Lenten Guide 2024

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LENT 2024


The Right Reverend James Levert Davis, Servant Bishop Reverend Dr. Jonathan L. Weaver, Presiding Elder Reverend William H. Lamar IV, Pastor

FOREWORD To God Be the Glory! Two Thousand Twenty-four--During the Christmas holidays, I was riding on the “A” train when I noticed a poster with a statement in these big bold letters: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE. Looking closer, underneath this in smaller font was the statement: It Is Not Unlimited. It was an ad for a law firm. I thought of the irony because the season of joy and celebration surrounding Christ’s birth was in full swing, yet the trials associated with Ash Wednesday and Lent were looming in just a few weeks. The suddenness of the arrival of Lent brought home the fact that our time is not unlimited. We are reminded by the “voices of our ancestors” included in this book. Jesus’ time on earth was not unlimited but, because of His crucifixion and resurrection, we are hopeful for a time when life is eternal. The reflections in this booklet represent the thoughts and aspirations of the members and friends of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church expressing what the season of Lent means to them. Their wide range of perspectives describe how this time of renewal, repentance and rejoicing has been and will be used to focus on Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection. The booklet is a component of the outreach ministry of the Commission on Christian Education. The compilation of scriptures, devotions, prayers and beliefs are testimonies of the writers’ desire to share a spiritual journey. We hope this will be an uplifting resource as you make the best use of your daily devotional time on your spiritual journey through this season of Lent and Easter. HE IS RISEN! May God Bless You. Yvonne L. Bolling Director, Commission on Christian Education

Ash Wednesday

WILL YOU LISTEN? Genesis 9: 8 – 17

The first Sunday of Lent’s Hebrew Bible passage thrusts us into the place where we again hear God’s voice. Let’s pause here. Church folk have grown so familiar with the language and thus the idea of God speaking that we hardly pay attention. This is wonderful! This is preposterous! Creator God talks? Like us? Oh, that we would hear God speak today as wars rage and ice caps melt and humans destroy and devour one another. I find myself thankful for the faint promise, the fragile hope that God who spoke then may still be speaking now. And God speaks to an imperfect family like the ones that shaped and formed us. God speaks to Noah and to Noah’s descendants. If God speaks, ordinary people like us are God’s conversation partners. And God does not have a human-centered vision, God’s speaks to ordinary Noah in hopes that Noah will not just secure a future for his progeny. God wants Noah to help secure a future for every creature of the earth. God’s concern is for all that God has made. And God makes a covenant of protection and promise with a common human family. This covenant is also for us, ordinary folk though we may be. God has kept God’s covenant. Many of us, however, have decided not to bother with caring for one another and for creation. If we keep refusing to uphold our part of the covenant, we will destroy ourselves, and that destruction will come quite soon. Yet, written into nature itself is a beautiful reminder that God speaks. The rainbow is our sublime reminder that God beckons us to keep our part of the bargain. We must protect and preserve life’s fragile possibilities for all creation with God. That is how we will thrive through this Lenten season and through all the days to come. Prayer: Mother/Father God, work with your people to look to the rainbow and keep the covenant. Amen. REVEREND WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV PASTOR METROPOLITAN A.M.E. CHURCH

February 15, 2024

BOLD VISION “So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness bordering the Red Sea…” Exodus 13:18 See this with me: a formerly enslaved people, who had the audacity to follow their leaders to fight a powerful force marked not by charity but by chariots, not by peace but by war. Somebody believed God wanted their people to be free. But not everyone believed. There were duals between the believers and the non-believers. War led the people to the edge of the sea. And amid this turmoil there were people who were determined to walk on water and seize a new day. I have been reminded in study and reflection that only the water walkers get to freedom. When the Red Sea stood up, the people determined to reach freedom were walking across water and as did Christ. Lent is as good a time as any to remember that Jesus’s birth allows us to be like him—to walk across water to get to freedom land. Our collective reflection during the season reminds us that water walking is not easy. But it is possible. When our mothers and our fathers experienced freedom without land, mule, or seed for the first time, they had to learn how to be a people beyond their bloodlines. If they were to thrive, their hopes and dreams had to be quilted into a patchwork of possibilities. God threads the needle, but we must stitch, or the blanket of freedom will not exist. It is not easy, but it is possible. During this season, let us work the stitches together to create the world intended by Jesus’s ministry and resurrection. Prayer: Lord, please guide our feet on this pilgrim’s journey. Amen.


February 16, 2024

WHAT IS LENT? “Then I turned to the Lord God to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord and my God and made confession…” Daniel 9: 3-4

Over the last few years as I prepared to write a message for Lent, I’ve wrestled with what Lent is and why we observe it. This year I decided to research and share with those who, like me, need a refresher. Lent is a time of solemn observance and preparation for the recognition of the death and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. From its beginning on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent is a time for fasting, giving up something or abstinence. Just as we prepare for special events in our personal lives, a commitment to Lent invites us to make our minds and hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Now that I’m refreshed, my prayer is that I live a life that by example will lead others to Christ. God sent his Son to show us the way. The least we can do is follow his example. I commit to serving God the best I can. Prayer: Heavenly parent, help me to do your will, in Jesus’ name I pray - Amen.


February 17, 2024

TRADITIONS OF LENT “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? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6-7

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for Easter. It is also a time of self-examination and reflection. Lenten traditions include: -

Fasting: Involves abstaining from food or drink for a certain period. Some choose to fast for the entire 40 days of Lent, while others fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.


Abstinence: Involves giving up certain foods or activities for the duration of Lent. Some give up meat on Fridays during Lent.


Prayer: Lent is a time for increased prayer and reflection. Some choose to attend daily Mass or participate in other spiritual practices.


Almsgiving: Involves giving to those in need. Some choose to donate money or volunteer their time during Lent.


Confession: This is a time for confession and reconciliation. Many people choose to go to confession during Lent as a way of preparing for Easter.

