“You Are Already Forgiven.” Rev. Anthony Thompson

“You are already forgiven,” proclaimed the Rev. Anthony Thompson, at the joint Lenten Service held at First Baptist Church of Charleston at noon today March 22, 2017. “God is just wondering when you will forgive yourself.” His powerful message of forgiveness was delivered before an almost full house. “You forgive others so that your own healing can begin,” he continued.

Rev. Thompson’s wife was one of the nine worshipers killed by Dylan Roof at Mother Emanuel AME Church during a Wednesday night Bible study. At the bond hearing that followed the next day, Rev. Thompson was able to forgive the killer and to invite him to a relationship with Jesus. His example set the tone for the response of Charleston to the carnage of mindless racial slaughter. Charleston in turn has set the example for the rest of the nation.

The Lenten Series is a product of cooperation between First Baptist Church, First Scotts Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. There were many other congregations represented in today’s service. Rev. Thompson is pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church. Beverly Bradley was the organist.

The program next week is at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Mayor John Tecklenburg of Charleston is the speaker. A lunch follows each program hosted by the church of the week.

The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

This Is Who We Are

The Neww Colossus

BY EMMA LAZARUS

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My Fellow Americans

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45 (RSV)

When Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated president for the first time in March of 1933 the country was even more divided than it is today. There was so such unrest that machine guns were trained on the crowds that gathered to hear him speak. He was able to calm the fears as he spoke his first words. The goodness of his heart poured out on the crowds and through the country. “My fellow Americans,” seemed to melt frozen spirits. Thus began the most amazing twenty minutes in American history. He went on to quote more Scripture than any modern politician would dare do today.

According to Christine Wicker, religion writer, “Franklin Roosevelt’s powerful biblical imagery brought hope to a nation in the depths of an economic and social crisis, and instilled support for his progressive social vision.”  His most potent weapon against the nation’s despair was the Bible.

Of course the Bible has been used since the founding of our country for good and evil. It was used to defend slavery and spousal and child abuse. It is used today to defeat programs for the poor or to encourage programs for the poor. Many uses of Scripture by politicians today are simply not understood by their younger audiences. Unlike the older generation, they have not grown up steeped in Scriptural references. References to sport heroes or rock stars gain far more attention.

We need heroes who inspire us. Mine has always been FDR. Ms. Wicker is writing a book on the faith of FDR. I am looking forward to reading it.

 

Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference Refreshes and Inspires

In August I spent five wonderful days at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin. I had wanted to go there ever since my friend, Don Bynum, told me about it.  I was attending the 68th Annual Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference. Green Lake is a beautiful place far away from any population center. It took no time to feel relaxed. Carol and Jan joined me on the trip. They toured while I attended sessions.

The people I met were gracious, interesting, thoughtful, and creative. I made wonderful new friends including Rev. Jim Wooten and his wife, Becky. Jim is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Beaufort, SC. and a fantastically funny story teller. The three of us were there for the first time. Jim is the former pastor at Earl Street Baptist Church in Greenville, SC where I attended as an undergraduate at Furman University long before Jim’s tenure.

Kris Wood did a great job organizing the conference. The speakers were both helpful and inspiring.  Lin Johnson and Wendy Walters both offered wonderful assistance.  Dr. Linda Locke, a former public school administrator, is a crusader against bullying. We talked a lot about the importance of words. She writes and speaks on the subject. I bought a recording of soothing piano music by fellow attendee Darlene Davis. I continue to play it. It is wonderful.

An unexpected bonus was the number of well-mannered college students there from Bethel University attending a leadership conference. One young woman took the time to educate me about Converge Baptists which is the former Swedish Baptist General Conference.

The morning meditations led by Rev. Karen Gygax Rodrigues, pastor of the local Federated Church were very thought provoking and instructive.  She also played the piano, guitar and sang. The church is supported by American Baptists, United Church of Christ and United Methodists.

I welcomed the opportunity to promote Say Something Nice Sunday. Before I left I was excited to learn that the Green Lake Conference Center (American Baptists) will join our movement as will the Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, North Dakota. Rev. Brian Skar brought a group of volunteers from his church in Minot to do work on the buildings and grounds while he was in sessions. He led a series of devotional services for teenagers in the evenings.

I learned a lot. Met wonderful people, but most of all I was refreshed and inspired, I was reminded daily of the goodness of people and the splendor of God’s creation


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