Archive for the ‘Urban Renewal’ Category

“Train up a Child in the Way [S]/He Should Go:” Reflections on the Urban Youth Summer Academy 2013

Sunday, August 4th, 2013 by Antipas Harris

UYSA photo boyProverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way [s]/he should go; even when [s]/he is old he will not depart from it.”

“Training” is a broad term. Regent University Summer Urban Youth Academy takes “training” seriously. According to the United States Department of Education, “One out of every four students that walks through the schoolhouse doors on the first day of their freshmen year in high school will not graduate with their classmates, if at all. In minority communities, the numbers are even bleaker—it is closer to one out of every two. Every year, that’s 1.2 million students giving up. That’s a student dropping out every 26 seconds.” As I ponder these statistics, the passage in Proverbs gains epochal focus on the blight on early education in our country. Read the rest of this entry »

God Says, “Be Holy!”

Monday, August 6th, 2012 by Antipas Harris

 

Centuries of social, political, cultural, and religious diversity weigh heavily on expressions of Christianity. Party politics, greed, personality driven ministries, ministry as business, and denominational and non-denominational church struggles over members seem to be the order of the day.  These influences have moved Christians further and further away from divine principles to which Christians are called to live out before a world that is far from God. The Church is called to be holy; so Christians must pursue holiness amidst an unholy world. The world does not know God so the world cannot lead in holiness. The best way to win the world to faith in Christ is by bearing witness to Christ through the Christian’s lifestyle of holiness – a life that is indifferent of the world—and expressed love towards those who are not living that life.  Miller argues that a careful revisit of historical developments that have altered Christianity from its biblical form of indifference might be a meaningful way for the Church to regain its fervor in representing Christ in the world—a world that God expects for Christians to be in but not of. Read the rest of this entry »

Where are the Prophets — The Real Ones?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 by Antipas Harris

Today is a very sad day in South Georgia. After a long fight to prove his innocence, Troy Davis faces the death penalty tonight. From my view of the television, largely Caucasian American Law Enforcement Officers are on post to maintain order outside the chambers with tons of people, appearing to be mostly  African Americans, standing in protest, awaiting the Supreme Court’s final decision whether to execute him or acquit him.

Then, word comes back — “The Supreme Court Denies Davis Appeal.” Gosh! The scene on the television screen is way too reminiscent of the scenes from the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement. Some scenes and situations need not be repeated — this is one of them!

Davis is accused of murdering a police officer is 1989. The evidence has been weak to prove that he is guilty. Yet, he has found it difficult to prove his innocence. It is not surprising that Davis is African American. Researchers like University of Iowa law professor, the late David C. Baldus  has proven that racism permeates the death penalty and has done so since it was re-instated in America.

I have no desire to protect the guilty at the expense of the violated. Yet, the death penalty is problematic on so many levels. I cannot address all of them here.  However, I will say that research proves that the practice of the death penalty represents strands in American fabric that are racist at the core. There are similar racist strands that seem to weave through the educational system, job markets, Plan Parenthood’s abortion clinics, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I wanna; But…

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 by Antipas Harris

A Chinese proverb says, “To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.” Life’s challenges often create uncertainties despite our desire to overcome them. However, there is an inner spiritual impetus for us to triumph “certainty” even though the Chinese proverb calls this approach to life “ridiculous.” I call this a divine inspiration to “walk in the ridiculous.”

Challenges that render uncertainties for us include insecurities pertaining to how we might feel that we look in comparison to someone else, measures of success in education, employment, finances, etcetera. As result, we are often tempted to give up.

Life’s changes, moreover, often lead to adjustments, sometimes for life. Normalcy is interrupted in the event of changes in health (illness that debilitates), changes in finances, car accidents, family crises, etcetera.

About six months ago, I was diagnosed with hypertension and fatty liver. My diagnosis came just after my dad experienced kidney failure. In the wake of the family crisis, my diagnosis startled me. Immediately, I changed my diet, began a physical exercise regimen, and paid multiple visits to the doctor to monitor my health progress. Thankfully, I am now overcome the fatty liver and my blood pressure readings are significantly lower. It is amazing, though, how situations and events alter normalcy; fear of the what might happen grips so tight that it is hard to breathe. Read the rest of this entry »

Resurrection Hope: What Easter Means for the Everyday-Life of Christians

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 by Antipas Harris

John 11:25a records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In a time of wars, terror threats, various earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, political unrest and social mayhem, it is imperative that preachers emphasize the existential hope extended to humankind in Christ’s resurrection. Year after year, Easter sermons have de-emphasized the bloody cross and the heinous events that constitute the celebration of “Good Friday.” But we must not cater to the romantic end of the story without giving sufficient gaze into the painful process prior to Easter. The actual events prior to Easter impact the hope we find in Easter. Over the anuls of Hebrew history, Jews have celebrated “Passover.” Passover emphasizes the blood of the lamb that gives hope to Israel in the middle of a night of death. Passover in the first century was when Jesus was crucified.

That Passover, moreover, Jesus became the bloody Lamb. He experienced a night of merciless beatings, an unfair trial, a struggle to carry the burden of the cross up Calvary’s hill, a torture of nails, thorns and a piercing in the side. Easter is triumph through death, hell and the grave. Easter is triumph through torture, injustice, pain and agony. Easter, therefore, is life breaking through death, triumphing pain and agony. Easter is victory in spite of oppression. Easter is victory through the cross.

Liberation theologian and archbishop Paulo Evaristo Arns’s article “Easter and the Hope of Victory” sheds light on the existential implications of Easter. Yet, he does not go far enough into the practical dynamics worth exploring.  He writes, “A people liberated from bondage were to remember that God saw their misery and descended to free them in order to give them the possibility of living another social model based upon equality, justice and solidarity. Easter is the memory of the liberating transit of God who of a slave people made a free and equal people.” As we observe our times, watch the news and engage ministry to the broken, one admits that even in the “land of the free and home of the braves” people are not always free. People, here, are not always brave. Over the past 10 years events in our history such as 9/11, other terror attempts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and oil spills (to name a few) have challenged our freedom and cast a shadow of fear over our former bravery.

A few days ago and in my neighborhood, a young man attempted to rob the bank in the broad daylight. The police caught him. Yet, out of fear for his own life, the police shot the robber and landed him in the hospital. The situation impacted our community such that people are more protective. Unlike the late eighties/early nineties in Manchester, Georgia, I am careful to lock my car and house doors — even in the middle of the day. Things have changed! We seem to fear each other more than we help each other. Read the rest of this entry »

For What?: A Sermon on Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, March 7th, 2011 by Antipas Harris

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Often we think of the Spirit and the anointing of God in privatized categories with little concern for the everyday experience of the collective human family. We like to soak in prayer like Theresa of Avila. We like to come together to sing. We feel good when we do these things because we have come to believe that this is what a good Spirit-filled Christian is suppose to do. Although these are essential practices for the Christian. But there is much more!

Popular ministers often teach that giving money and service to a ministry merits miracles and material blessings. Church as usual is more concerned with building buildings and ministry empires than leading people in social action, advocating for social justice and community transformation. This is a problem!
Read the rest of this entry »