Prayer: Almighty God, Help us observe a Lent guided by components/traditions that are meaningful and enriching to us. Amen STEWARD ELIAS “PETE” PRIOLEAU, III SENIOR BOARD OF STEWARDS MIGHTY MEN OF METROPOLITAN

February 18, 2024

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven." Matthew 5:16 In December, we took stock of ourselves remembering that God so loved the world that he gave his son so that we could have everlasting life. We also gave gifts to ourselves, to friends, co-workers, strangers, the needy and others. But how serious were these gifts? How costly? Jesus dedicated his life to showing us the way and dying for our sins so that we can have everlasting life. During the Lenten season, we take inventory of a pledge to follow Jesus, being more Christ-like and letting his light shine through us. Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there is a cross for everyone and there is a cross for me. This cross we bear daily, if we want to be like Him and let our lights shine for him. During this season of Lent let us respond to these obstacles that hinder our way to everlasting life by giving love where there is hate, by giving joy where there is sorrow, educate where there is ignorance, provide food for the hungry, give hope where there is despair, water where there is thirst, light where there is darkness, smiles where there are frowns and model forgiveness for those who don’t know how. Let us follow the example Jesus demonstrated in his brief time with us and respond to His request to let our light shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that Thy word will be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Amen DEACONESS MONTA JONES TAYLOR (Deceased)** **LENT 2014

February 19, 2024

MENDING THE FABRIC OF FAITH IN OUR HEARTS “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.” Joel 2:12-13

Whether a broad smudge or a distinct cross, I welcome receiving ashes across my forehead on Ash Wednesday to mark my mortality as the dust that my flesh will become after it is returned to the earth. This ancient sign of mourning, along with wearing and tearing sackcloth, has evolved into ceremonies of ash where grief embodies repentance, and God calls us to make it not a vanity to showcase righteousness. The traditional public rending of clothing sewn from course goat’s hair reflects for me the rough fabric of our lives that breaks our spirit’s humility. Within the essence of Lent, we mend our hearts, restore our faith, and deepen our connection to God. How we elevate these roots of sacred love in our lives through our Lenten practices will hold distinction this year because Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day and its commercialization of love. I grew up amplifying the Lenten practice of almsgiving, following my mother’s example. For the first time this year, three generations will travel to our Caribbean ancestral home to help my mother with her Lenten “cookup.” For a week, she prepares dinner and, in the front courtyard of my grandmother’s home, serves the hungry who gather from parishes across the island. This service to our community is a reminder that Lent honors the 40-day period Jesus prepared for his public ministry of breaking oppressive yokes and making humanity whole. Prayer: Compassionate God, mend our spirits and kindle renewed faith from the ashes within our lives as we return our hearts to you. Amen.


February 20, 2024

TRANSFORMATION Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. 2 Corinthians 9: 7 Previously, I have spent many years dreading the Lenten season because I was following instructions regarding my relationship with God. I followed the prescribed orders from my mother and church leaders for collective fasting, scheduled prayer times, no eating this or that, and turning off the television. The list went on and on. Although I felt obligated to observe Lent, I would rarely make it through the entire 40 days of keeping the assigned rules. “Something” had to give. Lent felt like torture and that was not working for me. After praying for guidance, I began to observe Lent by spending alone time with God. I walked by the ocean, meditated during sunrise, and most importantly I surrendered to the will of God for “my Lent.” Once I surrendered to “my Lent,” a transformation occurred. I realized that Lent is a season to get nearer to God. I now observe the entire 40 days of Lent; clearly ready because I know it is the path to transformation for me!

Prayer: Lord, please help us to get closer to you as we observe this the season of Lent. May we be transformed with a renewed mind and heart to love you more. Asé


February 21, 2024

LENT 2024 “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.” Psalm 116:1

As we can observe the Advent season in our rear-view mirror, we look forward to the season of Lent and Resurrection Sunday with much anticipation. I find my two favorite hymns, “When Peace, Like a River” and “How Great Thou Art,” bring an abundance of joy to my soul: •

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul. It is well...

And when I think, his Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on that cross, my burden gladly bearing , He bled and died, to take away my sins. Then sings my soul…

Prayer: God, our Father, hear my voice. Amen. BROTHER JAMES F. ROBINSON STEWARD EMERITUS

February 22, 2024

PROMISES KEPT We brace ourselves for the Lenten season. There is a certain dread to it. The theme is sacrifice. We choose to give things up, to fast, to spend more time on our knees. The bright lilies of Easter seem terribly far away. But I am reconsidering the notion of Lenten sacrifice this year, focusing on promises kept instead. God promised to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, and then to save them from themselves. He kept the promise. He promised to send us a savior, Christ The Lord, to save us once again -- from our disbelief and our worst, most unfaithful instincts. He told us he would do this -- in the Old Testament. By sending Jesus, he kept the promise. In our contemporary lives, he keeps promises every day. The promise of a sunrise. The promise of overcoming grief and loss. The promise of a child's smile. The promise of grace. And the promise of resurrection. It's that last kept promise that we focus on during the Lenten season. A well-meaning friend got in touch recently to let me know she was thinking of me on the first anniversary of my brother's death. I was startled by the condolence, I realized, because I have come to focus less on his loss and more on his life. Celebrate birthdays, yes, but not the day of death. Life is a promise kept. Forgiveness is a promise kept. God keeps his promises to me every day. In return, He asks that I keep a few as well -- to live in his word and act on his purpose. Surely we must acknowledge the betrayal of Judas and the hypocrisy of those who waved palms and then watched Jesus crucified. That is necessary. But it is also essential that we pitch forward toward that moment of astonishment when Jesus demonstrated to the women at the tomb that he had kept his ultimate promise to them -- and to us -- and risen again. If any one of us can keep a fraction of the promises to one another that Jesus keeps to us every day, we will be so much closer to keeping our promise to him. On my weariest days, this is my favorite promise: "But they that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." -- Isaiah 40:31 SISTER GWEN IFILL (Deceased)** MEMBER **LENT 2014

February 23, 2024

HE AROSE FOR US ”And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and

was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

In a few weeks, we go from joy and great anticipation to sorrow and downheartedness: such is the range of emotions that we often experience from Christmas to Easter. However, as Disciples of Christ, we know that his death and resurrection was scripted as the divine plan of God. As we reflect in the emotions of this period, we bear witness and remain anchored to the purpose of his birth and death. The savior’s death was the ultimate act of God’s unfathomable love for us. Because Christ arose for us, hope and joy remain inseparable. Because he arose, we have true sacrificial love displayed for all to see and available to all those who believe that he died and arose. Because he died and was resurrected, we live and have a greater understanding of his love for us and remember that the tomb that they thought would seal his life and purpose is indeed empty. Hallelujah, he arose and the gates of heaven are open to all who trust and believe. Prayer: Father, you raised Christ from the grave that we might have life eternal. May the glory of our Savior shine upon us with love, peace and strength, no longer fearing sin or death. In Jesus name, we give thanks for the life eternal. Amen


February 24, 2024

A PEACEFUL SPIRIT “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43:18-19

This new year began with a wrestling in my spirit. As I contemplate what I might to do to fix the particular situation surrounding my restless spirit, The word of God provides both remedy and respite. Always, it is in reading, hearing, and meditating on scripture I find exactly whatever is needed. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s promise of victory in the struggle, of letting go when we’ve held on too long, in frustration, confusion, disappointment or uncertainty. It is the Lord who clears the view or way, releases and keeps us from stumbling on that which can easily block our blessings. He shows us a new path and by His merciful power we can release any burden. As we embrace this beautiful, peaceful Lenten season, let us seek moments to encourage our hearts and spirits, reminding us all things in Christ are made new. Prayer: Dear Lord, hear our prayer, create in each of us a clean heart and renew a right spirit. Allow your Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct the mediations of our minds and hearts daily. Thank you. Amen.


