NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR PENTECOST AND PRIDE SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2019

This Sunday, Covenant will observe two events, Pride and Pentecost Sunday. After celebrating Pentecost Sunday in worship, we’ll join thousands from our community at Central Alabama’s 2019 Pridefest. Covenant’s singing group “Glory” will represent Covenant singing “This is Me.”

Both, Pride and Pentecost are stories of publicly coming out. Over the years, I’ve known many LGBTQ folks for whom their first public coming out experience was participating in a Pride Parade or some other Pride event. After years of living in fear and shame, it seems that being around others who were proud to celebrate who they were had a positive effect on them. It empowered them to take the important step of publicly coming out for the first time in their lives to celebrate who God created them to be. For nearly everyone, taking that step at a Pride event, made for an exciting and memorable coming out moment.

Something like that happened to the followers of Jesus at that first Pentecost after the Resurrection. One hundred and twenty of them gathered to worship behind closed doors in an upper room. On this day, the Christian Church was born, the Holy Spirit showed up and showed out. The Holy Spirit empowered these 120 that inspired them to also have a public coming out moment. For example, Peter who had been afraid 52 days before to even be associated with Jesus, now came out and preached boldly a message of hope and love in Christ Jesus. And that day, 3000 folks said yes to walking in relationship with God. It was an exciting and memorable public coming out moment of being led by the Holy Spirit that’s recorded in scripture. It’s the kind of coming out moment God offers each of us every day we wake up.

Join us this Pentecost and Pride Sunday for worship before going to Pridefest. My sermon will be “Coming Out to A Life Filled with The Holy Spirit” based on Romans 8:14-17 and John 14:9a, 15-17, 25-27,” referencing “Acts 2:1-21.”

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NOTE FROM PASTOR JR FOR ASCENSION SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2019

This Sunday many churches will commemorate the ascension of Jesus. It’s also the first Sunday of Pride Month for us in Central Alabama.

The Ascension of Jesus is His final recorded event in His physical body among us, 40 days after The Resurrection. But more than that the Ascension of Jesus is the culmination of Him having been humanity’s greatest example of living life to the fullest.

His Ascension could be considered a metaphor for why we celebrate Pride Month. Pride Month is about celebrating being and living as God created us to be. And more importantly, God desires for us to do this to the best of our ability. This is what Jesus, our greatest example, meant in John 10:10 when He said, “…I come that you might have life, and live it to the fullest.” The only way to accomplish this is learning to embrace, celebrate and live being all God created us to be.

In a scene from “The Greatest Showman”, Keala Settle, dons a beard, leading an ensemble in a performance of “This Is Me.” The words of the song represent the journey, the struggle and coming to terms with finally recognizing and celebrating that by God’s grace, Gloria Gaynor was right when she sang “I am what I am.”

The Apostle Paul sums up the point I’m making with these words from Ephesians 1:18, (Amplified Bible): “I pray that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which God has called you …

Join us for worship this Ascension Sunday and First Sunday of Pride Month. Gloria will sing “This Is Me.” My sermon will be “Ascend to Being All God Created You to Be!” based on Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:44-53, including Ephesians 1:1

NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2018

June is Pride Month. I’ve been participating, first in civil rights struggles and then Pride activities practically all of my life. Along the way you get tired and frustrated by the seemingly slow progress that is being made.

Sometimes you just need to be reminded why you do equality, civil rights and justice work; why you fight for people who cannot fight for themselves; why you battle for rights for those who don’t and won’t help in trying to win those rights for themselves; why you take the mental and verbal attacks by those opposed to the basic human and civil rights for everyone. As a child of the Civil Rights Era and longtime activist for equality for the LGBTQ community, it’s simply who I am.

In 1965, Dr. King delivered a powerful speech in Montgomery, AL that included this resonant line: “The arc of the moral universe is long; but it bends toward justice.” It was first said by Theodore Parker, a Unitarian minister, calling for the abolition of slavery in his 1853 sermon “Of Justice and the Conscience.” We continue to work for equality, civil rights and justice FOR ALL because we believe this to be true.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and marriage equality decision of June 26, 2015, made us think we had come so far. But now, every day it seems many of the hard-fought victories, we took for granted to be secure, are increasingly under attack or being undone. The efforts to undo equality and justices are being led by people who profess to be followers of Christ.

How can this be? So, where do we people of faith who hold these views of “Loving mercy, doing justice and walking humbly with our God” turn for answers to what seemingly are unanswerable questions? I suggest a fresh look at Holy Scripture.

I invite you to join us Sunday mornings during Pride Month for a special 4-Part Pride sermon series called “UNSHAKEABLE ASSURANCES” based on Romans 8:31-39. The sermon on this first Sunday of Pride Month will be “GOD IS FOR US!”

Then join us at 5 PM to help Kick Off Pride Week at 5 PM for the Central Alabama Pride Interfaith Service at Covenant, followed by a reception in the Fellowship Hall.