It is with a heavy heart that I share with you news on the passing of the pioneering womanist ethicist Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon. The first African American woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Cannon was a venerable member of the Union Presbyterian Seminary. In 2011, she was honored by the American Academy of Religion with its Excellence in Teaching Award. In June 2018, she received the Excellence in Theological Education Award at the PC(USA) General Assembly.
Here at Louisville Seminary, the Katie Geneva Cannon Lectureship has served as a regular program of the Women’s Center at LPTS since 2006. Dr. Cannon herself was the inaugural lecturer. Cannon’s lecture entitled, “Untethering Grace from Dogmatic Anchors: A Womanist Critique of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” focused on a doctrine of transformative grace that emerges from the biographies of Africans who were dispersed throughout the American Colonies as chattel property. Through this history Cannon believed there is much to learn about “the divine gift of redeeming love that enables us to affirm, even in the most dire, oppressive situations, our dignity as beloved persons created in the image of God.”
At the time of the establishment of the lectureship, Cannon said the honor of a lectureship was quite unexpected, very much like the “unexpected journey of my life,” which she describes as one of blessings and daggers – some of which she saw reflected in the unpredictable 50-year journey of clergywomen.
Our prayers to her family, friends, and her colleagues at Union Presbyterian Seminary.
Heavenly Father, We come to you today on behalf of the least of these, particularly the homeless. Forgive our sins, oh Lord, and hear our prayers! "For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people" (Psalm 69: 33). Help America and each one of us to realize there but by the grace of God go I. Bless the homeless to receive justice in Your Court, Lord! "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Rebuke Satan for Your Namesake, Oh Lord. You are Jehovah Jireh, our Great and Awesome Provider.
We thank you for temporary housing and shelters, for all those who give tirelessly to feed, clothe, and house the homeless and poor. Oh Lord, Don't let the heat of the summer sun blind your people to the homeless begging on street corners and sleeping at bus stops. Don't let winter's brutal elements keep Your people from offering warmth to people who need it. Protect the homeless sleeping under bridges and in the streets of our bustling cities. Open the door of the church houses daily to receive them. Dwell among Your homeless people, we pray, even those who do not know You as Lord and Savior. Bring them into Your Building not made by hands. We thank you that some will return to permanent housing and employment by your compassionate will. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.
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I had the great honor to share my first Mother's Day message on Sunday, May 13th as guest speaker at New Revelation Church, 1040 S. Preston Street in Louisville, Kentucky, Revs. Carl and Lashonda Fletcher, Co-Pastors. My message for the culminating message of their two-day prayer conference, "Mama, Let's Pray" was entitled "The Faith Effect: Is It In You?" Prophetess Rhoda Hunter, Pastor, Fresh Wind Ministries, Louisville preached a power Word on Friday night.
I am inspired, sisters and brothers, by the stories in the bible between Jesus' resurrection and his ascension into heaven. There were several times when the disciples did not recognize Jesus in their midst. Mary Magdalene didn't recognize him immediately at the tomb. She thought he was the gardener. The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn't recognize him. The thought he was a stranger. And in John 21:1-14, the disciples did not recognize Jesus on the shore of Galilee after a failed night of fishing without a catch. Jesus shouted out to the disappointed disciples telling them, "Throw your nets on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get some(v6)." They did as he said and caught more fish than they could haul in. John the beloved disciple recognized Jesus first telling Peter, "It is the LORD! (v7) We had best recognize, my sisters and brothers, the very presence of the LORD in our lives!!! He lives, moves and has his being in the earth today through the Holy Spirit! I pray that when Jesus shows up in your crisis, on the way to your destination, in your disappoint, on your the job, in your community and at your church that you can, as John did, recognize him in the midst. We can recognize Jesus by strengthening our relation with him. But not only that. My prayer is that we know his voice and can distinguish HIS VOICE from ALL the voices and chatter out there! May we be willing to obey our risen Savior and receive what he has for us! Jesus saves!
“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint Him.” Mark 16-1-6
Love doesn’t sit around, clown around, and mope around! Love doesn’t sit around on its "do nothing" waiting for someone else to do something! Love doesn’t keep putting off til tomorrow, next week, next year what can be done today! Love doesn’t clown around and joke around, and make light of and trivialize serious matters! Love doesn’t drown in debt trying to please someone who is only trying to please someone else! Love doesn’t mope around with its head hanging down, but looks up, prays up, speaks up, and stand up! Love looks to the hills from which cometh its help…love prays and keeps on praying…love speaks those things that be not as though they were…love stands on the promises of God!! That’s what love does!!!