February 25, 2024

THE IMAGE OF JESUS “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by the power of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3

Many years ago, when my cousin was pregnant with twins, she texted two sonograms to our family. We were very excited; messages circulated with possible names. I looked at the first photo and quickly saw his features, but as I studied the second image, I had no such luck. After about a minute I realized the baby boy resembled his father. It was hard for me to see the second image, but it was always there. Just as I had trouble seeing that image, I often don't see Jesus in everyone. I may focus on someone's negative traits instead of concentrating on positive qualities. Quite honestly, I sometimes don't resemble Jesus. God made us in His image. His only Son Jesus is His mirror image too. Jesus was crucified and rose on the third day. His time on earth allowed Him to understand life as a mortal human. Regardless of what we see, we carry Jesus's image because we are His creation. Just like that sonogram, I may have to look a little harder to see Jesus in everyone, but He's there. Lent is a time of fasting, prayer, and reflection in preparation for the Christ’s resurrection. If we could look at everyone as though we are seeing Jesus, it would change our image of people. It would help us see a mirror image of Jesus. Prayer: Almighty God, let me see the mirror image of Jesus in everyone I encounter this Lenten season. Amen. SISTER JUDITH WATKINS STEWARDESS

February 26, 2024

“WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?” “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son...” John 3:16

I believe that LOVE has everything to do with how we live our lives. Tina Turner made this song a hit as well as the movie. As I think about the season of Lent, it is about LOVE. God loved us so much that He sent His son, Jesus, to earth that we would live life more abundantly. We were lost in darkness, but through Jesus’ teachings of love and redemption, we were given a light to show us the way to eternal life. In today’s chaotic world, we need “LOVE;” (self-love and love for others). It is not an easy task, but through prayer and studying His Word, we can learn to LOVE. I believe that LOVE has everything to do with how we live our lives. Remember, GOD IS LOVE and HE LOVES US. Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you sent your son, Jesus to teach us how to love. Amen


February 27, 2024

LOVE DEMONSTRATED “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 I can recall few scriptures that point to Jesus receiving love during his ministry. When preparing his followers for his impending death, he demonstrated how they should treat each other in love and relate to those persons who they hoped to attract to “the way.” But how often did he receive love. His loving and very concerned parents “lost” the pre-teen Jesus as they travelled and he returned to the temple for tutoring and teaching. Mary of Magdala cleansed his tired, soiled feet with an expensive perfume and dried his feet with her hair. She was chastised by the apostles for her charity. The Love & Peace Unit of SAMS suffered an unexpected death last spring when Sister Verna Brogden transitioned. Her death “shook us” and has been followed by daily exhibitions of love among members. Each day you can depend on one of the sisters initiating a texting chain of affirmations; causing cell phones to “ping” with agreement or a follow-up message. Modern technology has made it possible for us to check-in and deliver “love notes” even when we do not call or visit. In sharing these notes, we include Jesus in the fold; remembering to keep the love flowing until we, too, meet our maker. Prayer: Heavenly Parent, you have set the example. Help us to be steadfast followers. Amen.


February 28, 2024

PUTTING GOD FIRST “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 One of my favorite hymns is “My Hope is Built.” My hope is built on nothing less; Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame; But wholly lean on Jesus’ name; On Christ the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand. During this season of Lent, I will be reflecting on that song. I am grateful that I was brought up in a family that put God first. Regardless of what we were going through, we leaned on that song. We had faith in God. The last verse of that hymn puts everything in perspective. When He shall come with trumpet sound; Oh, may I then in Him be found; Dressed in his righteousness alone; Faultless to stand before the throne; On Christ the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand. Prayer: God help us to never forget that your Son died so we might live. Amen. SISTER ATHELIA KNIGHT MEMBER

February 29, 2024

LEGACY OF LOVE “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 Each year as Lent arrives, my thoughts gravitate toward the notion of sacrifice. This year I am reflecting on my ancestors’ collective and individual sacrifices for me in ways I hadn’t previously. Semi-annual dental appointments; post-secondary degrees; Nike Cortez sneakers and patent leather shoes; a bedroom of my own; voting in every presidential election since age 18 – these things were my reality because my parents and grandparents and others whose names I do not know took action to benefit me. I grew up taking these privileges for granted although my mom wore the same outfits year after year while I sashayed around in my new school clothes; listened to stories about my parents’ and their compatriots’ arrests and beatings and incarcerations during the 1960s; knowingly entered into predominantly white spaces through doors that my forebears pushed open without crossing the thresholds. Their actions are the essence of selflessness, a quality not often celebrated in today’s hyper-individualized, self-obsessed culture. Acknowledging sacrifices made by previous generations enriches my Lenten journey. While human sacrifices pale in comparison to Christ’s, they offer a glimpse into the enormity of love-driven sacrifice. Reflecting on what other people have endured and surrendered for me, I come to a deeper appreciation of Jesus’ unparalleled sacrifice on the cross. Prayer: Gracious God, in this Lenten season, we come grateful for who we are and whose we are. Thank you for the love woven into each sacrificial action of parents, pioneers, and protesters. Help us grasp the depth of these generous acts, thereby, growing in our understanding of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Guide us to embody such selflessness in our own lives, reflecting Your boundless love. Amen. SISTER SIDRA SMITH-GARNER UNITED VOICES

March 1, 2024

GOD IS MY REFUGE AND MY SALVATION “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I have often pondered on the cover God provides in times of strife and despair. I have experienced many difficulties in my life and have questioned if God has really been there for me or why was I put in such a position of suffering, sorrow or doubt. Those moments have been with me since childhood. Now as I have entered my seventies, I reflect on God's sacrifice and protection and I ask how could I question Him. Hasn't he always been the faithful one to me? Has my sacrifice matched his love and guidance, his care and his provisions for me? Have I ever been hungry, homeless, without needs or wants met? God has always been the rock to stand on, the rope to hold on to, the map to steady my course, but have I sacrificed enough for HIM? Do I have the right to ask “why?” I have found through my faith, that HE is there and has always led me to safe harbor. I have learned to trust and BELIEVE without question that ALL that I have endured and have yet to experience is HIS doing to keep me close, humble, and mindful of HIS sacrifice for me. Without question or hesitation, HE gave HIS all; so should I. Prayer: Heavenly Parent, thank you for resolving my unbelief. When my human frailty succumbs to doubt and question, I look to you once again. Amen.


March 2, 2024

LENTEN DEVOTIONAL “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” Psalm 1:1-3 It is very true to say that Jesus came down to earth to die for the sins of humanity; but it is infinitely TRUER to say that Jesus came down from heaven to die for the sins of each one of us individually, because He would have done so had we been the only person on earth. Prayer: God, as we go into the Lenten season, bless us with Clarity, Harmony, and Balance. Amen, Amen, Amen.


