Lenten Digital Guide 2023

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M E T R O P O L I T A N A M E C H U R C H T h e R i g h t R e v e r e n d J a m e s L e v e r t D a v i s , S e r v a n t B i s h o p R e v e r e n d R o n a l d E . B r a x t o n , D . M i n . , P r e s i d i n g E l d e r R e v e r e n d W i l l i a m H L a m a r I V , P a s t o r

FOREWORD

To God Be the Glory!

Two Thousand Twenty-three---A New Year

We are fortunate to be able to see a new year. In the show and movie, “The Wiz,” there is a song entitled “A Brand New Day.” The song is jubilant and touts freedom, courage, and change. “A Brand New Day” seems appropriate to sing after Jesus’ resurrection. We must first endure events leading to that awful Friday! We experience immeasurable joy realizing He defeated death.

Lent is the time of year we commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. It is a time to renew, repent, reflect, revive and rejoice.

The reflections in this booklet represent the myriad of ways the members and friends of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church experience this season of Lent and the reality of today. The thoughts and prayers come from a wide range of perspectives.

In our quest to follow the teachings of Jesus, this booklet is a component of the outreach ministry of the Commission on Christian Education. The compilation of scriptures, devotions, prayers and beliefs serve as testimony to the writer’s desire to share a spiritual journey.

We hope you will find this booklet to be a useful resource for your daily devotions. We invite you to join us in focusing on a spiritual journey through Lent and a joyous Easter!

RESURRECTION! CAN’T YOU FEEL A BRAND NEW DAY?

May God Bless You.

February 22, 2023

Ash Wednesday

WITHOUT BOASTING

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

There is something in us that wants to be commended for our personal piety and spiritual expressions. We are the preacher who “cuts the monkey” for pulpit attention. We are the parishioner who looks to the left and to the right to ensure maximum exposure prior to erupting into our shout or dance. The only reason Jesus taught about the problems and perils of putting on religious shows is because we have all put on religious shows.

Jesus’ warning is clear. A religious show or performative piety is its own reward. It is done to be seen, and once it has been consumed by its intended audience it is over. But those whose piety is a path into the mystery of God receive something more than glances from others. They receive strength, grace, peace, and power - gifts from the Ancient of Days.

Don’t blow your trumpet to announce your generosity. Don’t shout, “Look, y’all, I’m praying!” During this Lenten season let us steal away into the presence of the Holy One. Let us frequent our closets and pray fervently and secretly and earnestly. Let’s make sure no one sees us. Let’s do our spiritual work because we desire God, nothing more and nothing less.

Let’s fast without calling attention to ourselves, without telling folk about our brave, religious sacrifices. As we begin our 40-day journey of self-denial, let us open ourselves to and for God. If nothing else, beloved, we will learn where our treasure is.

Prayer: God be with us on the journey.

THE JOURNEY OF THE LENTEN SEASON

“So there were …. fourteen generations from the exile to Babylon to the Christ.”

Matthew 1: 17

The Lenten season takes us on a journey that invites reflection on Jesus’s life and ministry. My inclination this year is to take a sankofa approach to this period of reflection. It is logical to consider what those who come after Jesus’s life and ministry said about who Jesus was, whether it’s the New Testament writers, New Testament scholars, or preachers we revere. Who do they say Jesus was? The sankofa perspective also prompts us to ask who Jesus is and, by extension, “who His people?” Who Jesus is to us now depends, in no small part, on the tradition out of which He emerges. How does He speak, in the present moment, to the past?

This Lenten season, I am challenging myself to think about who Jesus was and is, yes. But I am also moved to think about who I am my familial and communal connection in relation to Jesus. What are the faith traditions out of which I emerge? What do the communities I have been and am a part of help reveal about and through the quiet mystery of God.

This Lenten season, who and what memories will you take with you on your journey toward God?

Prayer: God, help us to remember the ways we came to see and to know You through our families and our history. Help us to be a light that reflects Your love of people, of justice, and of peace to those we encounter today and then, still, to the beautiful ones yet unborn. Amen and asé.

February 23, 2023

WHY LENT MATTERS!!

“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe she wore” (2 Samuel 13:19). “Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes and cried with a loud bitter cry” (Esther 4:1).

Lent was established centuries ago by church leaders to help Christ followers remember the humility of Jesus and imitate Him as we are called to do. Following the life changing, disruptive rule of Covid-19 and the subsequent civil and political unrest, more than ever we need a day and a season to humble ourselves before God.

Lent means “the lengthening of days” and began during the apex of the Roman Empire and the infant years of the church. The 40-day period became infused with biblical meaning as it mirrored the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, the 40 days and nights of rain during the flood, the 40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai, the 40 days the spies searched out the land at God’s command, and the 40 days Jesus walked the earth between His resurrection and His ascension.

Lent services are usually marked by the application of ashes to the foreheads of worshippers who choose to come forward. Ashes were also indicative of mourning as cited throughout the Old Testament.

Prayer: Almighty God, As we approach the season of Lent, help us to live in a way that is more spiritual and more about serving and trusting in God and loving others. We offer this prayer in the Mighty Name of Jesus, our precious Lord and Savior. Amen.

February 24, 2023
STEWARD ELIAS “PETE”

WILDERNESS TEMPTATIONS

“God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can endure it ”

1 Corinthians 10:13

Jesus was tempted. Temptation is coaxing or inducing a person into committing an act by manipulation or curiosity. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, fasted for forty days, and was tempted by the devil. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, turn this stone into bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led Jesus to a high place, showed him the kingdoms of the world and said, “I will give you all their authority and splendor if you worship me.” Jesus answered, “It is written, ”Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” The devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, placed him on the pinnacle of the temple and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written that angels are commanded to guard and lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Luke 4:1-12

We are tempted everyday by food, flesh, and other worldly things. Seek the Lord when you are being tempted.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to not yield to temptations. Amen

February 25, 2023
TRUSTEE

‘HOW GREAT THOU ART’?

