“Choose Life” 02,16,2020

Sermon for Sunday, 02,16,2020

Theme: Deuteronomy 30:15-20


Theme: “Choose Life”

I want you to imagine this morning that today or the next few days being your last here on earth, and there you find yourself surrounded by those you love and care about. What would be your last words to them? Will you encourage or challenge them? What would you say to your wife, kids, grand kids, other family and friends and others who know and believe in you?

Sensing that his death was near based upon the threats and attempts on his life, Martin Luther King, Jr., the renowned civil rights leader, on April 3, 1968, spoke these final prophetic words to his fellow African Americans fighting for racial justice.

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop…..And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land…. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

On April 4, the very next day following these words, Martin Luther was assassinated.

Like Luther several centuries after, our text this morning consists of Moses’ final words to the Israelites. For forty years, Moses had led them through thick and thins. He had watched the entire generation that left Egypt die out gradually because of their lack of faith. So, this message was addressed to a second generation of Israelites. They were the children of those who left Egypt.
In this sermon “The Great Farewell Address of Moses,” as one of my commentaries calls it, which covers Deut. 29, 30, Moses reminded the Israelites of how God had been faithful to them, and how God had won great victories, provided and sustained them over those forty year. He reminded them of how God has given them the Ten Commandments and other Laws, and explained God’s expectation of them, and told them obeying those laws was the key to their success in the Promised Land. He told them that they would live long and prosper if they obey. But he also warned them of the consequences, if they disobey and went after other gods. That would mean death and destruction for them.

Now in the concluding part of this long sermon, (30:15-20), which is our text this morning, Moses is standing and looking across at the Promised Land, and looking back at those forty years as he recounted all that God had done for them.

Do you look back at your life at times to see how far God has brought you? In the midst of all the challenges, health and otherwise, here you are here today. In Liberia we say that you are still being counted among the living. Sometimes in order to appreciate the present and be grateful, it takes a moment of reflection. You probably want to look back at those moments when you or your love one was on that hospital bed, wondering if you or your spouse would ever make it, but here are you today. Looking back at my own life is our source of strength on my faith journey.

The first part of our text (v.15-17), focuses on choice and promise. He tells them, “See today, I set before your life and prosperity, and death and adversity. If you obey the LORD’s commandments, by walking in his ways, then you shall live and prosper in the land you are about to crossover to, but if your hearts turn away from God and follow other gods, then death destruction will be upon you.

Moses tells the Israelites that look, you have a freedom of choice, given to you by God, but know that your choice has consequence. I call upon heaven and earth to be our witnesses, that today, I have set before you, life and death, blessing and course.

Every day, we face choices. From restaurant menu, to grocery shopping list, from private school voucher to health care, to political platforms. We are a people inundated with choices. Therefore, a text like this may challenge our cherished value of freedom and autonomy and even present God as an autocrat. But no! God’s law especially the Ten Commandments, is not a burden; it’s not ordinance of a dictatorial God bending us to his well, nor is it so much about personal perfection, as it is about a covenant relationship with God and our relationship with one another.

God’s intention is that the Israelites and even we today will live in covenant relationship with him, which calls for loving God and loving others. Every time we disobey God whether by neglecting him and choosing something else above God, or when we, for instance, violate our marital covenant with our spouse, we fracture our relationship with God and with one another and there is a consequence.

Therefore, in his concluding lines, Moses urged the Israelites and urges us today, to choose life. We choose life by loving the LORD our God, by walking in his ways, and holding fast to Him. And the fact that we are urged to choose life is an indication that God’s desire for us is to be blessed and not cursed, to have life and not death.

Choosing life calls for obedience to God’s Law, which Jesus summarized into only two: “Love our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.” And the complementary law to this is, “is to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

We choose life when we worship God regularly with all of your heart, pray genuinely, love and serve our church, and believe that God’s loves US. We choose life when we give to the poor and needy, care for the hurting, treat others fairly, share our food with the hungry and give clothes to the naked.

Therefore, as you leave from here this morning, remember that God, through the words of Moses, is urging us this morning to choose life.

God bless you.

“Our Identity and Role in this World” 02/09/2020

Sermon for Sunday, 02/09/2020


Text: Matthew 5:13-20


Theme: “Our Identity and Role in this World”


Quite often when a question of the identity of a person is asked, at the time our first response is the person’s name, but name does not say a lot to a person who does not know the person he or she is about. At times the second thing that is stated about the person in question is connection with someone that is known by the inquirer. For examples, he is Joe’s brother. But the most important aspect that says something more about a person’s identity is his or role or function.
For example: he is a medical doctor, or a teacher, or a minister, or a teacher. Our role gives a bigger of picture of who we are. It says more about our place in the society or the world at large.
So, when Jesus told his disciples, and by extension, you and me, that “we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, what did that really mean? Note that he did not say, you should be, or you ought to be, but you are. He says, “you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” This is a metaphor. Certainly, he did not mean that we are shakers sitting on the kitchen counter or on the dining table, or that we will be a light bulb hanging in the garage.
Jesus meant more than that. He used these two images: salt and light to tell us who we are and what our role is in our community and the world at large. It applies to us both as a community of faith and as an individual Christian.
By saying, “we are the salt of the earth, Jesus means that we have several crucial functions, as did salt during his, Jesus, but for the sake of time, let me lift up only two that are relevant to our time.

