Theme: Righteous Revolutionaries
While the theme of Black History Month appears to be provocative, it really captures the essence of Black Religion. According to the late theologian and pastor, Vincent Harding (1981), there is and always has been a river of revolutionary consciousness and behavior within the broader landscape of Black Religion in North America. Harriet Tubman, Gabriel Prosser, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alicia Garza, and so many others are exemplary of those who have led revolutionary movements to free African Americans from systemic and structural oppressions. Righteous revolutionaries are people who follow the teachings of Moses and Yeshua (Jesus). Both Moses and Yeshua were revolutionaries called and sent by the Creator to set the oppressed free.
The word righteous in scripture comes from the Hebrew sedeq and the Greek dikaiso. Both sedeq and dikatos should be translated by the English word just or justice. In the context of this year’s Black History Month study and sermon series, biblical communities, women, and men who fought for justice for their people will be examined. Those who fight, pray and struggle for justice are often called “revolutionaries” regardless of their historical location.
Righteous Revolutionaries use spiritual, intellectual, and relational weapons. Therefore, the memory verse for the new liturgical season (Birth/Initiation) is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. The followers of Yeshua, our revolutionary Messiah, refuse to mimic the functionaries and pawns of the empires of this world system. Rather, they transform human consciousness and communities through the spiritual practices of agape (loving acceptance), prayer, worship and radical resistance to the unethical, hate-filled, deceit of those who are the agents of the “power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
The month of March ushers in Women’s History Month. The theme from Black History Month is continued as we investigate the work and legacy of African, Haitian, and North American women who were righteous, revolutionary, leaders. During this period there will be two theatrical productions developed by Deacon Shirlene Holmes and Elder Carvel Bennett that provide a three-dimensional window into the socio-cultural and political contexts in which African women provided stellar, liberative, and creative leadership.
This series of studies and sermons will conclude with a reminder of the importance of remembering and contributing to the work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over forty percent of all Africans in North America find their historical origins in the Congo. There is therefore a critical relational link between the Congolese and African Americans. They are family. We must pray and work for the peace and freedom of the people of Congo.