Search This Blog

Saturday, February 24, 2018

EULOGY FOR ANITA M. MCGREW: Try to Keep Up

The eulogy for Mrs. Anita M. McGrew, beloved matriarch and member of Miles Chapel CME Church.


The title is:  TRY TO KEEP UP.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BEING JOSEPH


Blogging Genesis 39:20–41:46

Genesis 39: 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.


Joseph was a foreign slave declared guilty of the attempted rape of Potiphar’s wife; and Potiphar didn’t immediately execute and/or castrate him?  Instead he used his position as captain of the guard to have incarcerated in the KING’s prison.    The rest of chapter 39 doesn’t depict the prison as particularly cruel.  The inmates seemed to have a great deal of freedom, like it was a minimum-security, country-club prison.  Which implies that  Potiphar retained some sympathy for his house-slave and possibly some doubt about his wife’s testimony.   Goes to show that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).  Goes to show that when God’s on your side they can’t break you even when they want to.


Even while locked up, “the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39: 21).  Joseph was transferred from general population to work detail as one of the warden’s  household slaves.  In that capacity, Joseph ran the prison, but something  inside him was changing.

When Israel-Jacob promoted Joseph above his brothers the teenage manager exalted himself, bragging about his dreams of the family bowing down before him.  When he got the promotion in Potiphar’s house, Joseph attributed his rise to master’s good judgment and trusted in his good evaluations and company loyalty to protect him from sexual harassment, false accusations, and racial profiling. But by the time he began running the king’s prison, Joseph didn’t want another promotion.  He didn’t want the praise of people who didn’t care about him but only what profits he could generate.   

By the turning point in Genesis 40,  Joseph was WOKE to the injustice of the system in which he operated.   “I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon” (Genesis 40:15). 

In other words, Joseph said, “Yeah, I’m in the big house, but they still see me as a slave and a prisoner,” so “Remember me,”  he begged the cupbearer (Genesis 40:23). 


Meanwhile, he worked.  He worked for the man who kept him in dual bondage, and he endured being un-remembered by those to whom he had ministered in their time of distress.  Joseph no longer wanted to be promoted.  Joseph wanted to be FREE.


Years passed and Joseph was called to demonstrate his prophetic skills for the most powerful man in Egypt.  But Joseph had changed.  He wasn’t about self-promotion anymore.  To the contrary, he told the king of Egypt,  “It is not in me.”  He directed all the praise to “God,” whom Joseph affirmed, “will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”
The son of Israel’s old arrogance was displaced by irreverence for “great” masters like the king of the Nile.   Twice, Joseph said, “God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do,” which is kinda like saying, “Duuh.  Isn’t it obvious?  I mean,” Joseph continued, “the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41: 25, 28, 32)

Get ready.  A twist is coming.

Joseph then outlined an ingenious plan to prepare Egypt for the coming economic downturn, and again an Egyptian promoted him; but this promotion elevated Joseph above his former masters and all masters in Egypt.  Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife, making him a full Egyptian citizen (Genesis 41:39-45).  That’s not the twist.

Here’s the twist: Joseph got free, but he didn’t even try to go home. 

He could have asked Pharaoh for a chariot to take him back to Canaan to rejoin his family and prepare them for the famine.  He could have sent for his father and baby brother to come stay with him in Egypt.   Joseph could have reconnected with his tribe any number of ways, but he didn’t. 

He was finally free but his old family was as dead to him and he had been made to them.
 Image result for you think you're free
Promotion doesn’t mean you’re free.  Sometimes, neither does freedom.   

Yes, ultimately God brought them all back together.  But their re-unification, still years away at this point, would not undo decades of estrangement.  Joseph was going to be prime minister of the most powerful empire on the planet and he was still so wounded by his brothers’ betrayal that he turned his back on everything in his Hebrew culture --- except God.

WE are Joseph.

Black in America.  Residents by enslavement.  Citizens by struggle.  They have exploited our skills.  They have claimed our bodies for their entertainment.  They have jailed us unjustly. 

WE are Joseph.

We have struggled for promotion and for freedom in times and contexts where one had to be sacrificed for the other.    

WE are Joseph.

Our ancestral names and nations are dead to us.  Still, we dream through music and movies of re-unification with our motherland.  But the years of estrangement have stretched so long, and there are problems in this land that require our attention.  Here where we are citizens, named and known, are crises we can solve. 

WE are Joseph.

So, we do what we do.  We do our jobs, and we throw shade, and we speak truth to power and despite ourselves we get promoted because we are that gifted. 

WE are Joseph.

We gave up everything of who we were, but we kept our faith.  Tattered and misattributed as Black Christianity is, we keep the faith of our unconquered fathers because WE are Joseph.

YOU are Joseph.

Remember yourself.

Remember how God kept you. 

Remember that before you started helping Pharaoh realize his dream, God gave you dreams of your own.

Remember that the God you have not forgotten has not forgotten you. 

YOU are Joseph. 

Go be great.
 Image result for remember who you are
--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064


Monday, February 19, 2018

BUILD YOUR OWN

Movies say that God spent 40 days and 40 nights explaining the 10 Commandments to Moses.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Scriptures says that God spent 40 days explaining a set of blueprints.  God called Moses up on the mountain to deliver a design that transformed the future of a band of homeless ex-slaves in the wilderness.  

Take a look at the plans from the mountaintop and listen to the lesson they teach for this moment in our community, this moment in your life.

The message is:  BUILD YOUR OWN.


Listen well and please leave a comment.


If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Sunday, February 11, 2018

HOW SOON THEY FORGET

A message from Exodus 24 about flashbacks, and a people in trouble, and what God said when he took you to the mountaintop. 