  1. Salt was used and is used for preservation
    In ancient times, salt was used to keep things from going bad. We in Liberia like many places where there is not much access to refiguration, use salt and heat from the sun or fire to preserve fish or meat. Without salt, many things would rot and decay.
    Talking about salt as preservative, Plutarch writes, “meat is a dead body and part of dead body, and will, if left to itself, go bad, but salt preserves it and keeps it fresh, and is therefore like a new soul inserted into a dead body.”
    Therefore, when Jesus calls us the salt of the earth, he means that we his followers must have some antiseptic influence in life and society in general. Jesus means you and I must be the cleansing antiseptic wherever we find ourselves. We must be the person whose presence defeats corruption and makes it easier for others to be good.
    In our current age where the values from older generations have come under question, in an age of moral relativism, Christ calls us to be the salt that prevents things from going bad.
    The second which is the most important role of salt in all times is to give flavor so that the tasteless will be tasty. Imagine what your meal will taste without salt is what our world would be without Christians.

This was not too different from the time

fish and meat in the absence of refiguration.

Light does not keep its own illumination.

  1. This image is suggestive that Jesus gave his early disciples, and by extension, all of us, a distinctive capacity to elicit goodness

identity, through our role and function in this world. In short, Jesus has told us through these words, who we are and what our role in our community and the world around us.
By saying we are of the earth, Jesus meant three things.

response but names don’t say much about us to someone who does not know us and really want to. Sometimes the next thing that follows is a link or connection of the person being asked about to someone who is known. Oh! He is Nelson’s son, or Sarah’s sister. But the most common and powerful means of telling our identity is our role, our function, or what is it that we do. She is a doctor, or he is a university professor, or a banker, and so on.
This is exactly how Jesus tells the identity of his followers. In the gospel lesson just read, Jesus tells us who we are and what our place or role is in our community and in our world, despite all that is happening around us. He says we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In these words. When Jesus described us as salt, he did not mean that we are shaker of salt sitting on the kitchen canter or on the dining room table waiting to be pour into food.
He was letting all Christians know of their irreplaceable or indispensable role on this earth. He was letting us know how much the world will depends on us; how crucial our role is as a Christian and as a church. He was telling us that we had to maintain who we are and not get lost among the many different tastes that are being made available.
Now, let’s consider how important salt is to us now and in ancient. One would say that the most important use of

We can get to the crucial role Christ as given us when we explore the use of salt, not just in our time, but in ancient times, especially at the time Christ was written.

Jesus tells our place and our role, and indispensable one too, in this word.

In the first description, Jesus says “we are the salt of the earth.” He did not say the salt in the ……………. On someone’s dinner room table, but the salt of the earth.

e person does. He is a doctor; or a banker, or a minister. This tells of the person’s role or his or her function.

One of the pertinent questions we human beings are faced with is the question of identity. The question of identity is easier to answer when asked by someone else, than when it is a self- asked question, like “who am I?” Knowing our identity is closely linked with knowing our place or our role in wheresoever we find ourselves. As a result, this is a question that people have struggled with for ages.

In our gospel lesson this morning, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, tells us who we are, and from that, it’s easy to tell what our role is on this earth. Like he always did, Jesus used two metaphors to tell our identity: The salt of the earth, and the Light of the World.

These two metaphors tells us how indispensable we are to God’s creation.

A title is called but it gives the role we perform, or things we do.

Theme: “Our Identity and Role in this Broken World”

It defines who we are called to be in this community and God’s world

What the world is like? And why the world needs salt and light?

Scripture teaches us that the world is God’s creation.

“The Art of Following Jesus” 01/26/2020

Sermon for Sunday, 01/26/2020


Text: Matthew 4:12-23


Theme: “The Art of Following Jesus”


The expression “following someone” literally means to walk, drive or to travel, behind someone. But in our day of social media, the word has taken on a cheap meaning. It now means to have access to the persons posts, without any obligation to them.
But when Jesus called his disciples and told them to follow him, he meant more than just walking with, or behind him, or having access to his twitter feed or Instagram, if he were here today. When Jesus told his disciples, “Follow Me,” he was calling them to what Dag Heward-Mills calls “The Art of Following.
In his book, “The Art of Following,” Dag defines this expression as, copying, emulating, imitating, or trying to be like someone.
Hence, Paul’s advice to the believers in Philippi, found in Philippians 3:17, “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. (NLT). This is the art of following Paul.
When Jesus called his early disciples, and by extension, you and me, he called them and us, to copy, to emulate, to imitate or to pattern our lives after him. He called us to something very radicle that he himself started.