March 3, 2024

TOO COOL! “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3: 15 – 16 (NRSVUE) As a boy growing up in Chocolate City, it was important for us ‘boys to men’ to appear ‘cool’ in all situations. It was drummed into us that Boys Don't Cry. The poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, in “We Real Cool,” emphasized that living too cool doesn’t necessarily end well. We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. I am so grateful for “Fathers of the Church,” who shared their consistent, fiery faith, propelled me from the pew to active ministry. Brothers David Green, Herbert Smith, Isiah Dupree, Alfred Spicer, Leon Jones, James Ealey, and Danny Hodge (just to name a few) shared their minds, bodies, and souls. Luke 22: 44 records that Jesus was emotional in the Garden of Gethsemane: “in His anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down on the ground.“ Mark 14: 33-34 records that Jesus “began to be distressed and agitated” and said, “…I am grieved….” Prayer: Jesus, we cannot repay you for the blood and tears that you have shed. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can passionately share and live out your Passion story in our public and private lives. You weep when we weep; we cry when our brothers and sisters cry. Amen BROTHER CARLOS E. BOTTS MIGHTY MEN OF METROPOLITAN

March 4, 2024

IN HIS HANDS “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:4 I was talking to a fellow church sister recently when she referenced Jeremiah 18. I was moved to read the entire chapter and Verse 4 truly settled in my spirit. In thinking about my Lenten meditation and what was in my heart to share, the passage reinforced the very personal nature of our relationship with our Lord and Savior. As with Jeremiah, our God knows us before He forms us in our mothers’ wombs. He continues to shape us throughout our lives, correcting the marred places and reshaping them and us into something, someone better. I think of the condition of our world, communities, families and lives. All are marred in myriad ways. Nations warring, communities fractured, families unstable, individuals unmoored … all indications of a world that seemingly has forgotten the source of our strength, direction and purpose. During this Holy Season, my prayer is that we reflect on why Christ died on a rugged cross. He died to save our sin sick world. Surrendering to the Potter’s wheel, will and design for our lives is our only hope for creating a world that is pleasing in our Creator’s sight. Thank you, Anita. Prayer: Father/Mother God, thank you for your infinite blessings in my life. I know that only in your hands will I be a vessel for your glory. Please continue to shape my marred being. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. STEWARD MARIE C. JOHNS PASTOR’S STEWARD

March 5, 2024

USING YOUR DECISION WISELY “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5 (NIV)

It is quite intriguing that the word “decision” occurs 288 times in the Basic English Bible. I found it very fascinating how many decisions we contemplate. We decide where we live, work, play, study, raise children, educate, who we date, what we eat, where to worship, who to vote for, where to retire, where to be buried... Throughout life, making sound decisions is critical to our existence. Research on the web shows that decision-making includes making a judgment about an attitude or action. Decisions are an act of the will; influenced by the mind, the emotions, or both. The decisions we make reflect the desires of our hearts (Psalm 119:30). Therefore, a key consideration is “Do I choose to please myself OR to please the Lord?” Joshua set the standard: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15; cf. Romans 12:2). “He Decided to Die,” by Rev. James Cleveland, says it all: “He would not come down from the cross to save himself. He decided to die to save me,” the ultimate decision to stay on the cross and die for me and you. What an incredible sacrifice!

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for staying on the Cross though You had the power to walk away, fly away, or even lift into the clouds. Your presence and death on the Cross cleansed our sins; making a huge difference for mankind. Amen


March 6, 2024

MOVE BEYOND YOUR MISTAKES “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2

Mistakes can motivate you to do something new, to grow and build the confidence and endurance to keep going. When you embrace your failures and see them as stumbling blocks that you have overcome, you learn to make choices that boldly face the discomfort of growth. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. It is a time for fasting, personal reflections, a time for meditation and perhaps a time to commit to daily journaling. This provides you with the opportunity to understand and personally and privately acknowledge who you are, your beliefs and how they currently impact your response to others. This is a time to think about who you are, versus who you want to be, how to let go of negativity/guilt, and instead focus on, how to be more empathetic, more supportive, more giving and ways to become the person you strive to be.

Prayer: Dear Lord, guide me with your strength and wisdom. Help me see the grace and mercy that comes from moving beyond my missteps. Amen.


March 7, 2024

TO BE REAL “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

We often ascribe to the idiom: “fake it until you make it.” We may learn to appear as having attained our social status or our educational rank, etc. before the work has been done. On the one hand, there is a logic to presenting oneself favorably so that opportunities will not pass you by. You may tell your employer that you are proficient in a particular area, so that a significant project is assigned to you, thereby increasing your income. However, the excesses of this cultural “virtue” are all too evident if we observe our community and examine ourselves. We have terrible spending habits and accrue debt from a lifestyle of faking it until we have made it. We are social media rich and self-esteem poor from a habit of faking it before we have made it. Our sense of self becomes distorted and we gain influence and prestige while being spiritually destitute. Our beloved Creator calls us to “stop fakin’.” Indeed, it is good news that there is one for whom we do not have to embellish our resumé. For the promotion we seek is not awarded for being anyone other than our authentic selves. In this time of truth and humility, the real work can be done to ensure that when preparation and opportunity are aligned, we will be exalted. Prayer: Heavenly Parent, we are elated that you love your flawed people. We present ourselves with our deeds and misdeeds. We pray that in this vulnerable space you shine a light within us so that we may do the work and in turn, shine outwardly for you. Amen.


March 8, 2024

MY LENTEN PRAYER Lord, I am in the process of fulfilling Your will. I’m available to You today. Please empower me with Your Holy Spirit because I want to glorify Your name. I belong to You and I pledge my allegiance to You today. Enable me to walk so that I have discernment - so that I will obey rather than disobey. Keep me strong when temptations come. Guard my tongue from saying the wrong things or saying too much or speaking too quickly. Enable me to restrain outbursts of anger. Lord, help me in my faith walk. Enable me to live out the authentic Christ life today. I seek to stay on speaking terms with You. I seek to be used by You. I seek to serve You and always be of service to You through others. Amen.


March 9, 2024

WHAT TIME IS IT? “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of the water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same work the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3: 3-8

So, what shall we say about the second coming of the Lord. “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God.” 2 Peter 3: 11b-12. “Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless.” 2 Peter 3:14 “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13

Prayer: Dear God, help us to do the right thing in all that we do. Let us be peace makers and bring joy to our fellow citizens. Help us to be examples of Christ. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.