The events of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday clearly demonstrated the love of God and that of the Lord Jesus Christ. The women who came to the tomb can teach a number of lessons about such love. We see our obligation to respond to the love of God with action.
True love leads to action. Love led these women to seek Jesus that morning. Some of them were the last at the cross and the first at the grave. Love led these women to bring the expensive gift of sweet spices. This shows how true love willingly makes heavy sacrifices. The Bibles says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and see his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with
actions and in truth." 1 John 3:15-17
True Love leads one to seek Jesus early. The Scriptures make a point of telling us that the women came early in the morning. This teaches us the time to seek the Lord is early.
Early in life - Ecclesiastes 12:1 states, "Remember your creator in the days of your youth,...."Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Early in the day - Psalm 5:3 states, "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." This allows one to be with Him when the mind is fresh and bright.
In the first stages of everything you do you ought to seek the Lord! Not after the circumstances, etc. have piled up to the point of desperation. Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
True love often faces difficulties. The women faced the stone rolled across the mouth of the tomb (at least they thought they did). The penitent often faces ignorance, unbelief, and scoffing friends. The believer faces the world, doubts, the flesh, hatred. The church faces division and want of harmony, pride, worldiness, indifference. When there is true love, there will be obstacles to its expression.
True love presses on. The women could have failed to go because they knew they would face soldiers, a stone, and a seal. They refused to be deterred by what they were sure would be difficult. When there is true love, it will push on through the obstacles. Paul said it, I press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus our Lord.
True love finds its rewards. Those who press forward in spite of difficulty always find more than they had anticipated. The women sought the dead body of Jesus and found an angel and a living Saviour. The Bible says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Earnest seekers always find more than what they thought they were seeking. This is what love does!
Luke 23:32-34 is of Jesus praying on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
I like the declaration many are using in the justice movement today, "Stay Woke." In spite of all that is going on around us, we must not become so overwhelmed, get too busy and distracted, or become so comfortable that we lose consciousness of what is really going on around us and fall asleep. Certainly, we must remain alert at all times. The enemy prowls like a roaring lion seeking to kill, steal, and destroy. We must "stay woke," especially and particularly to the presence of God in our lives. Prayer is the foundation of our spiritual consciousness. Jesus prayed persistently to the Father. He was always conscious of the presence of the Father in his life. Even on the cross, where I would have understood if Jesus was unconscious or asleep, but, he was not. He stayed woke praying to the Father for his enemies, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."
Stay woke, sisters and brothers to your opportunities to forgive others who have mistreated, hurt, or wronged you, particularly in the household of faith, and experience the reconciliation, love and the peace of God in your life. Stay woke to your chance to mend fences, repair broken relationships, and clear up misunderstandings from so long ago. Understand that we must forgive others to be forgiven. Unforgiveness is like a cancer. It eats at the soul and mars the container of your mind, body and spirit. Don't let bitterness and unforgiveness destroy you while the other parties have gone on with their lives. The power to forgive and live again is available to you through Jesus' saving victory on the Cross. This is one of the important reasons why we celebrate the Resurrection. Jesus saves!
Romans 5:8 states, "But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." There is so much in this passage, but I want to focus on the phrase "Christ died for us." We remember the death, burial and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because He didn't die merely for our benefit, but in our place. You and I should have been on the cross that Good Friday. Jesus, however, took our very place on the cross, paying the penalty, the price (Rom. 6:23) for our sins.
In the New Testament, Christ is described as having died in place of the Christian, the church, and the world. He died in place of the Christian. Romans 6:8 states, "And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. Not only did Jesus die in place of the Christian, the believer, he died in place of the church. Ephesians 5:25 states, "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by cleansing of God's word." Not only did Jesus die in place of the Christian and the church, but also in place of the world. Hebrews. 2:9 states, "What we do see in Jesus, who was given a position 'a little lower than the angels'; and because he suffered death for us, he is now 'crowned with glory and honor.' Yes, by God's grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone." We owe Jesus our love, obedience, worship and service for what He did for us. Christ died for us. Let us live for Him. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not make that a priority for yourself.
Living to please God may seem like a daunting task. But the entire book of Romans lets us know it is possible to live a life that is pure and pleasing to God. When you accept Jesus into your life, He gives you the Holy Spirit. If you are a slave of Jesus, following the leading of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5), you will not serve God out of fear and duty, but love and gratitude. The Holy Spirit will give you the power to resist temptation and win battles against Satan and our sin nature. You will declare, "Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world!" You will be motivated by a desire to be close to Jesus, recognizing you already have God's approval because of what Jesus did for you in dying on the Cross. Jesus saves!