Verse 12 to 17 of our text tells us that when Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been put in prison, he left his home Nazareth, moved to Galilee, and made his home at Capernaum. This was not cowardice, but a radicle and strategic move. It was radicle in the sense that Jesus left his familiar surroundings, his comfort zone, and ventured into the unknown.
Strategic in the sense that Galilee was a center of diverse people, including many Gentiles, who would most likely be receptive to new and bold ideas. These were people who had been detected by orthodox Jews. This was a clear indication that Jesus came as a universal savior.
The text says that Jesus’s presence brought light into that territory; for “the people who had long dwelled in darkness, saw a great light.” Jesus’ presence in Galilee fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 9. His presence was the dawning of a new day for the people. Our presence anywhere should bring light.
There in Galilee, Jesus launched his ministry, calling people to repentance. Repentance for its part, is more than remorse or guilt. It is a revamping of life and reorientation of choices and decisions. Only the presence of God through Christ, can make this change possible in life of the person.
To this task, Jesus called others, including us, to join him on this mission. From verse 18-22, he called two sets of brothers: Simon, called Peter and Andrew, then James and his brother, John. He called them, not just to follow, but he called them to the art of following him. That meant to copy, emulate, imitate him.
This means the disciples had to make a radical decision. They turned their backs on their homes, left their lucrative fishing profession, family and friends. They were demonstrating the art of following Jesus who had given up everything and would eventually give up his life for others. This is the art of following Jesus.
This is what we too are called to. Sounds tough and scary, but it requires each of us to step back from something and embrace what Christ calls us to. He told the disciples, “I will make you fishers of men.”
What have you stepped back from since following Christ? What have you given up? What are you willing to sacrifice? Following Christ is a radicle decision that we make, whether we realize it or not.
But let me say this. Not all of us are called to be a Melville B. Cox, the North Carolinian Prelate who left his comfortable home here and took up assignment as the first Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary in Africa, (Liberia), and planted the Methodist faith. Cox died of malaria within four months of his arrival in March 1833. As your fellow United Methodist, I stand here today as a living testimony and fruit of the seed Melville Cox planted in Africa/Liberia over 187 years ago.
And not all of us are called to be a Mother Theresa, who left her relatively wealthy family in Eastern Europe, took a vow to serve the poor and moved to India, where she dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor, the sick and the dying. Not all of us is prepared to go to this length
But in our art of following Christ, each of us has been called to copy, emulate, and imitate Jesus Christ. We are called to follow the example of Jesus, mostly by loving others.
Love is the center of the Christian faith. Love of God and love of our fellow human beings. While some of us may be able to go an extra mile to show this love beyond our borders, many of us can do so right here and now by loving and caring for the poor and needy of our community.
Programs like “Feed A Neighbor,” Keep Kids Warm, our Summer Bag Lunch, the Baby Bottles, etc, are means through which we demonstrate our Art of Following Jesus.
This love is not just sentimental. In the art of following Jesus, this love gets our hands messy for others at times. It took Jesus to the cross; it must cost you something. It is through this, that we are known as true followers of Christ.
As you leave from here this afternoon, remember, you are not just a follower of Christ, but one called to demonstrate the art of following Christ, through our love and service to others.
God bless you.

“At the Font, We Signed Up for Something” 01/12/2020

Sermon for Sunday, 01/12/2020


Texts: Acts 10:34-44; Matthew 3:13-17


Theme: “At the Font, We Signed Up for Something”


We come to talk about our baptism and its implications for us as followers of Christ. This is a very important subject of our faith; so important to the extent that we are often reminded, “To Remember our Baptism”. But quite often, what follows the baptism of many of us Christians suggests quite the opposite.
The common mistaken notion that many of us hold about our baptism is captured in this story about Kyle, a 5th grader and his family, who came to a congregation. They attended church sporadically, so pastor Rodgery was more than a little surprised when Kyle and his parents agreed for him to join the other 9th graders for confirmation class. He and his parents came for the orientation meeting and agreed to the covenant to participate in two retreats, a mission activity, work with mentor, and weekly classes for study and exploration. Kyle was serious in attending and missed class or events rarely. He quickly became a significant part of the group and developed some wonderful friendships with the other 9th graders who barely knew him. Since Kyle had not been baptized, he was not only confirmed, but also baptized on that Pentecost Sunday. It was a marvelous celebration for all the confirmands, their families and their mentors.
But, according to Pastor Rodgery, when she missed the kids in the weeks that followed and started checking on them, she writes, “they all seemed surprised that I was calling and checking up on them.” She continues, “I distinctively remember Kyle’s mom saying, Oh, well, I guess I thought Kyle was all done. I mean he was baptized and confirmed and everything. Isn’t he done?”
Here lies the problem. Too many of us seem to think that the baptism of an infant, or young adult or an adult is the culminating activity of faith and then we are done. No! We are not done; It’s just beginning; we, at this point, are now signing up for something. At least this is the understanding we get from our gospel reading this morning. The baptism of Jesus Christ was not the end of his ministry, but rather the beginning.
Like Jesus, when we are baptized, God recognizes and takes ownership of us. He says, “this is my son; this is my daughter.” Then he sends down his Holy Spirit upon us, to empower us for his mission here on earth.
Following his baptism, in chapter 4, that follows our text, Jesus was taken to the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and forty nights and was tempted by the devil. Right after that, Jesus began his ministry by first calling his disciples.
Luke’s version of the gospel recalls that after his temptation, Jesus, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, returned to Galilee, and report about him spread, as he began to teach, in their synagogues, and was praised by everyone.
In our passage of Acts 10, it’s Peter’s testimony of Jesus’ ministry; that after being anointed by the Holy Spirit, Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone who was sick. Then he finally gave his life for you and me. This was what Christ signed up for.
Similarly, at the font, we too assigned up for something; we signed up for a mission, God’s mission.
The church has done well in summarizing the things we signed for:
-To renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of our sins.
-To accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
-To remain faithful members of Christ’s holy Church and serve as Christ’s representative in the world.
Being Christ’s representatives means we are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, to continue the work of Jesus in our community.
But the unfortunate thing about the church today is that so many of sign up at the font, only to leave or watch from a distance.
The findings of research conducted by the Pew Research Center a few years ago found that only 22% of American Christians attend worship regularly; 25% seldomly and 28% never attend.
We can never carryout the mission of Christ we signed up for at the font in this manner. Continuity is the hallmark of the Christian life. That is why Jesus said,
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Being baptized and confirmed is not a status we obtain, but a mission we sign up for.
May you continue to remember your baptism and fulfill the task it places before you.
God bless you.

