Institutional First Baptist Church Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr.
Delivered On
February 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Central Passage
Genesis 45:4
I Am Your Brother

The 2nd Sunday in February is observed as Race

Relations Sunday. It was established by the Southern

Baptist Convention in 1916. The mandate stipulated that

"Southern Baptist Churches throughout the nation will

observe Race Relations Sunday February 13, in an effort

to practice and teach justice, goodwill and love for all."

Ten years later, Dr. Carter G. Woodson " initiated the

celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with

the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

The former was an abolitionist and the latter issued the

Proclamation of Independence. In 1976, the celebration

was expanded to include the entire month of February.

" Today Black History garners support throughout the

country as people of all ethic and social backgrounds

discuss the black experience."

Our sermon today is part of the Institutional First

Baptist Church’s commemoration of Black History month

along with embracing Race Relations Sunday. It was

prepared under the heading, " I Am Your Brother ".

It will encompass the following three objectives, namely:

to identify some brother types found in the Bible, to list

some social brother types, to analyze Jacob’s family with

an emphasis family pathology, or problems and to gleam

insights on Contemporary American society.

As background for the sermon, attention is called

to the pivotal concept, brother. Originally, this word

referred to a male related to another male or female through

a blood - the "big" word is consanguinity. The two persons

are children of the same parents. Cain and Abel were brothers;

they had the same parents. With this definition of

 brother, the emphasis will now be directed to the first

objective which is - to identify some brother types found in

the Bible. Within that book are found several families that

had bothers; there were more bother configurations in the

Old rather than the New Testaments. A few of them include:

Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, and the twelve sons of

Jacob - to list but a few. It is from Jacob’s offsprings that

the textual base of this sermon is anchored. This fact will

lead to the second objective of the sermon which is - to

delineate a few of the social brother types. Probably, the

most recognized type is known as the half-bother; this

terms refers to an individual who is an offspring of one

but not both adult individuals. Thus, that person is an

half brother to the offsprings of both parents. The next

brother type exists within the social sphere; this group

includes the fraternity, the masonic brother, the shrine

brother, the military brother, the Christian brother, and

two decades ago there was the soul brother. Each of

these brother configurations is characterized by social

and psychological bonds that promote the continuation

of the brother types.

Against this overview on brother types, the focus

will now be directed to the textual subject - "Come

closer, I Am Your Brother." Prior to Joseph’s uttering

that invitation, there had been recurring strife,

jealously, anger, plotting, and even extreme dislike

for Joseph. The family consisted of twelve boys within

Jacob’s household. There were four women in the unit;

they consisted of Lear and her maidservant and Rachael

and her maidservant. While Jacob was father of the boys,

he had a special devotion to Joseph; the other brothers

were keenly aware of their father’s bias and, they,

became confident of his preference when he gave Joseph

a coat of many colors. Joseph, himself, added to his

brothers’ dislike of him by telling them of his dreams

in which he was over them. To fast forward, the brothers’

sought to rid themselves of Joseph and they bounded and

cast him into a pit. Unknown to them, but many years later

they would stand before Joseph to buy grains owing to the

famine in their homeland. Fast forwarding again, Joseph’s

brothers stood before him being accused of dishonesty.

The scene was so emotional that Joseph turned and wept.

Upon regaining his composure, Joseph said unto them,

"Come near me, I pray you, and they came near. And he

said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt".

This narrative of Joseph leaps across the annals of

time with implications throughout historical periods,

between nations, within nations, and various social,

religious and political groups. Owing the near universal

application of this Joseph episode, the sermon will be

restricted to the within nation analysis - which is the

third, and last, aspect of the sermon. This discussion

will include Race Relations and the Significance of

Black History Month.

In a book entitled, Handbooks on Blacks in Albany

in Albany, GA. Pastor Sherman labeled slavery as "Man’s

greatest inhumanity to mankind". That label was used to

embody the numerous indignities imposed on a people

that knew nothing about America, a people captured and

transferred as cargo in slave ships, a people sold at

auction blocks - one yet stands at Saint Augustine, FA.,

a people prohibited from using its native tongue, denied

opportunities for worship, allowed no formal training and

could be whipped and sold by the plantation owner.

Beloved that inhuman system started in 1619 and

lasted until 1863. With respect to Race Relations Sunday,

why did it not occur during the period of slavery, and why

was it so late, chronologically ( 1916 ) to be established?

Might that Sunday be thought of as an annual purging

Worship for that group who enslaved Africans?

Resisting the urge to further comment on this annual

worship, attention will now be placed on the significance

of Black History Month. As noted earlier, Dr. Carter G.

Woodson was appalled by the scarcity of writing on

the black experiences in America. He, therefore,

established the Journal of Negro History, Negro History

Week now known as Black History Month, and later

The Association for the Study of African American Life and

History. Your pastor will be in attendance at a meeting

of this Association later this month in Washington, DC.

In closing, this sermon was entitled I Am Your

Brother. It identified some brothers found in the Old

Testament, but concentrated on Jacobs sons. It was

highlighted by the invitation of Joseph to his brothers,

who had earlier cast him into a pit, "come near...I am

Joseph your brother...". Secondly, the sermon explored

some facets of Race Relations Sunday while questioning

the lateness of its establishment and, thirdly, it delved into

the Black experiences and the role of Carter G. Woodson

in bringing this neglected history to the American public.

Finally, there are, hopefully, some pertinent questions

and conclusions which are herein submitted: Does the

lateness in establishing Race Relations Sunday mirror

the Nation’s lingering marginal, if any, commitment to

the equality for African Americans? Is the Republican

agenda toward African Americans and other minorities

like unto Joseph’s brothers - i.e just bound us and cast us

into the pit of everlasting inequality? With respect to our history,

we owe an ever present measure of gratitude toCarter G.

Woodson for his vision and commitment to the preservation of

our history. So let us as a people of color remember - they

brought us here, but we did not choose to come; they have and

continued to exploit us, while we are near helpless; and they are

constantly making legislative maneuvers to further restrict our

freedom, economics, and survival.

        But let us never shutter and grow sick at heart for

there yet exit the Almighty God who oversees, controls, and

makes drastic changes in accordance with divine priorities.

Let us, therefore, lift our eyes unto the hills from whence

cometh our help! Amen.


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