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Summary: Emmaus Baptist Church, Quinton, Va: To be good citizens means that we follow Peter’s counsel and honor everyone by supporting the public good; love the church by investing in it; and reverence God by making sure of our personal relationship to Him.

This is a day to celebrate being a people of God in a nation shaped by the will of God. This is a day to remember who we are, where we came from, and to what we are called. This is a day for honor, love, and reverence.

Two years ago, the last time I was here, I mentioned that I had been doing some family history study, and that I had discovered that some of my ancestors had lived here in New Kent County. For several generations, some of my mother’s forebears lived in this region before settling in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. Now after I mentioned that, several of you asked what that family’s name was, and I told you, “Moorman.” Incidentally, I am always very careful to spell it out, M-o-o-r-m-a-n, because the name sounds rather a lot like a religion founded by a man whose name was Joseph Smith. No connection, I assure you, although it is very useful when the Mormon missionaries come to my front door. It gives them a pretty good shock to meet Joseph Smith!

But you asked, and I told you the family name was “Moorman”, and every one who asked thought a little, shook his head, and said, “Never heard of them.” “Don’t know anybody by that name.” “Don’t recognize that name.” My family may go back to New Kent County, and yours may have been here for generations, but your folks don’t know my folks. There is a very good reason for that: my folks were nobodies. They were not prominent. They did nothing special. They accomplished nothing extraordinary. Insofar as I can tell, they did not run for public office, they did not create businesses, they were not lawyers or physicians or even large landowners. They were small farmers, tilling the soil and staying alive as best they could – obscure, ordinary nobodies.

Oh, now there were some exceptions to that. Some of the Moormans made their mark. I have learned that the Moorman family came to Virginia from the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England, and there one John Moorman was convicted of smuggling and murder! Not the kind of thing I was hoping to see in my family tree! I also have discovered Achilles Moorman, whose will, probated in New Kent in 1785, distributed slaves among his children. I am not proud to have a slaveholder among my ancestors. But there it is.

So, in addition to the nobodies in my family I also have the notorious. In addition to those who did nothing prominent I also have those who did seriously wrong things. I cannot change the past. But I can come to terms with who I am and to what I will give myself. My background may be the nobody and the notorious; but thanks be to God, I can become somebody for the Kingdom.

This is a day to celebrate being a people of God in a nation shaped by the will of God. This is a day to remember who we are, where we came from, and to what we are called. This is a day for honor, love, and reverence.

Our God has always reached down into the nobodies to make for Himself somebody special. Our God reached out and summoned Abram from Ur of the Chaldees and promised that out of him there would come a great nation. God reached out to the family of Jesse and selected the youngest of Jesse’s sons and made David king in Jerusalem. And, as the apostle Peter says in this letter to Christians, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The early church was made up of ordinary common people, nobodies. Paul describes them as “not many wise, not many powerful, not many noble.” And yet God did something special with them for His purposes.

This is a day to celebrate being a people of God in a nation shaped by the will of God. This is a day to remember who we are, where we came from, and to what we are called. This is a day for honor, love, and reverence.

Four hundred years ago the Spirit of God stirred in the hearts of some believers in England. Their names we hardly know and their lives are obscure, but something special happened. Among these nobodies, in the early 17th Century, there came some brilliant insights: that to be a true Christian you must know Christ personally, that to be a true church was not about being subject to the king or under the authority of a bishop, but it was to be gathered in covenant with Christ. These folks came up with the radical notion that every single person had the right to read the Scriptures, the right to profess faith and be baptized, the right to be a vital part of the church. I’m talking about us Baptists. Baptists began as people who, though they had none of this world’s power and status, knew that through grace they were children of the Most High.

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