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the works Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow’r thru-out the universe displayed!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;

How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in –That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow in humble adoration

And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art

February 26, 2023

“VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION”*

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

We live in a world of temptations and distractions that can take our eyes off Jesus Christ. There are many images and words sent by social media, marketers, entertainment venues, and inspired by our quest for instant gratification to please the flesh. During this Lenten season, we are reminded of our salvation through Jesus Christ empowering us with the Holy Spirit to overcome these temptations and distractions through prayer and fasting.

It is impossible for us to resist temptation, but as the scripture, Matthew 19:26 states, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Expressing prayer by whispered words or by social media to Jesus is the only way that helps us to conquer the urge when temptation arises.

Prayer: Our Father, thank you for the creation of life, your unconditional love, grace, and mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us strength to conquer temptation.

*Reprinted from Lent 2011

2023
February 27,

THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. ” Psalms 136:1

Approaching this Lenten season, I am reflecting on my journey I am abundantly blessed with so much in which to rejoice There have been challenges, yet God brought me through. Those obstacles are minuscule compared to His manifold blessings.

I know the Lord for myself. These are just a few of my blessings: Family and friends traveled to celebrate my 80th birthday in a splendid manner all planned by my two granddaughters. I recently became a great-grandmother when older granddaughter blessed our family with a healthy and beautiful baby girl And, upon retiring from a career in federal service, God blessed me to touch many lives while serving as a math and reading instructor for more than a decade.

Most recently, I connected with four former students (siblings) who are now young adults and tremendously blessed by God as they pursue their ambitions. One individual is attending law school; the second is working on a Ph.D.; the third is an accountant working to become a CPA; and the fourth is a student at Brown University. Our God is an awesome God! These four young persons are from a Christian home and they know and love the Lord. As we reflect on the goodness of God this season, let us continue to give Him thanks for His grace, His mercy and His love for us.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. Teach us to live by thy word every day and let our heart unto you always pray. Amen.

February 28, 2023

RELEASING AND RENEWING DURING THIS LENTEN SEASON

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

Since the Lenten Season is a time for us to release and renew on both a mental and spiritual level, I want to share a few of the “Release and Renew Affirmations” that I will focus on this Lenten Season.

1. I release problems that seem to overwhelm me. With everything that comes my way I have a powerful choice; fight what is and become mired in the mess or release my resistance and use my energy to create solutions.

2. I release any sense of worry. The law of divine order is at work in my life, harmony is satisfied in me, and I behold myself a tower of spiritual strength and stability.

3. I release thoughts of illness. I renew my openness to the healing power of Spirit. I am open to the presence of life in which I live and move and have my being. As I focus on the Holy Spirit that is within and all around me, I renew my openness to the healing power of Spirit.

4. I let go and let God. I release outworn behaviors and embrace my bright, brilliant future

Prayer: Father/God, I pray the song: It’s working, this is my season for grace, for favor, this is the season to reap what I have sown. You are leaning in my direction, cause, this is my season for grace and favor.

March 1, 2023

WHEN “NO” IS A TEST OF FAITH

Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoeni'cian by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, "Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." And he said to her, "For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone. Mark 7:26-30 RSV

I have always admired people who pursued sales as an occupation. Getting the proverbial door slammed in your face by the word, no, in all its forms. Constantly, dusting your ego off and creating new strategies to get someone to say “yes” to your proposition. It was never one of my skills and lead me to a more scientific profession.

In our study scripture, a woman approaches Jesus to rid her daughter of demonic possession. Jesus gives the woman in the language of the street His back hand. Calling her and her daughter “dogs” not worthy of His time. However, the woman is the ultimate seller pointing out that even dogs get to eat at the master’s table. She could have easily walked away after the insult but her faith didn’t allow her to accept “no”. Her faith and persistence yielded her the results she sought.

Brothers and sisters, we all will be met with “no” as we try to follow the Great Commission of spreading the word of Jesus but we must be like the woman in this story and let this be a test of your faith.

Prayer: Holy God, grant us the faith to spread the news of Jesus in the face of “No’s”

March 2, 2023

HERE HE COMES TO SAVE THE DAY

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5: 3, 5 (NRSV)

God of Justice speaks of the poor and meek inheriting heaven and earth! Sovereign God selects a marginalized, unwed virgin teen and anoints her mother of the King of Kings!

The scene: Preteen Carlos on Saturday mornings, watching the cartoon, Mighty Mouse, with his siblings. Yes, a mouse with superpowers (like Superman) who sang in his baritone voice, “Here I come to save the day.” Mighty Mouse fought for justice and was a crusader against evil. This was before video games, so the four of us would enact the scenes to entertain ourselves. I was the oldest and biggest, so naturally I was the hero. My sisters were the youngest (we weren’t enlightened to gender or age bias) and played the defenseless victims. My poor younger brother, Bernard, to his chagrin, was always assigned the role of villain.

Thankfully, through the years, my brother has discarded all the negative roles with which family (me) and society had tagged him. He has, victoriously, assumed the role that God preordained, “Fisher of Men.” Bernard Clifton Botts, this year, became an ordained Baptist minister. The ancestors are rejoicing.

Prayer: Parent God, thank you for your son, who though rich, became poor that we might be rich. Thank you, Jesus for showing us the way to truth, light, and life. Amen.

March 3, 2023

LESSONS FROM THE CROSS

And if you do good to them who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.

Luke 6:33 NIV

Lessons are learned from each person we encounter in our lives. It can be a relative, friend or a stranger. At the grocery store a lady treated the checkout clerk and me to a cup of coffee from Starbucks. I said, “thank you” and “she replied “it is good to reward people who are nice to you.”

