This is the text of a sermon given by student minister and BUC community worker Adedeji Sunday Akintayo for the fourth Sunday of Black History month 2o23.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
BLACKS AND FORGIVING THE PAST
In March 2011, i was privileged to take five Americans to Lagos, Nigeria for the first libertarian youth empowerment conference. I specifically used Badagry, a coastal town in Lagos as the conference location. Badagry is a slave route coastal town where 99% of all slaves from Nigeria where forcefully travelled to North America.
I took my American friends to Gberefun Island, POINT OF NO RETURN. The POINT OF NO RETURN is the spot where slaves were moved to Europe and North America.
I looked into the eyes of my American friends on that day and I saw in their eyes that they were not happy in the acts of slavery.
This is not my first time to preach in Black History Month but I feel APPREHENSIVE to be your servant that would speak about the narrative of hate and love surround the Black History.
I have been preaching on black History month since 2019 in Canada. Thanks to Beaconsfield United Church for giving me the privileged to be doing this. So when I was designing this year’s Black History Month events and programs for Beaconsfield United Church, the place where I work. I SPECIFICALLY avoided the BAD /HATE/ INJUSTICE parts of the history. Rather I focused FORGIVING THE PAST. So my topic for today is: FORGIVING THE PAST.
In 1833 -1834, Black Slavery was abolished everywhere in Canada and in all the British Colonies areas….
January 31st 1865, the US congress passed the 13th amendment ABOLISHED slavery and INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE.
Do we as Christians think about the people that fought day and night to stop slavery? Both white and black people sacrificed their lives to make sure the slavery was stopped.
Let us reflect about these people that ADVOCATED for slavery to come to an end and created positive impacts in the global world.
Fifty eight years after the abolishment of slavery in the USA, American Southern Baptist Missionaries founded a Baptist Boys High School in far-away Abeokuta city, Ogun State, Nigeria.
The American Southern Baptist Convention, Foreign Mission Board started work in Abeokuta on August 5th 1850, with the arrival of the first missionary, Reverend Thomas Jefferson Bowen. As well as preaching the gospel, the American Southern Baptist mission to Nigeria provided schools, hospitals, teacher training and theological colleges. The Nigerian Baptist Mission, an arm of its American counterpart, established the Baptist Boys High School in 1923. This particular school formed/trained Nigerian Presidents, Speakers of Congress, Governors, Senators and numerous successful people in different fields of life. Myself, your servant preacher today was formed by these white missionaries that risked their lives and laid the foundation of education in that Baptist Boys High school in faraway Abeokuta capital city of Ogun state, Nigeria.
In Psalm 32:5 we read:
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,"
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
The colonial masters recognized they sinned and stopped the action of slavery is similar to the Psalmist approached in Psalm 32 vs 5.
The ability of the colonial masters realizing that slavery of human being is wrong. Is like openly confessing their sins as read in our scripture for this worship service.
We need to see the good work some people did for decades and the success they achieved.
Forgiving the past is not only about Black History and the injustices of the past that were targeting black persons only.
There was and is still hate between white people too.
There is hate and injustice towards Indigenous people as well.
Paul REPRIMANDED the Galatians in Galatians 5 vs 1.
“ For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not
submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Let us REFLECT THEOLOGICALLY about the role of God in slavery acts.
Does God approve of slavery?
Why is God silent on seeing a fellow human SUBJECTING another human being into slavery?
Our God is a God of liberty and He gave everyone liberty.
God gave Pharaoh and the Egyptians the liberty to subject Israelites into slavery.
We are currently seeing for over one year, Putin and Russian soldiers carrying out atrocities and evil in Ukraine. They are enjoying the liberty of God.
God gave us liberty and it is now left for us human beings to use this good GOD-GIVEN liberty in a good way for the GOOD of creation and humanity.
White people that EXPLORED SLAVERY, also experienced this liberty of God but in 1833 in this beautiful Canada, country of all of us, the white people repented and came up with a law of abolishing slavery.
In 2nd Corinthians, chapter 5 verse 17:
”Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
We are NEW CREATION.
THE WHITE MUST COME OUT AND BE A NEW CREATION.
To the white people, my message is for you to embrace the NEW CREATION IDENTITY, by showing love towards fellow white neighbors.
By showing love to the black people.
By showing love to the indigenous people.
To the black people, my message for you today is for you not to dwell in the injustice of the past.
Don’t let the past make you hate a good neighbor.
Don’t let the past make you be an evil person. Put the past behind.
YOU MUST EMBRACE FORGIVENESS AS YOUR NEW CREATION IDENTITY.
Theologically, let us think about WHY God allow Israelites to be slaves. Why God want us to have new identity.
The book of Exodus 12:40 AFFIRM that the Israelites were in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years…
There was a reason why God allowed the blacks to ENDURE many injustices, Slavery included…
So i am telling you today that god is not an evil creator but he created the world which has a past for a reason.
God is a good creator that created the white people, same God created the black people.
In the same way God created His children, the Israelites and let them be slaves in Egypt for decades;
Today I want to challenge us to put the hate of the past behind us and let us love.
Our roles as Christians are to open the eyes and minds of people to not
INDULGE in racism action.
Galatians 5 verse 14:
"For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Are we ready to put love above hate? Are we ready to UPLIFT the good out of the past and not EMPHASIZE the bad from the past?
To the black people listening.
To the white people listening.
To the indigenous Canadians.
To the Asians, Europeans.
We must learn to forgive the past.
We can’t go back in the past.
For all of us, irrespective of our ethnicity, we must forget the past sin.
And we shouldn’t reflect much on the negativity of the past.
What is expected of us is to love.
What is expected of us is to feed the poor.
What is expected of us is to promote peace in our community, nation and globally.
What is expected of us is to continue evangelizing Christ and his missions on earth.
To achieve Christ Mission, we can’t continue to be judging the past. We must become a new creation. Are you ready to become a new creation?
May God help each one of us to become a new creation. Amen.