“Blessed for A Purpose” 01/05/2020

Sermon for Sunday, 01/05/2020


Texts: Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:1-18


Theme: “Blessed for A Purpose”


Many stories have been written over the years about people who had great means of wealth, yet they lived and some even died in poverty. It wasn’t that they did not want to use what they had, but they just weren’t aware of what they had.
This is what Paul tries to prevent from happening to us, Christians. In this book of Ephesians, Paul unveils the encompassing resources and richness is at our disposal. It is intended to prevent us from living in spiritual poverty by making us aware of the richness God has made available to us through Jesus Christ.
From the very first chapter, especially in our text, we encounter this message. Here Paul begins to unveil God’s bountiful blessings to us when we writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
The Christian is not bankrupt nor ought to live in spiritual poverty, because God has poured upon us every spiritual blessing through Jesus Christ.
The first blessing we see in this text is that God chose us; then he predestined us to be his children, and in him we have redemption. This redemption is found through no other means but only through the blood of Jesus. We then experience the forgiveness of sin, according to the richness of God’s grace.
Quoting the words of William Barclay, who writes, “There are certain things which a man can discover by himself; but there are certain things which are beyond his obtaining. A man by himself can acquire certain skills, can achieve a certain position, can amass a certain amount of this world’s goods, but by himself he cannot save himself. These spiritual blessings are beyond our ability to obtain.
God’s calling, choosing, adoption, redemption and forgiveness are all God’s rich heavenly blessing to us, but God does not bless us just for blessing’s sake. God blesses us and saves us for a purpose, and that is to be his representatives in this world.
There are two ways we are called be this. The first, according to this text, we must live a holy and blameless life.
The words, “holy and blameless” mainly refer to our relationship with God. Blameless for example, comes from the Greek word,”amomos”, and It relates to sacrifice. According to Jewish law, before an animal was sacrificed, it had to be inspected and if any defect was found on it, it was rejected as unfit as offering. Only the best was fit as offering to God.
When this word “blameless” refers to us Christians, it means not only what you give to God, but you as a whole person are an offering to God. It means that every part of your life, work, pleasure, sport, home life, personal relationship must be an acceptable offering to God.
The second purpose of God’s blessing to us is to make Christ known to the world, by bearing witness of him as John the Baptist did in our gospel. Our gospel said John himself was not the light, but he came to bear witness of the Light, Jesus Christ. This is why God calls and blesses us.
But closely linked to these spiritual blessings are also God’s day to day blessings upon us. Like our many spiritual blessings, so is being alive each day, let alone for 365 days is not our achievement. Just how God has saved from the power of sin and eternal death through the work of Christ, he also saved and brought us through into a New Year.
It’s never by chance or luck that we made it through last year. It is God’s doing; it is God’s mercy; it is God grace. Just look back and imagine the many family and friends who did not cross over, but God brought us across
This is not because of our perfection, or that we are better than those who have gone ahead, but it is because of God’s grace made available to us. It because God is not done with us yet; And the reason? Perhaps you still have a charge to keep and a God to glorify; perhaps you have not finished your course or completed your race set before you. This is the purpose of God’s blessings upon us.
Therefore, none of us can lay a claim to God’s blessings upon us. He bestows them upon us based upon his love for us and he does this, so we can serve him in this world.
Let me conclude with one of my favorite Psalms, 116:12-14,17, which sums up this whole message. This Psalmist begins by asking himself a question that we too should be asking ourselves:
“12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his blessings toward me?
Then he finds the answer in the flowering verses.

13 I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.
14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD

May we leave this place, thankful for all that God has done for us, with the resolve to consider this new year as another opportunity to serve the One who has blessed us so abundantly.

God bless you.