March 10, 2024

SPEAK TO YOUR MOUNTAINS "So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt...if you say to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," it will be done.'" Matthew 21:21, NKJV We've all had seasons when the challenges of life feel overwhelming. During those times, it's easy to be tempted to talk about how bad things are. Maybe you received a bad medical report, or maybe you're facing a financial obstacle. The more you talk about something, the bigger it becomes in your mind. Instead, you've got to dig your heels in and say, "No, I am not going to give life to that defeat. I am not going to speak sickness over myself. I'm not going to speak lack. I'm not going to speak fear. I'm choosing a different report. I believe the report of the Lord which says that I am blessed. I am favored. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am whole. I'm a victor, not a victim." Remember, even if you don't see how things could ever work out, God does. You've got to speak to those mountains in your life and declare favor over those situations. Instead of talking to God about how big your problems are, talk to your problems about how big your God is! As you speak to your mountains, they will be moved, and you will move forward into the victory God has prepared for you! Prayer: "Father, thank You for Your Word which is life to my spirit. I receive Your strength today and choose to speak to the mountains so I can move forward in the victory You have in store for me in Jesus' name. Amen." SISTER VERNA BROGDEN (Deceased)** LOVE AND PEACE **LENT 2017

March 11, 2024

HEAR MY PRAYER, O LORD “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6: 6

Lord, during this season of Lent, allow my focus to be directed towards you more than ever before. In a world of distractions, I need to silence the noise. In a world that exudes hate, I need to sit in the stillness of your love. During this time, I pray that I am more in tune with your voice than ever before. Please allow me to be consumed in your word, read books that stimulate my theological imagination, and be in community with those that help to sharpen me to be a version of your image. During this time, Lord, allow me to be more sensitized to the needs of others rather than overconsumed in my own selfish ambitions. Give me the determination to cleanse myself, holistically, so that I am positioning myself to live longer to live out the purpose you have called me to. Send persons to my life that will pour directly into me spiritually and not extract from me mentally. Allow those conversations to challenge me to not remain in a stature of comfort or complacency in my life. Thank you for the unwavering affection that you show me daily. Lord, thank you for the ability to reset and reprioritize who and what is important along this journey of life. May the end of this Lenten season produce an empty vessel that yearns more for your presence each day. In the Name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for hearing my heart. Amen REVEREND THOMAS A. BRACKEEN, JR. MINISTER TO FAMILIES AND YOUTH

March 12, 2024

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances..." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Thanks to my mom, who taught me to pray when I was very young, I’ve been praying all my life. She’d say, when you pray, thank the Lord for everything. Prayer is my holy ghost filled superpower. It doesn’t mean I’m living high on the hog and problem free. Like yours, my life has ups and downs, highs and lows, splinters and stumbling blocks, all of which gives me reasons to pray. Truth is, none of us can hide from the Lord. Jesus knows and sees everything. There are no secrets from the Lord. Nevertheless, when I pray, I tell Jesus all about my daily highs and lows. I recount everything and ask for forgiveness. And after all these years, prayer continues to make a difference in my life. It’s a relief to have a little talk with Jesus. The songwriter says, Jesus will hear our faintest cry and answer by and by. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. The Lord does hear us and will answer. The stillness of meditation and contemplative prayer opens my spiritual ear to what the Spirit of the Lord is speaking to me. Please accept my invitation to use these 40 days of Lent to pray. It’s the perfect time for us to pray for the safety and security of our children, everywhere. Let’s agree to pray as we move through these 40 days leading us to Calvary on Good Friday. Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your patient, listening ear. Amen. REVEREND AISHA KARIMAH ASSOCIATE MINISTER NEW MEMBERS ANCHORS

March 13, 2024

A PRAYER FOR THE BEWILDERED “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good..” Romans 12:9 Creator God, The one who has many names, The one who has met our ancestors in their bewilderment, We come to you asking for guidance, Throughout the wilderness moments, seasons, and years of our lives, For the moments filled with ambiguity and dis-ease, For the spaces that bring us pain and discomfort, and experiences that leave us anxious and afraid, For the pervasive and unending wars, violence, and traumas, For the unknown, nonsensical, and mysterious, We come asking for water in dry places, abundance in scarce situations, for care in careless spaces, for clarity amid the fog, for clean air amid the smoke, for peace amid the bloodshed, We come asking for your presence, Even when we are yet to perceive it, Through the tests, trials, and tribulations, Help us to be stewards of your word, Through the dangers, storms, and snares, Help us to be cultivators of peace, Through the solitude, seclusion, and separation, Help us to seek reciprocal relationship, Through destruction, devastation, and desolation, Help us to discern our role in restoration, Through our disconnected relationship with creation, Help us pursue reconciliation, Make the invisible visible to us, Be present with us in wilderness and bewilderment, Prepare us for the work you have for us, Teach us to pray and rest, Renew, refresh, and refill us, Show us your divine revelation, Holy Spirit, fall fresh on us, In the matchless power of Jesus, we pray, Amen and Ase. Prayer: Heavenly Parent, incline your ear to us and grant us thy peace. Amen.


March 14, 2024

THE PRAYERS OF A BELIEVER “You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge”. Psalm 119: 65-66

Back home in Louisiana, we had a big Bible on the lectern in the pulpit at our church. Sometimes my father, the pastor, would flip open the Bible and read a verse from what ever page came open. He said that was the message that God was giving him. As I prepared my Lenten meditation, I decided to flip open a Bible to see what message I may need to deliver. I found myself at Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, and some say, the middle chapter of the book. I chose verses 65-66. Many Christians can recite the commandments and brag about how they believe in the commandments. But is it enough to recite them verbatim from whatever version of the Bible we prefer? We can believe in the commandments given to us by God, but we have to be taught to understand them. We must know how to apply them in our everyday lives. Prayer: Lord, I have studied your commandments, and I believe in them, but I need to know how to practically apply them to everyday situations. When I am faced with challenges, I pray for the ability of discernment. I pray for the gift to make the right interpretations and applications of the commandments every day.


March 15, 2024

BRING BEAUTY FROM ASHES “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11

During Lent, we are reminded of our difficulties and struggles. Sometimes the way has seemed too dark. Sometimes we feel like our lives have been marked by such grief and pain, that we don’t see how our circumstances can ever change. But amid our weakness, we ask that you be strong on our behalf. Lord, rise up within us;let your Spirit shine out of every broken place we have walked through. Allow your power to be manifest through our weakness, so that others will recognize that it is You who is at work on our behalf. We ask to trade the ashes of our lives for the beauty of your presence. Trade our mourning and grief for the oil of joy and gladness from your Spirit. Please trade our despair for hope and praise. We choose to give you thanks today and believe that this season of darkness will fade. Thank you for being with us in whatever we face and for being greater than this trial. We know and recognize that you are Sovereign. We thank you for the victory that is ours because of Christ Jesus. We are confident that you have good still in store for our future. Prayer: We thank you that you are at work right now, trading our ashes for greater beauty. We praise you for making all things new. In Jesus’ Name, amen. REVEREND GEOFFREY E. TATE, SR. MINISTER TO SENIORS MINISTER TO GRIEF SHARE

March 16, 2024

PRAISE TO GOD “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

In my recent devotional time, I came across an article that spoke about praising God. The Bible speaks often that it pays to praise God. But sometimes, we allow ourselves to become so preoccupied with the demands of daily life that we forget to say “Thank You” to the one who is the giver of all good gifts. Worship and praise should be a part of everything we do. We quickly lose perspective as we fall prey to demands of the moment. If we truly desire to be worthy servants of the one who has given us eternal love and eternal life; then we should praise him for who he is and for what he has done for us. Praise him all day long, every day, for as long as we live.

