Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Reflecting on Fourth of July Worship

Thanks to a unique worship experience today, Independence Day 2007 will always stand out in my mind.

What was called “A July 4th Morning Celebration of God” didn’t draw a standing-room only crowd at Tuscaloosa’s Cornerstone Full Gospel Baptist Church.

But everyone who needed to be there was present. The 150 or so of us in addition for the unprecedented two-hour service heard some of the best preaching on freedom this side of heaven.

I couldn’t continue on with my holiday activities without pausing to report and reflect on them.

Like the Bible says, seven is the number of completion and today’s 4th of July celebration would not have been complete without each of the seven ministers’ sermonettes that focused us on our freedom that comes from being a son or daughter in God’s family.

The senior pastor, Bishop Earnest Palmer, who developed today’s service only within the last two weeks kicked off the tag-team preaching by introducing the scripture from first four verses of the 12th chapter of Genesis. He was followed by our youth pastor and our executive pastor and our director of protocol.

Even as a member of Cornerstone for about two years, I don’t remember a time when this many members of the church’s ministerial staff shared God’s Word in a single service.

“Our independence must be radical,” said Elder Lionel Grant, director of youth ministries. “What we’re doing today is radical.”

Grant’s remarks were echoed by Elder Tomalisa Washington, who noted that despite it being Independence Day some people still don’t “feel very liberated.”

“In order to get what God has for you, you have to release what’s in your hand,” Elder Washington said.

Her husband, Freddie Washington, who also is an elder and serves as Cornerstone’s executive pastor echoed her comments.

“One of the hardest lessons to learn is when it’s time to get out,” he said.

While the first three sermonettes focused on the passage from Genesis, the latter four messages used Biblical passages from the New Testament to explain our liberation by faith.

“We’re in transition,” said Minister Tschalla Jerido, who explained the significance of the 4th of July coming at the midpoint of the year, a time for us to reflect on how we are progressing toward those goals we set for 2007 and what lies ahead in part-time of the year.

There was so much of God’s Word preached today that it’s hard to recount it all. Those were some of the things that stood out in my mind.

Admitting that she was not as focused on her freedom as an American because she was “born free,” Elder Arleta Riley challenged those to focus on that freedom we were not born with”

“I wasn’t born saved,” she said. “When you’re freed from something, you’re released to something.”

As I reflect on this morning’s service, I feel released to not only report on what occurred, but to think differently and appreciate the freedom that comes in being released to do greater things not at new level (a phrase Bishop Palmer doesn’t like).

Instead, Bishop Palmer has encouraged us to go to a “new dimension” in our thinking and our way of operating this year.

The work continues.

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