“Our World After Christmas” 12/29/2019

Sermon for Sunday, 12/29/2019


Texts: Isaiah 63:7-9; Matthew 2:16-2


Theme: “Our World After Christmas”


I want to begin with a story of a woman who wrote in exasperation to the editor of her newspaper demanding to know why the media always publish negative and sad stories during the Christmas holiday. As she points out, “Christmas is supposed to be a happy, joyous time.”
Yes, Christmas is usually a Happy and Joyful time for many; it’s a time when everything looks and feels different. We were just gathered with family and friends, sharing sumptuous meals, exchanging memorable gifts and having lively conversations and cheerful laughter, as the sounds of marvelous carols echoed in our ears. We have felt the glow of twinkling lights, of glimpses of angels fluttering overhead, and we also heard the announcement of peace and joy on earth.
But while some of us are still trying to take down our decorations and others like me still have them up, we awoke yesterday morning to the shocking news of a massive car bomb blast that ripped through the city of Mogadishu, Somalia, leaving 79 dead and 149 injured. These were ordinary folks like you and me starting their day. This is not the type of news we want to hear after Christmas.
But the fact remains that Christmas has not changed everything overnight. Our World after Christmas remains a sinful, broken, and cruel world. A cruelty that did not spare even Jesus, the Savior, who was born just few days ago.
This is the vital lesson that our gospel reading brings to us this morning. In this text that actually begins at verse 13, the angel informs Joseph to take the child Jesus and the mother Mary to Egypt, because Herod, who had learned of the significance of Jesus’ birth, had felt threatened and was about to unleash terror in the land. Thus, Joseph took Mary and the baby and fled to Egypt as refugees, and thank God, Egypt did not close its doors, or else, we may not have a savior today.
The text says, When Herod realized that the wise men had tricked him by not returning to show him where the baby was, what he did is unthinkable. He ordered that all children in and around Bethlehem, age two and under to be slaughtered. For Jesus would have been around that age at the time.
The passage this morning reminds us through the writings of Charles L. Aaron, Jr., that “The forces of evil and human suffering do not lay down their arms for a cease fire just because we have turned the calendar to December.”
No! our world after Christmas is one that still victimizes the poor, the weak and the innocent. Here, innocent children are being destroyed because someone feels threatened by another person, in this case, the child Jesus. So, Herod wants to eliminate his perceived threat as soon as possible.
Hence, our world after Christmas is a messy and broken world. This is the world into which our Savior has come and thank God he did. He was a refugee in Egypt until Herod’s death. Then the angel spoke to Joseph and said, “take the child and return to Israel, for the one who wanted to destroy the child is dead.”
This text is usually used on “World Refugee Day,” because it highlights the need for nations and their people to be welcoming and accepting to vulnerable people of other nations, seeking refuge, because Jesus Christ, himself, was a refugee. If no one would hear this, we Christians need to.
But it’s sad to say, that many times immigrants are vilified. It is very disheartening to hear dehumanizing remarks emanating from some quarters of this society, that “immigrants bring filth and deceases to this country.”
During our Christmas celebration, everything looked fine. Some of us succeeded in covering up our anger, pain and even grudges against other family members who offended us, so that we share the joy of Christmas with each other.
Some of us who had been suffering with pain of illness over the year, Christmas provided us a little refuge of peace and love from our family who surrounded us.
But like the little children of Liberia would say, “Every day is not Christmas.” For many of them, Christmas is that day when they get a new suit, a new shoe, and have enough food to eat, but after a day or two, they return to business as usual: going hungry again and wearing the same old clothes.
In like manner for some of us, our world after Christmas means living lonely again, or the resurfacing of the anger and pain covered against family remember at Christmas, or the thought of our illness and pain stares at us in the face.
But the good news, God is now present and is at work in our World After Christmas. Remember, Immanuel, “God with Us.
That is why verse 9, of Isaiah 63, says, “In all their (our) distress, it was no messenger or angel, but God’s presence that saved them (us).
Yes, the terrible pain may not end, violence may not stop, suffering will continue, but these things don’t mean that God is not at work in our world. God is in the midst of the suffering, bringing strength, healing and comfort. His ultimate joy and victory cannot be derailed, and you and I have been commissioned as agents of God’s Peace, joy and hope that Christ brings into this world.
May you be his instruments of the peace, joy and hope even now.
God bless you.

12/22/2019 Emmanuel: “God (is) with Us”

Sermon for Sunday, 12/22/2019
Texts: Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25
Theme: Emmanuel: “God (is) with Us”


It is often said that our names say something about us. And in some sectors of this society is the suggestion or belief that names can influence where we live, whom we marry, the grade we earn, or the job to which we are hired. I am not sure if this is true for everyone, but as an African, one thing I can say for sure, is that African names are not given out of a vacuum. They convey something unique about the bearers.
From the day or time, a baby is born, to the circumstances surrounding the birth, several factors influence the names parents choose for their children. These factors may be positive or negative, and they say something about the child.
As examples, let me quickly share with you two traditional Liberian names, their meanings and the kinds of stories that may influence them.

