I was asked to share my thoughts on the lessons we have learned about this tumultuous year. Given the fact that this year has left many angry, exhausted, and depressed, how should Christians, especially Black Christians, prepare spiritually for the new year?
Many other Villagers could have tackled this assignment and done a much more enlightening job than I. However, since I was given the ball with five seconds on the clock and couldn’t find an open teammate, I figured I would drive the ball to the hole, do a double pump windmill, and dunk it. [Actually, that’s not too hard to do on a 6-foot hoop at my height of 6’4”.]
“Black churches have long been the backbone of our community. Black churches are the one institution we control. They perpetuate the culture that gives us identity and purpose, keeps us centered, bonds us together, serves as the basis for strong marriages and families, and are respites and sanctuaries from all the forces that militate against our wholesome existence.”
The year 2020 has been filled with major events that have significantly impacted the Black community – a presidential election, a worldwide deadly coronavirus pandemic and its disproportionate adverse impact upon the Black community, economic dislocation, and racial injustice by law enforcement. The bottom line is the Black community has felt that we were not taken seriously by public policy makers and that we were often treated like third-class citizens. Many felt this was not a case of “benign neglect” but of “deliberate indifference” on the part of policy makers. There seemed to be an organized, centrally planned effort to polarize the citizenry of this country along racial lines and disempower Black voters of their constitutional right to participate in the election process freely and fairly.
Our knees became calloused because of our frequent and long prayers and supplications that went up to the Lord for grace, mercy, divine favor, and justice. The handwriting was on the wall as were our backs, so we coalesced. The civil rights organizations joined in with us and other sympathizers to defeat a foe we felt was antithetical to our religious faith and overall wellbeing. The plight of Blacks in America is a matter that lingers in the conscience of America.
I have often held that unless and until all things are equal and fair, the state of Black America represents the shortcomings of the American Democratic Experiment. As we all aspire to have a more perfect union, let the imperfections of our democracy be equitably felt and born by all of us, regardless of race. Then, and only then, can making our country a more perfect union become a shared priority and responsibility.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalms 11:3).
Our Black worshippers need to return and rebuild the foundation that has made us great. That foundation is our faith in Jesus Christ. Black churches have long been the backbone of our community. Black churches are the one institution we control. They perpetuate the culture that gives us identity and purpose, keeps us centered, bonds us together, serves as the basis for strong marriages and families, and are respites and sanctuaries from all the forces that militate against our wholesome existence.
Concerning being angry, exhausted, and depressed, please understand that change is coming in the new day. Many of the maladies of today have decades of momentum behind them and will not lose steam in one, two, or three presidential terms. It’s best to connect with institutions that have come through and survived decades of struggle. The late Robert H. Schuller famously said, “Tough Times Don’t Last, But Tough People Do.”
When you apply yourself to a noble cause where Christ will be glorified, He will give you the strength to endure. He will also bring about the result you pray for and act upon it in the time and manner that is in His will. I have found great joy and satisfaction in pouring myself into the lives of others, regardless of their class or social standing. I do what I do for the glory of God. I would like to think that I am built for tough times and thrive in the midst of struggle. For the sake of Christ, I want to be there in the storm with and for other Christians, single moms, outcast dads, and forsaken children who need to be loved. President-elect Joe Biden talks about healing our nation. I want to be a part of that healing. I want to help Black Christians and other Christians reconnect with Jesus Christ in a serious way.
E. Stanley Jones said, “The highest in God and the deepest in man is the yearn to be appreciated (and loved).” We can all do a better job of expressing appreciation for the sacrifice that others have made and continue to make to build a better community for all of us. Again, when the work is noble, you might not see the fruit of your efforts for several generations of your investment, e.g. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Dr. John Odom, Milele Chikasa Anana and thousands of others.
With all that said, these are the 12 things we should learn from 2020:
- Life is fragile and tenuous – unseen dangers could take us into eternity at any moment;
- Competent and compassionate leadership is needed at all levels of government to prevent a national crisis and to preserve us from a preventable death;
- If you are reading this December issue of UMOJA Magazine, you are amongst the blessed to be alive;
- God is merciful. We must value the time we can spend together to worship Him;
- Black women, although underappreciated, are God’s chosen and prepared warriors, a force to be reckoned with on every front, including the home, church, political, and economic arena. They love freedom and are crucial to the preservation of our nation and local communities. Congratulations Vice President-elect Kamala Harris;
- Freedom and our freedoms are fragile and must be vigilantly advocated for and protected;
- Great mental anguish can come about if our faith in our democratic institutions are unabashedly undermined and diminished by top national leadership;
- We need each other to survive a global threat and public health emergency. We must all do our part – wash your hands, mask up, and socially distance;
- We need economic security and financial resources for lean times. Don’t spend all your money. Save, invest, and support Black businesses;
- Racial hatred is very much alive in the ranks of law enforcement. Vote;
- People of all races will stand with you when racial hatred shocks their conscience;
- Strive to please the Lord. Stand on the living word of God. His word will not fail you. Mediate on it day and night. You will have good success if you are not afraid and don’t become dismayed. “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” (Luke 1:37). Be fearless!
“A new day is coming; just you wait and see,” are lyrics from a song rendered in 1969 by Bishop Charles Watkins. These words represent the positive attitude with which I fortify my mind to prepare for and get through tough times like we’ve had in 2020. I invite you to join me in envisioning a new day in your mind! Let us learn from 2020 and remain diligent and hopeful. A New Day is coming!