There are four lessons we can learn from the cross at this Lenten season: to pray unceasingly, to fast from food, technology, or whatever you do in excess, to repent as necessary and to love unconditionally. Jesus wants us to draw closer to Him by establishing a relationship with Him. Google states that it takes from 18-254 days to establish a habit and the average person will accomplish it in 66 days. You can get a start on drawing closer to God and even if you are unsuccessful, you will become committed and consistent in your walk with the Lord.

Alfred Ackley explains it so appropriately in his song “He Lives.” In part, the lyrics are: “He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives salvation to impart. You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”

Prayer: Jesus, help me to be kind to people who are unkind to me.

March 4, 2023
SISTER JUDITH WATKINS STEWARDESS

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY

1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

March 5, 2023

WHY ARE BOOKS BANNED?

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25.

Prior to the 15th century the Bible was in print but available only to bishops, priests, religious leaders, and the royals (people with money). In 1592 it was made available for the literate public.

Our enslaved ancestors were not allowed to read or write. If they read the Bible, they would learn that Jesus is love and there is forgiveness. They would learn about the Egyptians who were slavers and how God saved the Israelites. When slave owners learned that some slaves could read, they removed certain sections of the Bible, banned the reading of the Bible and deleted certain sections.

Today segments of our political leadership are banning certain books. Twenty-two percent of the banned books address race and racism. Ten percent address themes related to rights and activism. The more you know, the more involved you are.

Because the Bible was banned it made the slaves more interested in what it said. The same will happen to the books now being banned. God always has a plan. It is not the plan of evil men. What men make evil; God can make good. We have read with our own eyes that Christ is coming again.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, indeed reading is fundamental. Help us, encourage us to read in preparation for a more fulfilling life. Amen

March 6, 2023

IT’S NOT WORK

“They’re busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people law abiding, God-honoring.” Isaiah 58: 1-3 NMB

We are creatures of habit. It’s human nature. However, our habits are inextricably linked to outcomes that help us keep afloat in a system where winners win big, and losers lose hard. We accept this. The minutia of our daily lives become dictated by working within this unforgiving reality and we find ourselves committing to tasks that are void of satisfaction, discovery, and Heaven knows revolution. Life gurus convince us that organizing a checklist will derive pleasure in continuing this cycle of chores. We even place our worship habits within this tabulated formula. It can be hard not to expect this aspect of our lives to behave in the same way with obvious outcomes, start and finish times, reliability and efficiency. If God doesn’t work that way our spiritual life shouldn’t behave that way.

To fast and concentrate on the Lord, is to upend the expectations of a “bottom line” focused mindset. It reminds us that our truest purpose and freest self cannot be contained. When we walk a path that our Creator has cleared for us, we depart from the path society has paved. Freedom awaits us where only God can shine a guiding light.

Prayer: Mother Universe, reorient us. Remind us that your daughter Harriet lead freedomseekers through swampland, bogs and boats at night. You are the Master Organizer, and we submit to a calling that uproots systems built for the demise of many and profit of the few. Amen.

March 7, 2023

BLIND SPOT

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Psalm 139:23

Too often we assume our blind spot is the pain we are experiencing and that everything would be clearer and better once the pain is gone. But frequently the real blind spot is the work God wants to do in us, a work we don’t see taking shape yet. Perhaps your blind spot is the realization that God wants to be your provider and pour into your life the love you have always wanted. Perhaps your blind spot is the realization that God wants to fill that place of longing in your heart with Himself alone.

It is possible that God wants you to see Him as a perfect Father who is able to make you complete and whole. Maybe God wants to show you that when you pursue Him with all your heart, you will be living out His dream for you. God understands the longings of your heart even more than you do. He knows what is at the root of everything you desire.

Prayer Father, please expose our blind spots with your light, so they don’t cause us to stand on slippery ground. Amen

March 8, 2023
SISTER GERALDINE LEGREE DISCIPLESHIP GROUP

“MAKE THAT CHANGE”

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, the Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:21 (ESV)

Recently, my family and I visited New York City and had the opportunity to enjoy “MJ, The Musical,” the Broadway interpretation of Michael Jackson’s life story. The cast did a wonderful job of showcasing his talents as they developed over time. As he grew into manhood, Michael’s music matured as well. The song that resonated with me, both in the show and when it was originally released was “Man In The Mirror.” In its words “if you want to make the world a better place, then look at yourself and make a change.” As he says, there can’t be a clearer message.

The biblical principles given to us in the form of the Ten Commandments provide the outline for us on how to serve God and lovingly live with each other. Are we following those ancient words that can be interpreted to modern times? Think about it. If not, it may be time to “make that change.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, may your Word serve as a beacon of light to us as we strive to live by faith in Your Son.

March 9, 2023
2

GOD’S WORDS OF PEACE

Prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. (Ephesians 6:18)

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, he delivered me from all fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding us that peace is one of your gifts to us. Amen.

March 10, 2023
SISTER GERALDINE LEGREE PEARL P. COOK SENIOR CITIZENS CLUB

THE BLESSING OF PEACE

“The Lord gives strength to His people. The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29:10

We are often encouraged to participate in worship. And I do. We also come to worship seeking a blessing. A few Sundays back, we were blessed by our choir’s rendition of my favorite hymn, “When Peace Like a River.” My experience is often reflected in tears at this moment, but I have learned to appreciate the unmistakable peace that follows.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say it is well with my soul. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul. It Is Well.”

As we enter into this time of Lent, be assured the Lord blesses us with peace.

Prayer: Father God, I thank you for this assurance.

March 11, 2023

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee, Thou changes not, Thy compassion's, they fail not,

As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Summer and winter, springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above, Join with all nature in manifold witness, To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see, All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

March 12, 2023

KEEP ON PRAYING

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying Romans 12:12

When life comes fast, PRAY!

