February 23, 2024
Summon Your Might, O God; Show your strength, O God, as you have done for us before. Because of your temple at Jerusalem, Kings bear gifts to you. Rebuke the wild animals that live among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample under foot those who lust after tribute; scatter the peoples who delight in war. Let bronze be brought from Egypt; let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hand to God.- Psalm 68:28-31 New Revised Standard Version
During this month designated as African American History Month we gather to consider the importance of remembering the African presence in biblical history. The lessons we focus upon this month are not only applicable to African Americans but equally apply to all persons; male, female, brown, black or white who have been systematically marginalized by oppressive governments.
Sometimes oppressed people feel that their oppression is purposeless and permanent because they are unable to access through memory the liberating interventions God has done for them in their past. Holy history teaches us that God has always intervened to liberate oppressed people from the scourge of oppression.
Dr. Jerome Ross, Professor of Hebrew Bible, reminds us that every word written between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 was written under one of six different kinds of oppression—Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman oppression. In each instance of oppression God liberated the people who were oppressed.
Wisely those people who benefitted from divine interventions, rehearsed those liberating interventions in songs to remind themselves and their progeny that God is a God who liberates his people from oppression.
Psalm 68:28-31 illustrates how a subjugated people remember God’s past acts of liberation and on the basis of his past acts anticipate his intervention to liberate them in their present predicament. Like Israel, those of us who have been systematically pushed to the margins of society must access our history and remember that the God who liberated us yesterday from the tyranny of systemic oppression is able to liberate us today.
That’s why James Weldon Johnson told us to do like the worshippers in this text:
“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us…”
Yours In Community Transformation.
Rev. Gillard S. Glover
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