Today we celebrate Family and Friends Day. First, to all of you who are here to be with a family member or friend, I want to welcome you to GCBC.
Second, I want to say that it is a sign of the times that there has to be a formal invitation extended to family members and friends to come to church. There was a time when it was just assumed that on Sunday the entire family would get up and go to worship together.
Family has always been important to Black people. When we were brought to these shores, every effort was made to keep family members apart. In fact, every effort was made to keep people separated who spoke the same dialect. During slavery, some men and women were forced to give birth to children for breeding purposes. Often fathers and mothers were sold away from their children and vice versa.
After emancipation, many parents and children started looking for each other in an effort to re-establish their family. Often they could not re-connect because there were few, if any, court records kept of the birth of Black people.
What they missed by way of biological connection to a family was often made up for at church. At church, older people were our mothers and fathers and everybody were sisters and brothers. In fact, that’s how the idea of “Mother of the Church” came into existence. We used to call some older people “Auntie” and “Uncle” even though there was no biological kinship. In short, at church the concept of family was re-defined. Jesus had set the precedent. In Matthew 12: 46 – 50, he says: “Who is my mother and my brothers and sisters?” And then He answers His own question by saying: “He/she who does the will of my Father is my mother, my sister, my brother.”
At church we are all family. It does not matter what one’s real life family circumstance may be. Here at GCBC, we are all family. There are no big “I’s” and little “U’s”. We are all God’s children and that makes us family!
Now, with that somewhat elaborate explanation, I can return to my first point: WELCOME