Recently, a national football game, turned into a national prayer vigil. We witnessed a young player fall to the ground, suffering cardiac arrest. He needed immediate lifesaving help. The other players fell to their knees and prayed. TV sportscasters and reporters encouraged prayer Nationwide, people from all walks of life, different ethnicities, faiths & beliefs prayed for his life to be restored. They kept praying.

I loved seeing and hearing about so many people praying. It was meaningful to me. For me, prayer is essential Every move I make and every step I take, I whisper a prayer of thanks.

Brothers and sisters, please consider personal and private daily prayer, especially during this Lenten season. Personally, after I tell the Lord all about my troubles (real or imagined), I feel better. If all of us pray to the Lord daily for 40 days during Lent, we may begin a powerful and positive daily practice that extends way beyond the Lenten season.

I’ve found regular and consistent daily prayer is liberating and illuminating. Being able to thank God in prayer for daily blessings, is itself a blessing. Today we need believers earnestly praying more than ever. Spend time with Jesus, you will not regret it. What a friend we have in Jesus Let’s keep on praying.

Prayer: Oh Lord our God, thank you for hearing our prayers and for the privilege to carry everything to You in prayer. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

March 13, 2023

BELIEVE.…

The single word “believe” has appeared lately in many advertisements, holiday decorations and much more. I must say it caught my attention. What does it mean in this context? Believe in what? Is there an anticipated reaction from consumers to believe in or trust the products or advertisers?

Believe - the meaning is Christ centered and taught in the Word of God. We believe There is power in the name of Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world. And, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The word believe fills me with hope, trust, joy, inspiration and faith. It convicts me to trust God as the Holy Spirit guides in prayer, believing that what we ask for, we receive. Spiritual belief, especially during this Lenten season, is evident in our affirmation of faith: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead; and buried. The third day he arose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

Prayer: Lord God, we believe you and we thank you for answering our prayers. Amen

March 14, 2023
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22
SISTER JACQUELINE BROWN WOODY FRIEND OF METROPOLITAN

THANK YOU LORD

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17

“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet ” 1 Thessalonians 5:8

A few days after Thanksgiving, I tested positive for COVID. My physician prescribed Paxlovid which lowered my fever. It took me about six weeks to get back to what I considered normal for my body. The time in isolation allowed me to relax, think and sleep. I took time to pray and thank God for the pharmaceutical science that was healing my body. I was definitely enjoying being alive; because, without that science, my preexisting health issues could have been overwhelmed by COVID.

During this Lenten season, relax, pray, have faith in God’s direction, and thank Him for the hope He gave us when he sacrificed his Son.

Prayer: Heavenly Parent, help us to be open to your direction and thank you for your grace and the sacrifice of your one and only Son, Jesus. Amen.

March 15, 2023

GRATITUDE

“…your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23: 4

At watch night service, Pastor Lamar encouraged testimony from the congregation. He suggested that our message could be exactly what someone else needed to hear. As a people, we have similar trials and victories, but too often we have resisted sharing them with anyone. On that Saturday evening, we heard speakers who were grateful for the dawning of a new year; 2022 had delivered a variety of bumps, bruises, joy, and relief.

“Grateful” and “gratitude” occupy a lot of space in advice columns, lyrics, best-selling books, and inspirational décor and accessories. Gratitude is the expression of thankfulness for blessings. However, when life delivers bumps and bruises, gratitude may become simply a nine-letter word, lacking depth or sincerity. At that point, we sometimes find ourselves “faking it until we make it.” Perhaps, that is the feature of faith that has greatest significance as we “hang onto God’s unchanging hand.”

Whether your bumps and bruises are self-inflicted, the result of resistance, or otherwise cast upon you, scripture and the elders have created another set of lyrics that remind us to hold on to witness “the bright side somewhere.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, some days we need a reminder that our souls have a shepherd in the valley and on the mountaintop. Thank you for your abiding presence and power in both places. Amen

March 16, 2023
SISTER MARSHA TURNER BOTTS LOVE & PEACE UNIT/SAMS CHURCH SCHOOL

BE KIND. BE GOOD

“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut from the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Mark: 11: 7-9; NIV

Gregory Porter, a jazz artist, writes extraordinarily beautiful lyrics performed to equally beautiful music. You can become addicted. Among my favorites is his performance of “Take Me to the Alley:”

“Well, they guild their houses in preparation for the King

And they line the sidewalks with every sort of shiny thing

They will be surprised when they hear him say

Take me to the alley, take me to the afflicted ones

Take me to the lonely ones that somehow lost their way

Let them hear me say, I am your friend

Come to my table, rest here in my garden

You will have a pardon . . .”*

This, for me, is not just the message of the Easter season, rather, a reminder of how we can live our lives abundantly. We can provide comfort.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us achieve the grace and courage necessary to stand with others in need and the wisdom to do that which is right.

DANIEL

*Lyrics from “Take Me to the Alley,” written by Gregory Porter, 2016. Source: Musixmatch.

March 17, 2023

GIVING IN TO “THE PULL”

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke…to set the oppressed free and break every yoke…to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…to clothe the naked…and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6-7

Over the Christmas holidays, my husband and I were blessed to visit and babysit for our twoyear old grandson in Santa Monica, California. We had heard about the high cost of living and the affordable housing problems, but we are no stranger to housing issues in Washington, D.C. As we ventured out, the stark realities of the national housing problem were on full display, on a massive scale. In Venice, thousands of people were living in tents at the curb, and en route to the new multi-billion dollar, state-of-the-art So-Fi Stadium in Inglewood, CA., we saw thousands of people living in “tent cities.” Like in D.C. and all over the country, people are being displaced because of economic policies that can accommodate luxury but not affordability.

