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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Otis Moss On Prophetic Preaching, Conscience & Courage

(Bill Self and Otis Moss Jr.)

Otis Moss Jr. just preached at the Prophetic Preaching Conference here at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I've blogged about this preaching confab in the past. Read about it and the Rev. Otis Moss HERE.

Now, here's is a lengthy snippet from Moss's sermon:

Prophetic Preaching is dangerous. Prophetic preachin can get you killed. Prophetic preaching is not necessarily safe but it is saving. It will not keep you from being killed but it will keep you from being ailler. If we are to live our lives in the prophetic tradition, we must be prepared to struggle and in that struggle, we must be prepared to suffer. But when you have stood the storms of life and when you have been shaken , the ground around the roots of your life will be shaken and when the ground is shaken the roots will grow deeper and the limbs will grow wider and the top grows taller and you become warm and better than you are.

There are some testimonies that we will only make when we have been through the storm. So remember, if you have never been through the storm not to boast about it – it simply means you have no strength. No stones - no strength. No stones - deep roots. Howard Thurman said often in his teachings and preachins that God has placed not on our heads a crown for which we must spend the rest of our lives trying to grow tall enough to wear and I think that growth is enhanced by a special kind of suffering….

When we are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, when we are anointed by God to preach and teach the Gospel – you don’t have to look for suffering, it will come to you in due time sometimes much sooner than we would desire. But that suffering that comes to us not because we were foolish and made some “out of joint” decisions but because we allowed God to use our lives to God’s own glory.

So, when I struggle, I grow. When I struggle, I become strong. If you would read the first paragraph of Dr. King’s major message at the Riverside Church in New York one year before his assassination when he gave that prophetic message against the war in Vietnam. In that opening paragraph, he makes the statement that often his ministry becomes a vocation of agony. And who is eager to sign up for a vocation of agony in an age of prosperity Gospel. Name it and claim it. How often have you named and claimed a vocation of agony.

Sometimes we can learn from certain traditions beyond where we stand in our own traditions. You know Gandhi talked about the great social sins, one of which was politics without principle. Another he named as wealth without work. Dr. King said on one occasion: vanity asked is it popular?, expediency asked is it safe?, politics asked is it expedient?, but conscience asked is it right? And there comes a time when we must do that which is neither popular nor expedient nor safe but that which is right.

One of the great tragedies of our nation today is found in both in Democratic and Republican parties. The Republican Party has lost its conscience. The Democratic Party has lots its courage. And there is a cry, a cry for the Church to bring back conscience and courage into our public policy and political life. But we cannot bring back conscience and courage if we are waiting for a faith based grant from those who we have followed with a certain kind of strange expectation, not an expectation for justice, but an expectation for charity and a handout and our great teacher both from Yale and Riverside who now rests in eternity said that we should never accept charity as a substitute for justice. Sometimes there is a temptation and not struggle for justice.

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