  • To-gar or To-mar (War- man, or war-girl, war child),
  • Mon-kon, “I own,” or this is mine.”
  • This is like many names in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and not only the names of people, but even the names of God in the Bible convey meanings. The word “god” as we often use, is a generic word for any deity, even pagan gods. That is why God has names ascribed to God, and each of them conveys the nature, character and attributes of God.
    Among God’s name is God’s personal name given by God self in Exodus 3:13-14. In this passage, Moses tells God “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your forefathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, what is his name? Then what shall I tell them?”
    God said to Moses “I AM WHO I AM”. “This is what you are to say to the Israelites. “I AM” has sent me to you.” This name means “the Self-Existent One;” the one who was never brought into existence and who will never cease to exist. This name, which in Hebrew became “Yahweh, and later Jehovah, points to the reliability of God. From this, we have Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, etc
    In the text of Isaiah read this morning, we see the name “Immanuel” announced of the expected one. This name conveys the role of the coming one to address the predicament faced by the Judah and eventually, the whole of humanity.
    Ahaz, the king of Judah and all the people are terrified of the pending Assyrian invasion. There seems to be no way out for them because they are trapped by this foreign power. But this problem is only symptomatic of a greater problem, and that is sin, which held and still holds mankind captive.
    Therefore, in our gospel text, Matthew, in the words of the angels to Joseph, says that Isaiah’s prophesy, that, “the virgin shall be with a child, and shall give birth to a son to be called Immanuel, which means, “God with Us” is fulfilled in Mary.
    This name Immanuel reveals the identity and role of Christ. He is “God’s presence with us;” he is “God dwelling with us,” according to John 1:14.
    This name then indicates that Christmas is not just an event. Christmas signifies God’s perpetual presence with us. For the one who comes at Christmas, is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
    Our Immanuel, who comes to us through the humble virgin, is God’s presence with us; this presence is both corporate and personal. In the corporate sense, He is present and at work in our world, despite all the terrible things that happen here and abroad at times. God has not abandoned his creation. He is also present with us in our gathered community right here this morning. He says where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst (Matthew 18:20). He’s here, church.
    Immanuel, God is also present with us as individuals. Remember, we are never alone, although at times it may not feel that way. But He is present with us at our sick bed; he is present with us in the cancer clinic, in the nursing home, and he’s even present with us in the hospice room when life’s final breath seems to be is slipping away. He is Immanuel, God is with us at those critical moments of life.
    God is also present with us in our joys and celebration. He is present with us when we are walking in the woods or driving on the highways.
    Therefore, Christmas is not just an event to be celebrated. It is the coming of Immanuel, God’s presence with us, through Christ.
    Finally, not only his presence, but Immanuel, a name referring to Christ, according to the angel, also unveils his mission. The angel says, “you shall call him Jesus because “he will save his people from their sin.” This is his mission.
    Like I wrote in the newsletter, Christmas is God embarking upon his rescue mission, because sin is the worst predicament of mankind, and the mission of Immanuel, Jesus Christ, is to deliver us from the power and penalty of this predicament.
    All of this comes down to God’s love for us. Therefore, as we celebrate Christmas this week, know that Christmas is much more than what the culture has made it to seem. It’s God’s love on full display for you and me.
    May you leave this place today, with the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of Christmas, not found in any goods on the shelf, but found in Immanuel, our God who comes to be with us in the person of Jesus Christ.
    Merry Christmas to you.

12/15/2019 “The Joy that Comes with Christ”

Sermon for Sunday, 12/15/2019
Texts: Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:47-55
Theme: “The Joy that Comes with Christ”