Pastor William H. Lamar IV recently preached about giving in to the “pull” many of us are experiencing in these dystopian times. He spoke of surrendering to the pull to use our gifts to serve the “right people.” As we contemplate our calling in life, we may be pulled to serve the people in the tents outside the billion-dollar arena, rather than be the ones who can afford a ticket to the game.

Prayer: Dear Lord, instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol during this Lenten season, help us to choose the right kind of fasting and surrender to the “pull” to “loose the chains of injustice…to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…and not turn away from our own flesh and blood.” Amen

March 18, 2023
SISTER MAURITA COLEY-FLIPPIN STEWARD EMERITUS DANIEL ALEXANDER PAYNE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread thro' all the earth abroad the honors of your name.

'tis music in the sinner's ears, 'tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin, he sets the prisoner free; his blood can make the foulest clean; his blood availed for me.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease,

To God all glory, praise, and love be now and ever given, by saints below and saints above, the Church in earth and heaven.

March 19, 2023

CAREFULLY LISTENING

“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! “ - Matthew 11:15 (NLT)

Do you sometimes hear a speech or a sermon that arouses you? You stand up and clap with others around you. You leave church talking about what a good sermon the pastor preached. You listened and you may be able to recite phrases from the message. But did you understand what the message was saying to you? What is God instructing YOU to do? The message to your minister and your neighbor may not be the same message that God is sending to you.

During this Lenten Season, let’s drown out the noise and listen for the personal message to each of us. It is not just a time to abstain from certain foods and bad habits. It is a time to stop and understand the message that God is sending to YOU. What is He instructing you to do? You are giving up gossip, but what good deeds are being replaced by gossip in your life? You are giving up certain foods and drinks, but have you thought about the message God may be sending to you about feeding those who do not have the luxury of giving up a certain food during Lent?

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for bringing us through the turmoil of the past few years. Help us to refocus our lives to listen to you and heed the call you are placing on our lives.

March 20, 2023

STOP. LISTEN.

“My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me.”

The song says, “I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.” Unfortunately, I can get so busy with life, work, church, other organizations, etc. that I sometimes miss my name when He calls. In the busyness of life, I am often not still. I try to multitask. I often find myself in such a whirl that one of my friends will say, “Shut your brain down for a while.”

Following His voice might not always be easy. It requires discipline and a willingness to shut out the problems and cares of this world. However, doing so does give us the peace that we are living and moving in His will. As we move through Lent, I hope those of us who are occupied with “busyness” will be more intentional about making time to sit and “listen for [our] names.”

Prayer: Father forgive us when our busyness keeps us from recognizing your voice. As we move through Lent we will remember the sacrifice you made for us. We pray that we will find you in the stillness. Amen.

March 21, 2023

IF YOU BELIEVE IT - LIVE LIKE IT

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

Once again, our gracious God has allowed us to journey with our Savior through another 40 days of reflection, prayer and repentance to renew and accept the blessing of Easter Sunday.

We live in a fallen world, full of peaks and valleys that sometimes lead to transformative mountain top experiences. In these moments of growth, there is always a lesson that builds our faith and strength in the living God that we serve. Let us remember and hold tight not only to the lessons from those experiences, but also to live as Christ taught and preached while he dwelt on earth:

• Love God with all your heart and soul

• Love your neighbor as you love yourself

• Forgive to be forgiven

• Always choose joy

• Be grateful and give thanks in all seasons

• Extend and practice the grace of God

Prayer: Living and gracious God, we seek you with our whole heart, with your presence to lead and guide us to live as Christ taught that our lives may reflect the heart of our living Savior Amen

March 22, 2023

BETRAYED

And while they were eating, he said, “Amen I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Matthew

Fellowship and communion with family and friends are what many people missed during the pandemic. We enjoy the opportunity to meet, engage in discussions, laugh, and spend quality time gathered around a table over a good meal.

Now picture this scenario where you are dining with your closest friends, people with whom you have bonded and shared your innermost thoughts and feelings, knowing that one of them would be setting you up to be murdered. Could you contain yourself? Could you pass the bread to that person, share a drink from the carafe, continue the conversation around the table, and sit peaceably by? Jesus did; knowing his betrayer and the agony of what lay ahead.

We use a forty day season as a reminder of this episode. We think disdainfully of the betrayer leaving the table to do his dirty deed. As we judge Judas, let us also look at ourselves. How often have we left the table, the “good sermon, ” Bible study, seminars, and friendly church gatherings and turned our backs on the things we know are right and just to do? We forget our witness, spiritual beliefs, moral compasses, and those in need. If we purport to be Christians but our actions do not glorify Jesus, we are guilty of betrayal.

During this season of Lent, let us be mindful of the things we do that cause us to ask the betrayer’s question, “Lord is it I?”

Prayer: Dear Lord, you so openly welcome and accept us with our flaws. Let us remember that what we do to the least of these, we do to You. Amen

March 23, 2023

DAY BY DAY

“Because of God’s great love we are not consumed, for God’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Our grandson Richard is a theater kid. While he delights in any live theatrical performance, he has a particular affinity for musicals. He loves being in an audience and he also has performed in every musical staged at his high school. As a senior, everything, even his high school musical, has a special shimmer.

This year’s production is “Godspell.” Written in 1973, “Godspell” is comprised of parables found in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus uses song and dance to recruit and teach his followers. I saw “Godspell” in the early 1970’s. Some thought that the musical was sacrilegious. I felt differently. For me, it was a retelling of many parables in a contemporary and relatable way.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience “Godspell” anew through Richard’s rehearsals. We have had several wonderful conversations about the play and its lessons. One evening as Richard was sharing the soundtrack with me, he played a favorite song: “Day by Day.”