Prayer: Lord let us continually offer you sacrifices of praise, the fruit of lips that confess Your name. Amen


March 17, 2024

GROWTH AS I JOURNEY “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2: 4-5 Traveling on this earthly journey, blessed by God, now to have reached my “senior years,” I am so grateful for my faith, family and friends. Faith lets me know that His grace and mercy are with me as I travel on my journey; I am never alone. My wonderful family, God chose for me, is always present showing love and care. My many friends, from childhood and beyond, are invaluable and their support and encouragement are felt in my triumphs and challenges. This Lenten season, I am reflecting on the hymns of praise that let us sing unto the Lord who endured the cross and grave to redeem and save us. The older I become, listening to the hymns deeply touches my inward emotions, providing assurance of Calvary One very special hymn that uplifts me, stirs my soul and sometimes causes me to cry is simply titled, “At Calvary.” You can find all the verses online or in a hymnal. I have included only the first verse: Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died, on Calvary, Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary. . Prayer: Dear Jesus, I praise and thank you for loving me enough to suffer, die and rise for me. Amen. SISTER BARBARA BOOKER WOOD FRIEND OF METROPOLITAN

March 18, 2024

FORGIVE AND LOVE “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” Luke 11:4 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:35

I rarely watch the news lately because I find it very disturbing. It jars my sanity because I believe that there are strong forces trying to force the world to believe what is taking place is necessary. Nothing will change until we understand forgiveness and love. During the Lenten season we fast, meditate and pray to thank God for forgiving our sins by sacrificing his one and only son. We know He did this because He loves us. We should thank and praise him and extend the same love and forgiveness to others that he has extended to us. Prayer: Our Father, Thank you for every morning that we are allowed to awaken to praise and thank you for another day. Thank you for showing us what love, forgiveness, and grace look like. Thank you for Jesus. Amen!


March 19, 2024

LEANING INTO JUSTICE DURING LENT “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?” Isaiah 58:6 When I was a kid, my mom insisted that we give up something during Lent. Candy? Ice Cream? In my case, since I’m not into sweets, I was encouraged to give up purchasing books. That hurt. Sometimes Mom would suggest that we give up certain behavior. Lying. Cursing (that didn’t work for me). Fast forward. Most years I do an economic fast, purchasing only necessities. No magazines or books, except for my research. No new clothes or fripperies. I also put myself on a strict food budget of $50 a week, which means I can’t eat out (though you can treat me). Isaiah encourages another kind of fast, a more meaningful fast than giving up food or shopping. He asks that we fast toward justice, lean into justice, loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free. How must we do that? What actions must we take for social and economic justice? What can we do each day to lean into justice? Join a protest action? Participate in a justice ministry? Write a letter to a legislator? A couple dollars to a panhandler? A larger contribution to a worthy cause? Isaiah challenges us to lean into justice. How will you lean into justice during Lent? Prayer: Holy Parent, help us to give up and lean in. Help us to work for justice every day, but especially during this Lenten season. We appreciate you and adore you for our inspiration. Amen.


March 20, 2024

CRUCIFIXION REFRAMED “But they will do all of these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” John 15: 21 The Lenten season is a time when we pause and reflect upon Jesus the Christ on his journey to the Cross of Calvary. Often, we focus on and frame the death of Christ as a sacrificial offering made by Jesus. However, because of the ongoing attempt at genocide of the Palestinian people, the culture of Jesus’ descendants, we must focus on the real implications of what Jesus’ journey and death reveals for us and the world. In our own context, the assassination of Jesus mirrors that of Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin. It reveals the lengths evil will go to silence the truth and the spirit of the people. It reveals how voices of hope and progress, love, and justice, are often at odds with the status quo and the cultural elite. Nevertheless, it is in this time leading up to the crucifixion that we ought to sit with what we’re up against. From there, we must make the decision to journey on despite hatred, dysfunction, and even death. We press on knowing that God hears us, sees, and will transform our experience into something far more impactful than temporary physical death. Prayer: God of our weary years and silent tears, help us to stand in solidarity with the downtrodden, the forsaken, and the annihilated. Aide us in our efforts for freedom and justice. Allow us to come to resolute spirit, so much so that no matter what we’re facing, by speaking up and out we realize that it is better to live free than die in bondage. In Jesus our Liberator’s name, we pray, Amen and Asé.


March 21, 2024

REQUIREMENTS “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:7 When we are not hungry for justice and equality, it often means we are lulled into complacency and miss the opportunity to ask ourselves if we are in alignment with God’s will for us. We live in a time that requires courage and sacrifice to protect our families, communities, and country. This means that we must become used to being uncomfortable; we must shed the thinking that we are too tired or too busy to do what needs to be done. Are we looking inward and checking our alignment with God? Are we willing to sacrifice our time and our comfort today to make tomorrow better? Reflect on this thought: If any of us has ever wondered what we would have done during slavery, during the holocaust, or the civil rights movement, you are doing it right now. Christ’s path through the days leading to His ultimate sacrifice was speaking the truth of His and our lived experiences in a fearful world – sacrificing today to make tomorrow better. His life, as well as his sacrifice, was in the practical, everyday activities as well as his submission to God’s law. Prayer: Holy Parent, bless us in this season where sacrifice and challenge are required. I pray our actions are aligned with your will for us. BROTHER BRYON L. GARNER, Ph.D. VETERANS COUNCIL

March 22, 2024

NO FEAR, JUST FAITH “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

As I approach this Lenten season on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I reflect on my journey and God’s purpose for me. I am greatly blessed. I have lived a life that is the result of a loving and forgiving God. When Jesus offered the disciples’ authority and commanded them to go and minister, He said: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Basically, don’t fear man, fear God. The reality is if we have already died with Christ and are focused on eternity; nothing man can do to us matters. We are still fighting as we fervently pray, strategically serve, and diligently work on injustices that exclude people created in the image of God. My purpose is to assist with this fight, to be an advocate and activist for others through Christ. We serve a God who is fair and just. The world is not fair, but we must be fearless! It is not easy but with God, all things are possible. May we not fear what can happen to us because we know Jesus conquered death and holds our lives in his hands. Prayer: Abba God, thank you for your strength that we receive through the life of Jesus. Give us divine boldness to say something when we see injustices in our communities. Allow us to be fearless in our daily walk and live for others as You have our soul in Your hands! Amen. SISTER TORI COLLINS NEW MEMBER

