Summary: Men who are witnesses must be witnesses in the place that they belong, in the place where they become, in the place that is beloved, and the place that is beyond.
“Men as Witnesses” Acts 1:1-8
Indeed let me take this opportunity to thank our Pastor Rev. Vernon Dobson who challenges us all by demonstrating the words of Paul, “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: … but made of himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant.” May God continue to bless you, my Pastor.
Allow me to congratulate our Man of the Year, Mr. Willie Whitt. His courage and spirituality inspires us all. He is most deserving of this honor. If you ever want to have your spirit lifted, visit him and he will preach and praise the Lord from the moment you come into his presence until you leave. Congratulations Brother Whitt.
I am indeed humbled by the Men’s League’s request of me to preach on this Men’s Day. I thank the Men’s League and The Tri-Chairmen of this Men’s Day: Marvin Diggs, Brandon Wood, and Roger Hughes.
I thank the officers, members, and friends of Union Baptist Church. A special thanks to my family. Some have traveled far to share in this special moment. Your presence is appreciated. Finally, a loving thanks to my wife, Kathleen. She has invested much in me and I pray that I become a good return on her investment.
The outstanding list of Men’s Day speakers resonates within my spirit. Union has a great tradition of bringing outstanding theological and biblical minds to this pulpit. I will never forget that magical moment when Dr. Howard Thurman stood before us. I remember vividly Dr. Satchell Morris describing for us the awesomeness of God when he remarked that only a God could have a brown cow, eat green grass, and give white milk. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor sharing with us that the gospel was like bringing light to a community that was once in darkness. Dr. Otis Morris Jr.’s preached powerfully illustrations of the civil rights movement and his efforts to bring medical services to his community. Dr. Calvin Butts preached to us about new wine in old skins. Rev. Andrew Young, Dr. Paul Smith and our own Dr. Richard I. McKinney and others, the list of preachers who have graced this pulpit stand tall in the universe of gospel prognosticators.
Let us pray…..
Focus: Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This text addresses three questions that are implied in the Men’s Day theme: Union Men: Witnesses in the Beloved Community. What is a witness? Where do you witness? And, why do you witness?
Can you imagine a more terrible time? The awesome power of the Roman Empire as it attempts to conquer the world and bring everyone under its dominion. New religious groups were popping up everywhere, each claiming to know the truth.
A person claiming to be the Messiah was not new. In fact, so many people were making the claim that there was a special hill that they would be taken to and pushed off to disprove them. Awful and disgusting practices where taking place within the temple as women who claimed they had special powers by entertaining men who sought their magical and mystical temptations. Can you imagine the fear within the small band of believers who had forsaken all to follow Jesus? They thought he would lead them to victory. His words where convincing. His deeds were miraculous. What happen? They crucified him on Golgotha’s hill. They buried him in a tomb.
Nevertheless, some women claim they saw him walking near the garden. Others say they have seen him. Some say they talked to him. Thomas says he touched his hands and side. For forty days people have been saying they have seen him. Forty is the time of God’s preparation. Is it possible that Jesus is alive? Has he overcome death? Surely if he can overcome death, he can defeat the power of the Roman Empire.
Quietly the word is being spread among the disciples. There are now only eleven, Judas hung himself after he betrayed Jesus. Jesus mother Mary is with them as well as the other women who followed Jesus. They where told to meet in the upper room. They go and begin to pray. They know that they cannot pray prayers that are too short, too shallow, or too simplistic. Their situation is such that they have to prayer fervent prayers, because “the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous man availeth much.” They need to pray prayers that cause God to say Amen.
After a while they feel the presence of Jesus. He sits down with them. They all hear him. He talks with them. Is it time now to overthrow the Roman Empire and restore Israel to its former power? Did you return to lead us? Jesus tells them that it is not for them to know when the power of Rome will be overthrown. What, we are not to know when Israel will be restored? NO, he says, you are not to know!