Day by day Day by day Oh, dear Lord

I will hold dear the memory of swaying with Richard at the kitchen counter singing together slightly off key. As we approach this Lenten season, these simple lyrics also encapsulate my prayer as we move toward the agony of Good Friday to the glory of Easter.

Prayer: Dear Holy Parent - I give you thanks for the beauty of each new day, whatever it may bring. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

March 24, 2023
I pray
see Thee more clearly Love Thee more dearly Follow Thee more nearly Day by day
Three things
To

SPRING HAS SPRUNG – A TIME OF RENEWAL

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presenceor take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalms 51:10-12

Sometimes, I find my Christian walk is bright, colorful and full of life. During other seasons of my life, my walk is dull, dormant, and showing minimal signs of life. In order to experience a renewed heart and spirit we may have to prune, clean and fertilize our lives. Here lies the challenge as this process requires work, effort and commitment (Lay Organization mantra at this writing).

Pruning requires that we “cut-off” or let go of dead limbs; allowing the release of resentments and allowing forgiveness to settle in our hearts.

The “cleaning” is removing clutter in my world. Not just the clutter of junk, but the clutter that steals time and joy. I find myself examining how I use my time… am I growing closer to God?

Am I strengthening relationships or selfishly focusing on my needs?

Then there’s the fertilizer…. How do you fertilize your spirit? A commitment to prayer time.

When we have pruned, cleaned and fertilized our hearts and spirits, God allows us to grow, bloom and be renewed. This spring do the “work” necessary to receive the gift of renewal and refreshment from God.

Prayer: Father we commit ourselves not to faint or lose heart. With a renewed spiritual attitude, we come to you for your word to revive us and give us life. Amen

March 25, 2023

WORTHY IS THE LAMB

Thank you for the cross Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

CHORUS

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crowns

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

March 26, 2023

PROTECT YOUR POSTURE IN GETHSEMANE

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus … who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

As children, we were often told to maintain good posture as part of our muscular development Maintaining good posture requires concentrated focus and effort As I grow in my relationship with God I’ve realized the necessity of keeping my spiritual posture in moments of Gethsemane. The story of Jesus and his moments in Gethsemane illuminate his humanness that connects us to him. In the Lenten season we must remember to be purposeful in maintaining our spiritual posture. In moments of distress, it’s easy to allow our emotions to control our actions and responses; resulting in frustration and discouragement. Jesus did, as well.

However, spiritual posture requires that we focus and meditate on God’s words in the moment to gain spiritual strength We experience Gethsemane moments for our lives. They challenge us, but the importance lies not in the moment itself, but rather in how we respond to the moment. With the strength of our response, let these instances press us forward to Resurrection Sunday.

Prayer: Father, we are grateful that you came to heal, redeem, and set us free. Let the comfort of your grace and strength align and stretch our posture to reflect your image Amen.

March 27, 2023

BEING OBEDIENT TO THE VOICE WITHIN YOU

“But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28

Years have passed since Richard and I completed our time at Howard University. Along the way, we made mistakes that WE dug ourselves out of. As I look back over those years, I realize that I made a great decision of choosing Richard. In my youth, I knew what I wanted in my life partner. The love for God’s word was at the top of the list. I can remember us calling his mom to discuss scripture. Around that time “Ma”/a.k.a. Nonna/a.k.a. Ms. Donna invited us to Metropolitan.

As we started to grow with each other we wanted to start a family. It didn't happen right away. We started to get discouraged and thought there might be a different idea of a family for us Then, two years later, I was pregnant. I remember going to one of my final doctor's appointments where I was put on bed rest. I didn't have time to say goodbye to my students. I was to stay at home and rest.

Months before my due date, I remember a strong feeling to make plans for the substitute teacher

The plan paid off. I knew my due date and I went to the next appointment with Ash Wednesday on my mind, but I delivered on that day. It is no wonder that Zora will sometimes give you a word. Other times when she is playing with her dolls, she will sing an uplifting or encouraging song.

Prayer: Dear God. Take me back to where you are my first thought; no matter what. You got me. You always have and always will. Thank you for covering my family and friends and keeping me on this theological journey.

March 28, 2023

FORGIVE THEM FATHER, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Innocent but, with outcries of demand from the mob, the orders for crucifixion were given, and Jesus was placed upon the cross and lynched. Yet his first words while awaiting death were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He called on God to forgive those people who advocated for his death, as well as those who participated in carrying it out.

As Christians, we are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us. ”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus taught, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43–44)

Yet as I review the history of the world and of this country, I stand witness to and struggle daily with man’s inhumanity to man. I struggle and pray for change that we will one day really treat all our neighbors with the love of God.

Prayer : Lord, I love you and seek in prayer answers for an end to the unnecessary troubles of the world. Humanity has the ability to provide enough food for everyone, restore and share the earth, treat each other with respect, and end needless violence. Help us to see the light that Jesus made available to us. Help us to use it to make changes for the future of humanity. Amen

March 29, 2023

EVERLASTING LOVE

“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

When our loved one passes away, we honor them by having a dignified, solemn funeral service. The deceased is carried to the church service in hearse while immediate family members follow in a limousine. After the songs of thanksgiving, consolation, and a few reflections about the deceased, mourners follow the hearse to the final resting place, then we gather for a repast

Scripture records that Jesus was wrongly accused, betrayed and rejected; beaten and mocked. He was tried and sentenced to die for our sins. Even as He was enduring the pain, Jesus continued to ask God to forgive us. Jesus never stopped loving us. There are no similarities between how we cherish our loved ones when they die and what happened when Jesus died. Unlike us riding in a limo, Jesus carried his cross to Calvary. Unlike us honoring our deceased with a coffin and fine clothing, Jesus’ body was dropped on the ground until the disciples came to retrieve the body, cleanse and bury according to tradition.

