SeniorBishopReddick1200

Dear CME Family,

           It is not President Trump’s job to tell God’s churches when or how or why to worship.  That is not any President’s or secular leader’s job.  We agree with President Trump that worship is essential, and we urge him and all who lead us in the secular domain and in God’s churches to practice and model good worship.  But we are also admonished by the Scriptures to be careful to not do the things that may harm our brothers and sisters.

           Sheltering in place (if we can) while this virus is not decreasing is an act of love.  Wearing a mask when we must go out is an act of love.  The pride of being able to worship within our church buildings pales if, in that pride, people can be endangered and die.  Google the Holy Ghost Catholic Church of Houston, Texas, or the name of Rev. Mark Palenske.  People became infected and some died who worshipped with them.  The Houston case is a few days ago; the case of Reverend Palenske, in Arkansas, was mid-March.

           On this Ascension Sunday (the day we lift up in celebrating the victory of Christ’s resurrection completed by His ascension into heaven), I am reminded that Jesus – and Jesus alone – is Lord of God’s Church.  So while we offer our national leader the respect of his office, he does not dictate when or where or how God’s churches should worship.  We whom God has chosen to lead God’s people must act responsibly on behalf of God’s people.

           Unfortunately, I believe we are evidencing in the United States the overwhelming influence of political and economic winds that dare to put the economy and the election and the pride of big church gatherings above the faithfulness in love, devotion, witness and service that God seeks from us.

           Love was the first word of the four mentioned in the last sentence.  I am reminded of the news clip that showed what seemed a self-filmed video of a bus driver who talked about how people would get on his bus and, in their talking, spit in his face, seemingly oblivious or uncaring that they had done so.  Days after that video, he died of COVID-19.

           Ruth Padilla DeBorst, a Latin American-born theologian who attended a weekly sharing in April gave us this prayer before we closed that day:

            May we who are merely inconvenienced

            remember those whose lives are at stake.

            May we who have no risk factors

remember those most vulnerable.

            May we who have the luxury of working from home

remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

            May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close

remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips

remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market

remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home

remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our world, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,

let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

           Love considers the weaker ones among us before blasting ahead.  Amid the bravado of those who defiantly refuse to mask themselves and cover their own spit – though we have been warned, again and again that wearing the mask protects others – Christians are called to choose to do the loving action rather than broadly demand our “rights.”  True love is not measured simply by what you feel; true love is evidenced by what we choose to do (and not do).

           Let us also choose to be faithful devotees and witnesses. 

           My usual Sunday ritual for many years has been to travel.  Sunday is the day I visit the various churches of the episcopal district to which I’m assigned.  I travel and I visit in worship somewhere, preferably a place I have not been before.  It helps me get to know the people to whom I am assigned.   But during this “sheltering in,” I’ve traveled by internet to places within and beyond the episcopal district I serve (and beyond the CME Church).  I’ve witnessed a broad display of faithful believers in worship, and I’ve witnessed the ingenuity of people who have discovered new ways and extended methods and expressions of worship.  The creativity has been astounding and overwhelming in beauty and in blessings.

           As I sat to write this, my spirit was hearing Isaiah 30:15 –

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation,

In quietness and trust is your strength,

But you would have none of it.’”

           This Scripture should not be heard in isolation.  It was Isaiah’s prophetic warning to those people in Judah who thought their only hope was to run to Egypt for a military alliance against the impending, invading foes.  God was reminding them to seek God’s face, to repent and to trust God, and God alone.

           Yes, the economy has suffered and will still suffer greatly.  Yes, we miss our embraces and our “in one place” expressions of fellowship.  Yes, this is a difficult time.  But let us remember those who suffer or are at risk the most in this period and let us keep engaging in ways to keep them uplifted in our prayers and in the sharing of our financial gifts and deeds of service.

But if you, like I, are in an area where the Coronavirus numbers are still high or going up, do not “open up” as if we have overcome because that gives no consideration to the suffering communities in our midst; do not “open up” without any consideration of how you will sanitize your worship space, what sanitary aids will be available, whether you will require everyone to wear a mask, or how you will worship without the singing we love that we now discover “inhabits” the air around us longer than our talk (thus making it potentially more dangerous than speaking).

           As for me and our house, though I love the Sunday travel, we will continue to travel by internet.  We will worship.  We will witness.  We will give.  We will serve.  And I believe God will be pleased with us.  And after all, God is the Judge who counts.

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

LLREDDICK3@yahoo.com

16 Comments

  1. Geraline Ray on May 24, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Amen, Bishop Reddick. I agree. Though shalt not tempt the Lord thou God.

  2. Dwight Crew on May 24, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you for your words of encouragement ????????

  3. Lisa Anderson on May 24, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    I am in complete agreement with you Senior Bishop Reddick????????

  4. Luther Minor on May 24, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Thank. You, Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick for those bold, powerful, and prophetic instructions!

    • Rev Mayvone Moton on May 31, 2020 at 7:20 pm

      Thank you Bishop, I agree completely and I appreciate your leadership.

  5. Burma Hill on May 24, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    I want to shout AMEN from the highest mountain!

  6. LaVada Childs on May 25, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Great Research! Thank God For Your Guidance & Consulting With Him To Lead His People! I Believe This Is A Sound Descision In Leadership Of How The Lord Would Have You To Lead His People During This Pandemic… Glory To God For You Bishop Reddick & Elder Mitchell & My Pastor Bell For Letting God Use You All!

  7. Regina Oliver on May 25, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you Senior Bishop Reddick! That was truly a conformation from God on what our churches should do. I pray that we all realize that all of this is in God’s plan and in is time and not man’s. TGBATG is my prayer and Bless you sir.

  8. Mrs Yvonne T Williams on May 25, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Thank you, Seventhy three year old members of Metropolitan Cme Church Cincinnati, Ohio, Pastor IRA Gibson ,Bishop Marvin F. Thomas. Thank you again. Well said.

  9. Yvonne T. Williams on May 25, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you for your words of encouragement !!

  10. E Worlds on May 26, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you sir! I know your words are God-fed and true.

  11. Rev. Creola L. Richardson on May 26, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Amen

  12. Alicia B Rollerson on May 27, 2020 at 4:04 am

    Thanks so much Bishop Reddick for those powerful
    words of encouragement!!! Continue to shelter in and
    be safe♥️♥️♥️
    Luv’n prayers,
    Elder &. Sis. Rollerson

  13. Greetings Senior Bishop,

    Enjoyed the message, we would like to share this message with our members on our private social network created during the pandemic if allowed.

    We thank you and the CME Church in advance for your service and dedication to sharing God’s word and inspiration.

    Respectfully,
    St. Paul CME Docena

  14. Jon M Isom, Pastor, Douglass Chapel CME, Stanton, TN on May 27, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    Thank you Bishop Reddick for these powerful words of guidance. Just because it is “legal” does not make it right or best.
    If we consider the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23,24 – (KJV)  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.  Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s
    (BBE) We are free to do all things, but there are things which it is not wise to do. We are free to do all things, but not all things are for the common good. Let a man give attention not only to what is good for himself, but equally to his neighbour’s good. 

  15. Sandra Clark on May 27, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you for those words of wisdom.

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