March 23, 2024

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER: TROUBLE DOESN’T ALWAYS LAST! “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 In times of growth, we find ourselves, in a cycle of “life-ing.” You know those situations, that move from, “I can manage,” “I’m reaching out for help,” “How did this get so bad,” “Well it could be worse”….and it does. The issue makes you feel isolated and alone. The overwhelming fear that creeps into one's soul is unmistakable. However, with time we gain perspective and understanding. What are you going to do to change the situation? You have seen this story before. This time you are being allowed to see it differently. How will you dust yourself off this time? It does not look like what you imagined, but you often see small glimpses of “Wow.” As we embrace and dust ourselves off within the valley, we also can look up and see the hill. I pray that we embrace this awareness, listen to the thoughts on the journey and exit as a different person. Awareness from this lesson is a gift. Put on the whole armor of God. Give yourself time, to sit back, be still and learn. They have no idea what you have gone through, they don’t need to know…God does. Who got you to this point? God did. As you start each day, remember “help me Holy Ghost.” Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray Ephesians 6: 11 that [we will] be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power; put[ting] on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Amen SISTER ANNTOINETTE L. MCENTYRE GIRL SCOUT TROOP LEADER

March 24, 2023

RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE ‘But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:6-7 NKJV I am a “Trekkie” and particularly fond of “Star Trek: Next Generation. In this series, the captain and the crew are pursued by the Borg species whose only mission is to acquire knowledge by assimilating the various species they encounter and adding them to their general body of beings. They are relentless in their pursuit and warn those who they encounter that they will be assimilated as “resistance was futile.” The book of James offers weapons against the adversary. Like the Borg, the devil relentlessly pursues destruction of our relationship with God; uses every avenue to distract us from the relationship. We must fight valiantly. Scripture identifies three weapons against the devil: humility, submission, and resistance. We must humble ourselves to God, submit to God’s direction, and resist the devil with the knowledge of the Scriptures. In Matthew 4:1-11, when at his weakest and tempted by the devil, Jesus used the scriptures and the first two tools to resist the devil. The devil fled. But the scriptures give us the ultimate payoff. If we utilize humility, submission to God and resistance, the devil will flee from us. Think it through the next time you are challenged or tempted by the devil. Are you using the tools God has supplied to defeat your adversary? By humbling yourself and submitting to God, you will be able to resist the wiles of the devil and watch the devil run for the hills. Resistance is not futile! Prayer: Almighty God, help us to resist the devil! Amen BROTHER WADE DUGGER STEWARD EMERITUS

March 25, 2024

THE LORD WILL BEAR MY SPIRIT HOME And I will put my Spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Ezekiel 36:27 I guess it is the recent loss of my brother that has me reflecting on my childhood. During the Lenten season, I remember singing in the Children’s Choir at my daddy’s church, Bethel AME Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Every Easter, the children would sing: They crucified my Savior and nailed Him to the cross, They crucified my Savior and nailed Him to the cross, They crucified my Savior and nailed Him to the cross, And the Lord will bear my spirit home. He ‘rose, He ‘rose, He ‘rose from the dead, He ‘rose, He ‘rose, He ‘rose from the dead, He ‘rose, He ‘rose, He ‘rose from the dead, And the Lord shall bear my spirit home. As children, we were taught to sing this song with all that was in us, and we did. However, I’m sure we had no idea what was meant by the Lord shall bear my spirit home. Of course, as adults we know that this phrase is basically a prayer asking the Lord, after our physical death here on earth, to take our spirit home to be with Him. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides us with the hope and reassurance that there is life after death with Him in heaven.

Prayer: Lord, let me never forget that You were crucified, dead and buried; but You arose from the dead to bear my spirit home Amen. SISTER ELLEN YOUNG FIZER STEWARD EMERITUS PEARL P. COOK SENIOR CITIZENS CLUB

March 26, 2024

DYING TO LIVE AGAIN “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under the heaven.”- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Nobody beats death. It is believed that if death occurs later in life, there is comfort and peace in knowing that it is the natural order. When this cycle happens out of order it can lead to despair, with the greater sense of loss. I experienced deep loss in 2022 when my earthly father transitioned to eternal rest. I had to come to terms with my own dying; the loss, but also the passing of my childhood groundings. I had to let go to live again. Even though we grieve at the loss of our loved ones, we live again in hope through the resurrection of Jesus and His promise of life after death. The hope of a heavenly reunion is powerful indeed. Our trust in Christ and his gift of salvation gives us hope that we will live again. Scripture confirms that “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4). In our times of loss and sorrow, isn’t it comforting to know that Christ has provided a heavenly home where there will be no more tears! Prayer: Gracious God, although we grieve, we know that we will live again because of living hope. Thank you, Lord, for comfort and hope. Your resurrection provides all we need for this life and the next. Amen. STEWARD GRETA L. KENDRICK SENIOR STEWARD/USHER

March 27, 2024

JESUS IS RESURRECTED “Jesus said unto her, touch me not; for I’m not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” John 20: 17 The Lenten Season is a period of almsgiving, praying, reading scriptures, practicing self-control by fasting or sacrificing a particular pleasure. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection at Easter. During this season, we seek a closer relationship to God to reflect on His goodness, faithfulness, and love for us. We are reminded to be of service to others in our community and our church. Jesus wanted people to know that He is resurrected and that He ascended. Jesus is not bitter from the cruelty He suffered, but is forgiving, kind and loving. He wants His brethren to go in peace and live a life without hate and revenge. This Lenten season I pray for peace in our country and the world. There are some who are trying to destroy our democracy by living hateful, deceitful, and revengeful lives. I pray that God changes their hearts to love and kindness to others and gives them a sense of peace. I pray that they seek the Lord with sincerity and celebrate His resurrection of peace, hope and forgiveness. Prayer: Lord, I pray for peace and love for our country and the world. Let your resurrection reflect peace, love, truth, and kindness and be an example to live in your image. Amen.