It’s truly amazing that while suffering excruciating pain, Jesus continued to show His compassion by asking God to forgive us. As we recall Jesus’ death and resurrection, let’s remember the ultimate price He paid for our sins and His love for us.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your son, Jesus Christ and all He did to save us from our sins. We thank God for using His only begotten son to show us how we should love one another unconditionally. Amen.

March 30, 2023

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE CROSS

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross [and you are responsible].” Act 5:30 - The Amplified Bible

The Lenten season offers several symbols of suffering, promise and hope. Among the most common are handmade crosses made of dried palm leaves placed in windows, automobiles, bibles, and various places.

For many decades I’ve been fascinated with and collected artifacts of crosses of various shapes and sizes -variations with doves in the center, jewels, crowns, motifs of Jesus and my favorite -a two-foot mosaic of mirrored glass. The latter of which are 40 pieces of jagged glass glued together and affixed upon a piece of driftwood. This specific cross represents several significant symbolisms of Lent:

• Forty days of inner reflection during this penitential season

• Mirrors as a reminder to look at ourselves squarely and our relationship with the Holy One without judgment

• The wood frame representing the crucifixion of Christ hanging from the tree for our salvation

• Broken glass indicating the state of the world in which we dwell

• Glue symbolizing Jesus as the light of the world holding us together through our faith

• The shorter horizontal wood juxtaposed against the elongated vertical frame representing the open arms of Jesus saying, ‘come to me Beloved and rest safely in my loving arms.’

Prayer: Thank you Holy Spirit for the precious love of Thee and your ultimate sacrifice for humanity, we your children. Amen

March 31, 2023

CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST

“And they Crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.” Mark 15: 24.

It pains my heart to think about Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross. He was nailed to the cross through his hands and pierced in his sides. He was abused and suffered so much pain and cruelty. Godless men forced him to carry his cross unassisted, but Jesus never fought them physically or verbally. He had faith that God the Father would get Him through this agony, pain, and suffering.

God is faithful to us and his Son. Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to sit on the right hand of God, the FatherAlmighty. His sacrifices save us from our sins so we may live and have everlasting life through Him.

Jesus’sacrifices are examples of faith, obedience, trust, hope, and strength. During this Lenten season when I am faced with tough situations, I want to reflect on Jesus and how He was able to navigate difficulties. Jesus wants us to follow and believe in Him. He has shielded me from the pandemic, storms, sickness, and financial difficulties Through His crucifixion our sins are forgiven and we gain abundant life I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and died for me. I am grateful beyond words to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord, no matter how difficult the challenges may be, help me to trust and believe in You; that You were crucified to save me from sin so that I may have everlasting life.

April 1, 2023

O’ER ALL THE WAY

1 O'er all the way green palms and blossoms gay

Are strewn this day in festive preparation, Where Jesus comes, to wipe our tears away, E'en now the throng to welcome Him prepare.

Refrain:

Join all and sing His name declare, Let ev'ry voice resound with acclamation, Hosanna! Praised be the Lord!

Bless Him, who cometh to bring us salvation!

2 His word goes forth, and people by its might

Once more their freedom gain from degradation,

Humanity doth give to each his right, While those in darkness find restored the light.

Join all and sing His name declare, Let ev'ry voice resound with acclamation, Hosanna! Praised be the Lord!

Bless Him, who cometh to bring us salvation!

3 Sing and rejoice, O blest Jerusalem, Of all thy sons sing the emancipation, Thro’ boundless love, the Christ of Bethlehem Brings faith the hope to thee forevermore.

Join all and sing His name declare, Let ev'ry voice resound with acclamation, Hosanna! Praised be the Lord!

Bless Him, who cometh to bring us salvation!

Source: Uplifted Voices: a 20th century hymn book for sunday-schools and devotional meetings #84

Palm Sunday April 2, 2023

WHAT EASTER MEANS TO ME

“He is not here; he has risen!….” Luke 24:6

What Easter means to me Is down in my heart The story all about Jesus It’s told from the start

How He rose that great morning And rolled away the stone He did it for us all And did it all alone

Showing all His love When He got up that great day As He promised that He would He’d have it no other way

So there we have it my friends Because we all are set free And everyone surely knows What Easter means to me.

Thomas Swist, Jr.

© 2011 Poetry Soup by Thomas Swist, Jr.

Prayer: Praise God and thank You Jesus for saving my life. Amen

April 3, 2023

SACRIFICE: NO GREATER LOVE

“ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ” Romans 5: 8

We have often heard a parent, grandparent or other loving person say, “if only I could take this illness or hardship from my child or loved one, I would gladly do it” . It is in the nature of great love to wish to shield those we care for from pain, illness or tragedy. We would gladly sacrifice our well-being in order to protect them and keep the rough patches of life away. Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate their suffering just by wishing it away.

If we are to emulate God’s demonstration of love and sacrifice, however, we must move beyond our personal circles and offer love to those we may not know and endure sacrifices for their wellbeing as well. We can do this through ministries at the church, involvement in our communities and by extending ourselves to those whom we see are in need. There are so many young people who need guidance, encouragement and a belief that someone cares about their lives. Young mothers who shoulder great responsibilities could use a free evening for themselves and a senior who spends days alone would love dinner with a family. We have so much to share that we rarely think to offer. God’s love is all encompassing and freely given. We can never equal the sacrifice of his Son for our sins but we can be better stewards of the gifts He has given us by sharing them with our fellow man.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the mercy you ’ ve shown us by sending Christ to lay down His life on our behalf. By your Spirit, help us share this sacrifice with others. In Jesus ’ name we pray. Amen.

April 4, 2023
STEWARD THEDFORD COLLINS STEWARD PRO TEM

PROPHECY: RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Isa. 60:1, 3. “He (Jesus) will swallow up death in victory.. .;” Isa 25:8.

