Summary: This sermon is about overcoming Christians overcoming social prejudices through prayer.
Title: Our God, Our Family
-By Reverend A. LaMar Torrence, Cross of Life Lutheran Church
Four score and seven years ago, one of our founding civil rights fathers James Weldon Johnson published one his first novels entitled “Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man”. In that same year the African National Congress was founded in South Africa. Blacks in this country and around the world embarked on a treacherous journey towards civil rights. That was 1912. It is now 1999 and still we march on into the next millennium seeking racial and cultural harmony. We seek to become the “church 2000” - A church where there is truly no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female. We seek to become a church without a spot or wrinkle prepared to scale heights of heaven upon our Lord’s return. It is this preacher’s belief that such as church can only become a reality through the act of prayer. Through prayer we who are filthy rags can behold the perfecting glory of a Divine God. We who are citizens of these United States can become inhabitants of the New Jerusalem – the holy city once beheld by John. Prayer is the key to contextualizing the Christian church in a multicultural, economically stratified, racist society. Prayer is the resolve to break down the last barrier keeping Americans from obtaining Utopia.
You see prayer changes things. Prayers changes people, places, situations, and circumstances. Prayer changes things. And in our ever-changing society, prayer can be effectual in changing those things that seem immutable. Poverty seems to be immutable. Even our Lord Jesus said that the poor you would have with you always. Hunger and disease will be a permanent fixture to remind us of human frailties. Crime and violence will persists as long as we have lustful hearts and unmet desires. Disappointments and depression will continue to occur as long as we have hopes and dreams. And yet, with these life sentences of pain and agony, toils and troubles I still believe that prayer has the power to change things.
You see it is not the prayer itself that changes things but the person we pray to that changes things. If prayer itself had power then the prayers of wicked and ungodly will avail just as much as the righteous. No, it’s the object of our prayer that has the power to change things. He alone can change that which he has ordained and created. God and God alone can calm the stormy seas that he brought up from deep. Only Jehovah can take H2O and remix the molecular structure to produce new wine. Only Elohim can tell the sun to stop shining during high noon while Jesus passed from life to death. Prayer changes things because our God has the power to make a change. It changes attitudes by drawing the people of God closer and closer together.
Prayer unites believers in the body of Christ. Whether you pray alone or in a group of two or three prayer is both social and communal. People are linked together through their relation with Christ.
This is the first lesson Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer. He teaches them about the power of prayer to unite humanity. Jesus tells them to begin their prayers by simply saying “Our Father”. He tells us to begin a conversation with the almighty transcendental God with the possessive pronoun “our.” Now that three letter word is full of meaning. First it tells us that we are all one in Christ Jesus. We are all equal in his sight. Even a slave-owner Jefferson would have to say, “we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” God is our creator and we are formed in his image. In fact, if we wanted to truly see a glimpse of God, we would have to collectively view ourselves in action. We who colored in the many hues of the rainbow collectively mirror our triune God. We look more like him united than we do as individuals. That’s why Jesus said where there’s two or three gathered together in Jesus name they would he be also. In other words, the dark shades of Africa mixed with pastels of Europe and the florescence of South America all together the mosaic stain glass windows adorning the human temple. We are one. Therefore, there should be no earthly distinctions. In prayer we all can meet on equal terms. The poor can get has much manna from heaven as the rich. There’s enough bread at the lord’s table for all us.