I remember the first time I went to camp Michigamme, I instantly fell in love with the place because of the vegetation. Most of the vegetation of my country contains very dense tropical rain forest, with giant trees. These forests provide travelers enough shade from the sun, as well as, shield them from the rain. They also contain lot of fresh water from running streams and creeks which quench the thirst travelers. There are also so much wide fruits in these forests that provide food for travelers. For many years, I walked several hours in those tropical forests, and they provided sustenance for me and my team.
But unlike high forest vegetation, a wilderness or a desert, which was mentioned in our scripture is a porched, rocky, dry, sandy and barren land. There is very little or no plants, no water, no shade, and it’s very hot. Unlike the tropical rains forest, travelers in a wilderness or desert often get thirsty, weary, and would likely suffer from dehydration, heatstroke and even hunger, if they don’t take enough things with them. It is a dangerous place to be, let alone, to travel.
The circumstances that confronted God’s people who are being addressed in this text, are similar to the conditions of a wilderness. Their homeland had been destroyed, and they were taken captives by a foreign nation, (exile). They had lost their freedom to a powerful kingdom; they could not have enough water to drink nor food to eat. They had to survive on whatever little their slave masters gave them. Some had been disabled by the long and harsh conditions of the journey; for they were brought into this foreign land in chains, resulting into feeble hands, shaken kneels, and sorrowful hearts. Indeed, they were depleted, dry and barren like the wilderness. There appeared to be no hope, no help and no way to be restored and renewed.
I know it is difficult for us here this morning and in this country to imagine ever being such situation, because ours is the richest country on earth. We have the strongest military in the world, and every day, there are dedicated men and women on the frontlines, fighting to keep us safe, and defending our freedom. But despite all of this, it seems at time as if we are living in our own wilderness. For we too have conditions that drain our strength and energy and make us barren. We have our own deep-seated fear and feelings of insecurity; at times, due to our diagnosed illness or the illness of our family and love ones, or our loneliness that even those around us may never understand. Sometimes we become exhausted and even frustrated with the busyness of our lives, especially during this season. In our wilderness, there is never enough time, enough money, enough understanding, and never enough love.
When we are going through our desert experience, it is almost impossible to image what hope looks like. There is barren space deep inside of our soul. As a result, our eyes become blind to God’s presence; our ears deaf to hearing his promises and mouth mute to declare the joy of his coming. Just like God’s people in exile, sometimes we too are trapped in our personal wilderness space, and there seems to be no way out. Though we have all our material needs met, it is still possible to feel dry and barren on the inside.
But ours is the redemptive, transforming, renewing and reversing God. He says to us this morning, as he said to the early Hebrews, “ the wilderness and the dry land will rejoice, the desert will blossom, the hands of weak will be strengthened, the feeble kneels made firmed, the lame shall leap for joy, and the tongue of the mute shall sing in praise; for water shall break forth in the wilderness and the streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become pool and the thirsty ground shall be springs of water. He says, “For behold, do not fear; for here comes your God”
These are all powerful imageries that speak to God reversing the course of nature, and proving healing and wholeness, not for only us, but the entire creation. Church, it is only through the one who comes, that our deep and hidden fears can be overcome, the void deep inside of us filled and our thirsty souls quenched. It’s only through him that we can experience deep joy that cannot be found in the quantity of items that money can buy, nor from the number of gifts that we give and receive, as important as they may be.
This is the Joy that comes with Christ, the deep-seated joy that cannot be purchased from any shelf. That is why it is shared by both the rich and the poor, because the giver does not ask anything in return. He says the world cannot give it to us; neither can the world take it away from us.
Therefore, as we await the arrival of our Lord and Savior during this Advent, may the Joy that Christ brings be yours. May your inner soul not be troubled by all the bad news, nor the tempting commercials.
May you experience the Joy of Christ, in an extraordinary way this season.
God bless you.

12/08/2019 “God’s Vision of a New World Order”

Sermon for Sunday, 12/08,2019
Texts: Isaiah 11:1-10
Theme: “God’s Vision of a New World Order”


One of our characteristics as human beings is the quest for something better. Whether it is an organization, a family, a church or a nation, we always yearn for things to be better than they are. We believe that there is always room for improvement, and we usually seek to accomplish this improvement by finding the right person or building the right system.
This is why we have revolutions, and different forms of government. We in the West hold elections to select the person or people who we are convinced will make things better. We seem to have an enormous optimism when it comes to new systems and new people, but too often we are left disappointed and even betrayed at times because those people often fail us. The simple reason behind this is the fact that we are broken, and so are the people and systems we trust.
But in our text this morning, God gives us his vision of a new world order: one that will be based on Justice, Hope and Peace. One that cannot be accomplished by amending our constitution or changing the President or electing new members of Congress.
This vision comes on the heels of a very difficult, hopeless and turbulent period in the history of God’s people. The threat of the Assyrians, the dominant power of the world at the time was looming over Judah. Destruction and exile of the people was pending. The prophet Isaiah looked beyond and saw a time when Israel will no longer have a descendant of David on the throne, a time when the family tree of David had been cut down, thus bringing an end to David’s reign.
But in our text, the prophet said, “a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse (David’s father), and a branch shall grow out of his roots. From out of that disappointing and hopeless situation, God would raise up a leader from the line of Jesse. Have you ever reached a point when you felt that all was lost? Have you ever felt that you had reached the end of your rope? Then this is a message for you, and for me as well.
Accordingly, the leader that God would raise up from that dead stump is one whose character is shaped by the Spirit of God. He will be endowed with wisdom and understanding, might, and knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. Isn’t this the kind of leaders we need?
Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power, the people groan.” As a result of this, the text says, this anointed leader will establish a kingdom characterized by justice. His judgement will not be swayed by external appearances, not the rags of the poor or the rich robes of the wealth. Neither will his judgement favor one race, or sex over the other.
This vision of a just leader is expressed in Psalm 72:1-2” Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son. May he judge your people, and your poor with justice. Isn’t this what we hope for?
The portrait of this new world order is unlike our world today, where violence permeates the whole creation, with anger dividing people, no value of the sanctity of life. Ours is a world where wolves eat lambs, lion devoured calf, and bears spit out straw to destroy lamb.
But in the coming one resides the hope of the downing of a new day when wolf shall lie down with lamb, the leopard shall lie down with kids, the bear and sheep shall feed passively together, the calf and the lion play together and a little child shall lead them, as displayed on the screen.
This kind of peace is not available in any worldly leader. Neither does it come from any human intervention, but divine actions, in which the rights of the poor and the frail members of society will be respected, and the powerful who mistreat the weak held accountable. This kind of peace comes from only God’s anointed one, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whom we await. In a world full of failed and corrupt leaders, injustice and strife, the prophet Isaiah declares that one day Jesus will inaugurate his kingdom of justice, hope and peace. It seems impossible most days when we look at all the violence, injustice around us, but in these days of advent, we are reminded that he who came once, will come again in the power of his might, to lead with righteousness and justice.
I want to challenge each of us this morning, to begin to work towards this vision of God’s new world order. As a matter of fact, didn’t he tell us to love everyone, including those who hate us (Matthew 5:44)? Didn’t he urge us not to discriminate against people just because they are poor (James 2:2-4)? Did he not challenge us to live peacefully with everyone (Roman 12:17-18)? Didn’t he illustrate how we should love our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37) and care for the weak and vulnerable in society (Matthew 25:31-46)?
Therefore, God’s vision for a new world order is not just a mere wishful thinking or a utopia. As a matter of fact, it begins with you and me right here and now. Each of us can make a difference, however little it may be. When we United Methodists say our mission is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World,” this is exactly what we mean. Each one of us can work towards a peaceful and a just society that gives hope. And there is no better time to begin than this Advent season, as we await our Lord and Savior.
God bless you.