The title is:  HOW SOON THEY FORGET.


Listen well and leave a comment.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, AL 35064

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

JUSTICE FOR BOTH: Lessons from Dinah & Joseph


Blogging Genesis 34 & 39

In the first book of the Bible, God directly addresses sexual assault in the community of faith.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the author of Genesis recorded the stories of a sister and her brother who were separately victims of the two extremes of injustice in sexual assault cases.  Their names were Dinah and Joseph and they were children of the man God named Israel.

Genesis 34 tells Dinah’s story.  She was raped, and the justice system of village fathers did nothing.  Nothing to give the girl justice.   But the powerful men, including Dinah’s father,  who controlled the system did much to protect and legitimize Dinah’s attacker because he was the son of a rich and powerful man. (http://andersontgraves.blogspot.com/2017/12/dinahs-story-sexual-assault-of-israels.html )


Genesis 39 tells how Dinah’s brother Joseph was sexually harassed by his master’s wife.  Being an honorable man, Joseph resisted and refused the rich and privileged woman’s advances.  Being a slave, his honor was of little concern to his master’s wife. One day, when the big house was empty, she physically assaulted Joseph.  She ripped off his clothes and tried to rape him but Joseph escaped.  Well, not really.

Joseph’s assailant accused him of trying to rape her, and the Egyptian justice system did nothing.  Nothing to discover the truth.  Potiphar, Joseph’s master exercised the authority of judge and jury over Joseph, and with that authority he sent Joseph to federal prison for a crime he didn’t commit. 

By linking these stories to siblings in the holy family of the Old Testament, God challenges the church to answer how we can order our response to accusations of sexual assault so that we don’t commit the injustice of Dinah or the injustice of Joseph. 


In answer to God's challenge, I propose 6 principles:
1. First, call the cops or whatever legal authority applies.
Christians are commanded to consider ourselves and admit our weaknesses.  We must admit that no church is properly equipped to handle sexual crime in-house.

If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses (Deuteronomy 17:8 )
God has chosen to raise up and allow secular authority.  Every officer of the court is human and imperfect, but “he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

Church leaders should consider themselves mandatory reporters of abuse whether the abuse is alleged to involve children or only adults.

2.  Protect the weak instead of “protect your own.”
For many reasons, even when the authorites have been notified, the church may still have to  conduct an internal investigation.  When that happens, church leaders must resist the impulse to shield those most like us from scrutiny while  exposing the “other” to attack.

Instead we should follow the Biblical principle of protecting which ever party is less powerful. 

Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:3-4)

Now don’t confuse protecting those with less power with protecting those with the most to lose.  Potiphar’s wife had farther to fall, but Joseph had less power.  A deacon accused of a sexual crime may risk more status than the anonymous girl making the accusation, but the anonymous girl is more vulnerable to intimidation, coercion, and mob justice.  So, we who are strong, must give her the security necessary to complete the process safely and fairly.  This doesn’t mean we decide whom to believe.  It means we decide whom to shield  Protecting the weak from the strong doesn’t mean believing the weak over the strong.   The first answer is to level the field so that the weaker party has the same security and freedom to make their case. 

By this principle, in Genesis 34, we would have given extra care and security to  Dinah, an unmarried woman in a patriarchal culture.  In Genesis 39, we would shield Joseph, a foreign slave in an aristocratic Egyptian household. 

3.  Give both parties equal voice.   
Joseph speaks often in Genesis 39 --- until he’s accused of rape.  From then (Genesis 39:14) until the next chapter, Joseph says nothing.  Chapter 34 is about what happened to Dinah, but she has no lines of dialogue in the entire drama.  The church should not shush either side of the case. 


You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s (Deuteronomy 1:17).

By this standard, we would have given Dinah’s  and Joseph’s words equal space in the record.

4.  Don’t equate class with credibility.
In Genesis 34 & 39 began when the judges closed rank the party who most represented “us” (wealthy man like “us”; free Egyptian like “us”). 

You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:15)

The church will have to discern truth from fabrication, but we must never look at their appearance or their past and say, “You can’t believe someone like THAT.” 

5.  Keep justice free and unafraid.
Father Israel failed his daughter because he was afraid of becoming “obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land . . . since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I” (Genesis 34:30).  He wanted to save his hide and his business. 

Mrs. Potiphar invoked racial fear as if it were evidence of wrongdoing. “She called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, ‘See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us.’ ” (Genesis 34:14).


The truth may cost a church in donations, membership, and standing in the community.  Justice may make us “obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land” and open us to further claims of liability by those who “gather themselves together against” us.   A “little” cover-up can be tempting. 

It’s tempting to structure the process to favor whomever can get more donations to their legal fund.  A few fees for administrative costs, a choice of venue far away and expensive, a hearing schedule that requires somebody take days off from a job and someone may have to drop their case.


God says: You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous (Deuteronomy 16:19)

A free and unafraid church would’ve heard Dinah’s attacker confess to the crime and then turned him over to the police.  A free and unafraid church would have heard Joseph’s testimony and investigated the whole story.

6.  Tell the truth and shame the devil. 
Satan, the enemy of the church, rejoices when we mishandle sexual crimes.  No matter what the final outcome, the very fact of an allegation means that something bad has happened.   Nothing short of time travel will undo that bad thing that happened in the church.   

The truth starts the process of Christ’s healing.  Anything other than the truth hands the process over to Satan to use to steal, kill, and destroy the church from the inside. 

Don’t give our enemy the chance.

These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace (Zechariah 8:16).


--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064