During the week that Jesus was crucified, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet (John 13). He does this just before the Passover Celebration. It was the very night that Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Lord's Supper at the Passover Meal. There, He gave an object-lesson on servant-leadership and humility. Scripture says he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and pour water in a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet and wipe them with his towel (vs. 4-5). In verses 14-17 He says, “And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor or messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things-now do them! That is the path to blessing” (NLT).
Many Christians claim to be walking with Jesus, but often their walk doesn't match their talk. Many Christian leaders boast of having authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform miracles, but are rarely seen serving the least of these. If we are going to lead like Jesus,preach like Jesus, teach like Jesus, and love like Jesus, we must begin by serving like Jesus. Jesus was the perfect servant-leader. The Scriptures tell us that being a true servant-leader is how one receives the abundant blessing that so many people magically "claim" nowadays, only there is nothing magical about servant-leadership. It takes hard work, compassion, and commitment. Matthew 20:28 states, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many (NIV)."
Here is what God does for the humble:
God give joy to the humble."The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help live in joy. Psalm 69:32.
God rescues the humble. "You rescue those who are humble." Psalm 18:27
God takes care of the humble."Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud." Palm 138:6.
God supports the humble."The Lord supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust." Psalm 147:6.
God fills the humble with fresh joy. "The humble will be filled wsith fresh joy from the Lord. Those who are poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 29:29.
Here is a promise from God: "Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:12
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The week Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father except through me." Jesus had just finished supper in the upper room with the disciples when he gave us one of His very greatest gospel texts.
In my sanctified imagination, Thomas must have been overwhelmed and in a daze! Jesus had already shared so much, that Judas would betray him for 30 pieces of silver; that Peter would deny him three times. Then, Jesus declared He was going to heaven, and they were extremely concerned. Yet he tells them to not be troubled and gives three reasons to have peace in their hearts. First, We can take God at His Word. When Jesus said, "Trust in God, and trust also in me," he was reminding his disciples to trust in God's Word (v.1). Scripture had spoken of Jesus' impending crucifixion and his resurrection. Sometimes we miss important information when circumstances become overwhelming. We must remember that to trust God's word. You can trust God's Word because as Jesus stated to the disciples as he gave the object lesson about the fig three in Matthew 24:35 , "Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away." Secondly, We are going to heaven. Heaven is a prepared place personally by Jesus who said, "I am going to prepare a place for you" (v2). Heaven is not a state of mind. Finally, Jesus is coming back for us. Notice, Jesus said, "I will come and get you". Jesus is not merely going to send for us. He is going to personally escort us to the Father's house! Isn't that good news?! The Bible tells us to "encourage each other with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18). In heaven, there will be no more fear, death, pain, or sorrow. Thomas caught the tail end of his statement. Jesus said, You know the way to the place where I am going" (v4). Thomas must have woke up. "We don't know where you are going," he blurted out, "How can we know the way? (v5) Jesus provided answers to three pertinent questions that have continued to be sought out by the lost, the learned, and the longing down through the ages. Those questions are "How can I be saved?", "How can I be sure?", and "How can I be satisfied?"
For lost people, Jesus answers the question, "How can I be saved? He says, "I am the way, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (v6). Jesus clearly explains that the only people who will enter heaven will be those who have accepted him as the way - not those who have performed the greatest number of deeds. There are no attributes of deity that the Jesus does not possess. Jesus is the only way to have a relationship with God (Romans 10:9; Acts 12:4; John 3:16). The reason we can have relationship with God is Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross. Jesus died, and rose again which is what Easter is all about. For the learned, Jesus answers the question, "How can I be sure?" He says, I am the truth. Everything that is true of God the Father is true of me. Jesus replied to Thomas, "he who has seen me, has seen the Father" (v9). You can be sure when you put faith in Jesus Christ. The word "truth" is used in Scripture in two ways: true as contrasted with false; and genuine as contrasted with unreal. Although both apply to God, when we speak of the truth of God, normally His genuineness is contrasted with false gods of other religions. The Scriptures declare Jesus as the one true God (John 1:1-2; John 17:3). For the longing who ask, "How can I be satisfied?, Jesus said, I am the life, that is, life in eternity and life on earth. I am water when you are thirsty, and bread when you are hungry. In John 10:10, he stated, "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly", in other words, until you are satisfied.
Not only is Jesus Christ the only way to eternal life, He is the only way to abundant life. Salvation, deliverance, healing, and spiritual growth cannot come any other way except, through Jesus Christ. He is the way!