“God’s Vision of a New World Order” 11/08/2019

Sermon for Sunday, 12/08/2019
Texts: Isaiah 11:1-10
Theme: “God’s Vision of a New World Order”


One of our characteristics as human beings is the quest for something better. Whether it is an organization, a family, a church or a nation, we always yearn for things to be better than they are. We believe that there is always room for improvement, and we usually seek to accomplish this improvement by finding the right person or building the right system.
This is why we have revolutions, and different forms of government. We in the West hold elections to select the person or people who we are convinced will make things better. We seem to have an enormous optimism when it comes to new systems and new people, but too often we are left disappointed and even betrayed at times because those people often fail us. The simple reason behind this is the fact that we are broken, and so are the people and systems we trust.
But in our text this morning, God gives us his vision of a new world order: one that will be based on Justice, Hope and Peace. One that cannot be accomplished by amending our constitution or changing the President or electing new members of Congress.
This vision comes on the heels of a very difficult, hopeless and turbulent period in the history of God’s people. The threat of the Assyrians, the dominant power of the world at the time was looming over Judah. Destruction and exile of the people was pending. The prophet Isaiah looked beyond and saw a time when Israel will no longer have a descendant of David on the throne, a time when the family tree of David had been cut down, thus bringing an end to David’s reign.
But in our text, the prophet said, “a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse (David’s father), and a branch shall grow out of his roots. From out of that disappointing and hopeless situation, God would raise up a leader from the line of Jesse. Have you ever reached a point when you felt that all was lost? Have you ever felt that you had reached the end of your rope? Then this is a message for you, and for me as well.
Accordingly, the leader that God would raise up from that dead stump is one whose character is shaped by the Spirit of God. He will be endowed with wisdom and understanding, might, and knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. Isn’t this the kind of leaders we need?
Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power, the people groan.” As a result of this, the text says, this anointed leader will establish a kingdom characterized by justice. His judgement will not be swayed by external appearances, not the rags of the poor or the rich robes of the wealth. Neither will his judgement favor one race, or sex over the other.
This vision of a just leader is expressed in Psalm 72:1-2 ” Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son. May he judge your people, and your poor with justice.” Isn’t this what we hope for?
The portrait of this new world order is unlike our world today, where violence permeates the whole creation, with anger dividing people, no value of the sanctity of life. Ours is a world where wolves eat lambs, lion devoured calf, and bears spit out straw to destroy lamb.
But in the coming one resides the hope of the dawning of a new day when wolf shall lie down with lamb, the leopard shall lie down with kids, the bear and sheep shall feed passively together, the calf and the lion play together and a little child shall lead them, as displayed on the screen.
This kind of peace is not available in any worldly leader. Neither does it come from any human intervention, but divine actions, in which the rights of the poor and the frail members of society will be respected, and the powerful who mistreat the weak held accountable. This kind of peace comes from only God’s anointed one, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whom we await.
In a world full of failed and corrupt leaders, injustice and strife, the prophet Isaiah declares that one day Jesus will inaugurate his kingdom of justice, hope and peace. It seems impossible most days when we look at all the violence, injustice around us, but in these days of advent, we are reminded that he who came once, will come again in the power of his might, to lead with righteousness and justice.
I want to challenge each of us this morning, to begin to work towards this vision of God’s new world order. As a matter of fact, didn’t he tell us to love everyone, including those who hate us (Matthew 5:44)? Didn’t he urge us not to discriminate against people just because they are poor (James 2:2-4)? Did he not challenge us to live peacefully with everyone (Roman 12:17-18)? Didn’t he illustrate how we should love our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37) and care for the weak and vulnerable in society (Matthew 25:31-46)?
Therefore, God’s vision for a new world order is not just a mere wishful thinking or a utopia. As a matter of fact, it begins with you and me right here and now. Each of us can make a difference, however little it may be. When we United Methodists say our mission is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World,” this is exactly what we mean. Each one of us can work towards a peaceful and a just society that gives hope. And there is no better time to begin than this Advent season, as we await our Lord and Savior.
God bless you.