Jesus became human and took the judgement on himself so that we as sinners could go free. Our sins were placed on Jesus' head. It was in His blood that our debt was paid in full. But if the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead is the same spirit that dwells in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in us. Rom. 8:11.

Therefore, we bless your name Jehovah-Tsidkenu, Our righteousness. Thank you for becoming sin for us through the shedding of your blood that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The Lord exalted His Name and His Word above all names. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and His Name is Jesus.

Prayer: Father I believe in my heart that you raised Jesus from the dead and I thank you that He died for all our sins. That through His death old things will have passed away and all things become new. Amen

April 5, 2023

GOD, I EXTEND MY HANDS TO YOU

“She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hand to the needy” Proverbs 31:20

I constantly pray to God to guide my heart to be more charitable and less selfish, to guide me in the path of a good steward; and to order my steps so that I may walk, talk, stand, and act in a manner that is pleasing in His sight. Each time I pray for these things the Holy Spirit directs me to recite and reflect on my favorite scripture:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs .Love never fails.

During this Lenten season, we are reminded of our salvation through the grace of God helping us to deny ourselves for a period of prayer and fasting. Through the gift of God, we are saved by grace through faith, which gives us courage to resist temptation.

I am so humbly thankful for the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me. I am thankful for the Lord’s grace and mercy. I am thankful for the Lord showing my sons and me favor. I am the Lord’s vessel. I am the Lord’s instrument; humble and willing to serve in the precious name of Jesus.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord.

April 6, 2023

ALAS AND DID MY SAVIOR BLEED

1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed And did my Sov’reign die? Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I had done He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut his glories in, When Christ, the mighty Maker died, For man the creature’s sin.

4. Thus might I hide my blushing face While His dear cross appears, Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, And melt my eyes to tears.

5. But drops of grief can ne’er repay The debt of love I owe:

Good Friday

April 7, 2023

Here, Lord, I give myself away, ’Tis all that I can do.

o Refrain (Hudson): At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

o Refrain (Campmeeting): I do believe, I do believe That Jesus died for me; And through His blood, His precious blood I am from sin set free.

- Isaac Watts & Ralph E. Hudson

HE LIVES ACCORDING TO PURPOSE!

“5. Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6.He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” 8. Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5-8 (NIV)

The women who came looking for Jesus in the tomb were surprised when He was not there. They were met by two angels, who proclaimed the resurrection of Christ. Jesus the Christ, the Almighty One who lives to bring healing to the nations, restoring of sight to the blind, and cleansing of soul to the lost, still lives in accordance with divinely ordered purpose and in accordance with God’s plan. What’s so amazing about Jesus the Christ is that He is faithful to His goal. He seeks to model the way of righteousness and communion with the Father for those who seek to know God. “Jesus [says], I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV)

Jesus responds to the world’s rejection of His presence and purpose by granting more love, forgiveness, and healing.

Responding to one’s purpose is a life-time journey of goal-fulfillment which can be realized with Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to live completely, in accordance with purpose.

April 8, 2023
REVEREND DR. SANDRA SHANDS-STRONG ITINERANT ELDER PASTOR’S STUDY CHURCH SCHOOL

EASTER SUNDAY: A CALL AND RESPONSE

The Call: Let us rejoice and sing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, Alleluia!

The Response: As we sing, we hear and receive Your Word, Lord, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19 NIV).

The Call: Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

The Response: “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonders, I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2 NIV).

The Call: Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!

The Response: “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one” (Acts 4:12 The Message Bible).

The Call: Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

The Response: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV).

The Call: Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!

The Response: And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6 ESV).

The Call: Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia! Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!

The Response: “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! (Psalm 66:1-2 NIV).

Hymn: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” Words: Charles Wesley, 1739. Music: Lyra Davidica 1708 AN ADAPTATION BY REV. DR. MARIE M. PHILLIPS BRAXTON

Easter Sunday April
9, 2023

Aaron, Linda

Church School

Bola-Akinola, Pius

Trustee

Bolling, Yvonne

Steward

Botts, Carlos

Mighty Men of Metropolitan

Botts, Jonathan

Church School

Botts, Marsha Turner

SAMS. Love and Peace

Braxton, Marie Phillips

Minister

Bruce, Donna

Class Leader

Bryan, Dorothy

Circles of Twelve

Coleman, Jacqueline

Ambassadors

Coley-Flippin, Maurita

Daniel Alexander Payne CDC

Collins, Thedford

Steward, Pro Tem

Day, Marie

Trustee

Dugger, Wade

Steward Emeritus

Garcia, Celeste

Steward

Harris, Jocelyn

Trustee

Jefferson, Linda

Trustee

Johns, Marie

Pastor’s Steward

Jones, Barbara

Stewardess

Karimah, Aisha

Associate Minister/Anchors

CONTRIBUTORS

Yvonne L. Bolling, Christian Education Director

Marsha Botts, Editor

Evan Taylor, Layout Editor/Production

Kendrick, Greta

Steward/Usher

Kendrick, Leila

Life Member WMS

Lamar IV, William H.

Pastor

Legree, Geraldine

Pearl P.Cook Senior Citizens

McEntyre, Anntoinette

Girl Scouts

Oxendine, Joan

Steward Emeritus/Women’s Missionary Society

Prioleau, III, Elias

Steward

Robinson. Barbara

Ambassadors

Robinson, James

Steward Emeritus/Usher

Santos, Barbara

Friend of Metropolitan

Scott, Elsie

Steward Emeritus

Shands-Strong, Sandra

Pastor’s Study

Smoot, Betty

Church School

Vaughn, Gladys

Daniel A.Payne CDC

Wallace, Maria

Kelly Lay Organization

Watkins, Judith

Stewardess

Williams, Dana

Bethel 21 Historical Society

Wood, Barbara Booker

Friend of Metroolitan

Woody, Jacqueline

Friend of Metropolitan

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