We are makers of history, we are not made by history.” - Dr. Martin Luther King

Our nation and world have been forever shaped by the lives of countless African American sisters and brothers.  All too often their stories are neglected and forgotten as a result of generations of racism and oppression.  As a church we seek to celebrate these stories as "our" stories, and find ourselves more and more in the movement of Christ which is a movement of reconciliation and liberation from the "powers and principalities" of this world which seek to divide and oppress. 

So for the month of February Oak Life will be remembering and celebrating the stories and legacy of our African American sisters and brothers in a few ways.  On Sunday mornings we'll be highlighting the influence of one individual each week, some one whose faith in Christ was influential on the life they lived.  We'll also be hosting a special Cups & Couches conversation on February 19th to discuss faith and race (click here for more info).  While these small efforts are in no way comprehensive or fully capture the magnitude of Black History, we wanted to foster more awareness and conversation within our community.

Below you'll find our Black History Liturgy for this year.  Let this be a chance to remember the past, grieve the ways in which racism still divides, and pray for Christ's kingdom of reconciliation to be more realized in our world- on earth as it is in heaven.  As you read, notice the feelings that arise, and spend some focused time in prayer.  Also feel free to share in the comments your experiences or stories from the lives of other individuals who are worth celebrating!

Oak Life Black History Liturgy:

Introduction
 

As we continue our worship we’re going to do something a little different for the next few weeks by joining with millions around our nation to celebrate Black History month.  

While acknowledging that setting aside one month a year to remember the contributions and the history of African Americans does not fully resolve the deeper issues of racism, prejudice, and injustice, as Oak Life we are committed to working towards the reconciliation of all things that Christ brings.  We also acknowledge that this is by no means a comprehensive list of people, but just a starting point to remember the shared humanity in us all. 

Because in Christ, the dividing walls that separate us are torn down.  

And so we pray for our nation and our cities- for reconciliation.

We remember the scars of our past and ask God to help us heal.

And we celebrate those who have gone before us and brought about change, freedom, justice, and peace.

So during the month of February we are going to pause for a moment each Sunday to celebrate Black History.

Each week we’ll hear from Christian leaders by reading some of their words.

This will help us celebrate, remember, and pray for God’s movement of reconciliation to continue in our lives and in our world.

This will also give us a chance to be led in worship by voices from our past.  

As we read these quotes, we ask that each of us will consider the past and pray for the future.
 

Week 1

This morning we celebrate and honor impact and legacy of Fredrick Douglas who, in addition to being a follower of Christ, was an abolitionist and a preacher.

Let his words lead us in worship this morning.  

“The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

“One and God make a majority”

Prayer:

“Father thank you for the legacy of women and men like Fredrick Douglas who sacrificed their lives for the sake of your good news.  Help us be inspired by them and learn from them.”

 

Week 2

This morning we celebrate and honor impact and legacy of Sojourner Truth who was, in addition to being a follower of Christ, was also an abolitionist and women's rights activist.

Let her words lead us in worship this morning.  

“Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.”

“Let others say what they will of the efficacy of prayer, I believe in it, and I shall pray. Thank God! Yes, I shall always pray”

“Truth is powerful and it prevails”

Prayer:

“Father thank you for the legacy of women and men like Fredrick Douglas who sacrificed their lives for the sake of your good news.  Help us be inspired by them and learn from them.”

Week 3

This morning we celebrate and honor impact and legacy of Pastor William J. Seymour who helped initiate the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, which was one of the first racially integrated worship gatherings in America and which is considered the starting point of the modern Charismatic movement which now numbers in the hundreds of millions.

Let his words lead us in worship this morning.  

“There are many wells today, but they are dry. There are many hungry souls today that are empty. But let us come to Jesus and take Him at His Word and we will find wells of salvation, and be able to draw waters out of the well of salvation, for Jesus is that well.”

Prayer:

“Father thank you for the legacy of women and men like William Seymour who sacrificed their lives for the sake of your good news.  Help us be inspired by them and learn from them.”

Week 4

This morning we celebrate and honor impact and legacy of a woman who’s known as “Old Elizabeth who was an emancipated slave and at the age of 42 became a preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal church.  Her pioneering work as a female preacher and emancipated slave paved the way for millions.  Her memoir, Elizabeth, A Colored Minister of the Gospel, Born in Slavery was published when she was 97 years old and is an important piece of Black history.  

Let her words lead us in worship this morning.  

“Here I had deep sorrows and plungings, not having experienced a return of that sweet evidence and light with which I had been favoured formerly; but by watching unto prayer, and wrestling mightily with the Lord, my peace gradually returned, and with it a great exercise and weight upon my heart for the salvation of my fellow-creatures; and I was often carried to distant lands and shown places where I should have to travel and deliver the Lord's message.”

Prayer:

“Father thank you for the legacy of women and men like Old Elizabeth who sacrificed their lives for the sake of your good news.  Help us be inspired by them and learn from them.”

 

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