March 28, 2024

THERE’S STILL ROOM FOR ONE (Matthew 26: 69-28:20) Often I find myself in a crowd, such as weeks after the holiday season when I was among the masses who descended on the National Mall in Washington, DC. We came early to stand in the cold frigid temperature, trying to assure a perfect viewing spot to see and be a part of President Barack Obama’s inaugural activities. As in scripture, a similar desire resonated in the crowd that witnessed Jesus’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. To celebrate and welcome Jesus, the crowd laid their coats and cut branches across the road. They rejoiced saying Hosanna to the Son of David. Then in short order, the crowd turned on Jesus; his disciple Peter denied knowing him thrice; and the crowd loudly shouted to Pilate to crucify the Savior. He was later abused and scorned by his executioners. Subsequently, Jesus was led to Golgotha, carrying a cross, to which he was nailed, crucified, and then died between two robbers. The crowd questioned our Savior’s strength and his ability to save and restore not just others but himself from his current situation. The crowd did not believe on that dark crucifixion day that Jesus was the promised One who had come to provide the assurance of life eternal for all. Be confident not apprehensive, that though many have accepted God’s promise of life eternal, it is never too late for you and I to do the same. The Lenten season allows an opportunity for us to refocus and recommit ourselves to strive to attain God’s promise fulfilled by Jesus on that Resurrection Day. Don’t be fearful, for as referenced in the hymn “though millions have come there is still room for one." God assures us … be sure … I am always with you to the very end. (Matthew 28:20) Prayer: Thank you heavenly Father for your daily mercies. I pray that the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart, and the service that I give is acceptable to you. Please give me guidance as I seek to treat others as I want to be treated, and to love my neighbor as I love myself. Even though many times I may be a part of a crowd, I ask in your very precious name that you will strengthen my individual resolve to do your will in your way. Amen. TRUSTEE CAROLYN MCCLAIN (Deceased)** LADIES GUILD AND PRESIDENTS COUNCIL **LENT 2013

March 29, 2024

CROWNING GLORY “And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews! '” Matthew 27:29

Mark 15:17 depicts a striking imagery of our Lord during Crucifixion, “They dressed Him in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him.” Remembering the controversial Passion of Christ movie (2004) I still grow anxious, desperate, and overwhelmingly sad by the observed betrayal and mocking by the Roman soldiers of Jesus. I recoil with rage as Jesus was given the weighty cross to bear on his scarred back and the crown of thorns pierced into his head. Yet the lyrics, “I Shall Wear a Crown” by Thomas Whitfield bring a measure of assurance this Lenten season and spring equinox – a blossoming time of renewal: I shall wear a crown When it's all over I'm going to put on my robe Tell the story how I made it over Soon as I get home Thankfully beloveds, Jesus bore the thorny crown for our afflictions and received a new God-annointed crown of righteousness. We love and serve an awesome, awesome God. Let’s touch and agree. Prayer: Jesus, Jesus. Oh, hail the king of the Jews. They mocked and scorned you, yet you dwelt and lingered there for us. We extol your holy name and cry with conviction – Oh hail our king of glory. Bless you my divine. Amen & Asé SISTER JACQUELINE COLEMAN MORNING MEDITATIONS TEAM SARAH ALLEN MISSIONARY SOCIETY SECOND BOARD OF STEWARDS & AMBASSADORS

March 30, 2024

THE SYMBOLISM OF THE EASTER EGG AND THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2 Have you ever pondered the significance of the Easter egg to the Resurrection? Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after he was crucified. The Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. (Matthew 26:2b) An angel said to the women at the tomb, “Do not be afraid. He is not here, he has risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6) Christians refrained from eating meat and eggs for 40 days during the Lenten season. Eggs were boiled and saved to eat during the celebration of Easter. Jesus’ body was wrapped in a linen cloth and placed in a tomb. A big stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. There are many symbolisms for the Easter egg. Egg rolling symbolizes the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection. The cracked eggshell represents the empty tomb. Eggs were dyed red to represent the blood that Jesus shed when he was crucified. Purple represented royalty and suffering. Black symbolized darkness and mourning, and white was for purity and resurrection. A gold egg stood for wealth and also the presence of God to those of faith. Prayer: “Heavenly Father, help us to cherish the real reason for the celebration of Easter, and remind us that you rose to save the souls of those that are lost.” Amen. TRUSTEE JOCELYN Y. HARRIS UNITED VOICES SISTERS IN THE SPIRIT CHORALE

Easter Sunday

HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD “Arise, shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen. . . “ Isa.25: 8, Isa. 60:1, 3. Jesus became human and our sins were placed on Jesus’ head. It was in His blood that our debt was paid in full. In Romans 8: 11, it is recorded thusly, “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 our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in us.” 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. Jesus came from heaven to earth, to the cross and back to heaven to save us. Jesus, the son of God, you were obedient to God your Father. Lord, we are thankful that you gave your son Jesus as ransom for us and to bring glory to your name. Prayer: Father, I thank you for your Son Jesus who died for all our sins, but on the third day He arose from the grave and through his death he saved us. Lord, through his death old things have passed away and all things become new. Amen SISTER DOROTHY PAYNE BRYAN, PH.D. CIRCLES OF TWELVE

VOICES OF OUR ANCESTORS BROGDEN, VERNA L. Love and Peace Lent 2017 BUTLER-TRUESDALE, SANDRA Associate Minister Lent 2018 DRIVER, TERESA Stewardess Lent 2019 IFILL, GWEN Member Lent 2014 MCCLAIN, CAROLYN Trustee Lent 2013 TAYLOR, MONTA Deaconess Lent 2014 STANLEY, ELIZABETH Pastor’s Bible Study Lent 2012

CONTRIBUTORS Yvonne L. Bolling, Christian Education Director Marsha Turner Botts, Editor Evan Taylor, Layout Editor/Production

Bola-Akinola, Pius

Kendrick, Greta



Bolling, Yvonne

Kendrick, Leila


Life Member WMS

Botts, Carlos

Lamar IV, William H.

Mighty Men of Metropolitan


Botts, Jonathan

Legree, Geraldine

Church School

Pearl P. ]Cook Senior Citizens

Botts, Marsha Turner

Malveaux, Julianne

SAMS. Love and Peace

Morning Meditations Team

Brackeen, Jr., Thomas A.

McBroom, Kendal



Bassard-Jones, Deborah

McEntyre, Anntoinette


Girl Scouts

Bryan, Dorothy

Muhammad, Dora

Circles of Twelve


Coleman, Jacqueline

Oxendine, Joan


Steward Emeritus/Women’s Missionary Society

Collins, Thedford

Prioleau, III, Elias Pete

Steward, Pro Tem


Collins, Tori

Robinson, James


Steward Emeritus/Usher

Day, Marie

Scott, Elsie


Steward Emeritus

Dugger, Wade

Smith-Garner, Sidra

Steward Emeritus

United Voices

Fizer, Ellen

Smoot, Betty

Steward Emeritus

Church School

Garner, Bryon

Tate, Geoffrey

Veterans Council


Harris, Jocelyn

Taylor, Evan



Johns, Marie

Watkins, Judith

Pastor’s Steward


Jones, Barbara

Williams, Dana


Bethel 21 Historical Society

Karimah, Aisha

Wood, Barbara Booker

Associate Minister/Anchors

Friend of Metropolitan

Knight, Athelia

Woodford, Diane


Morning Meditations Team

Woody, Jacqueline Friend of Metropolitan



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