Food 4 Thought by Marcia Dixon

Celebrate, nurture and encourage love

Valentine’s Day, the time of the year that celebrates all things to do with romantic love, will soon be with us.

Card shops, florists, restaurants, gift shops and more are set to boost their profits from the many couples keen to demonstrate their ‘love’ for each other on February 14, but they have to make sure it’s the right kind of present. Relationships have been known to break up if the Valentine’s gift is not thought to be adequate!

Quite rightly, the area of romantic relationships is a major hot topic within the Black Church community. It has been so for years, due to the large number of Christian singles – mainly women – unable to find love; the increased divorce rate amongst couples who’ve fallen out of love, and the fact that some singles prefer to ignore the biblical directive that sex is for marriage.

It’s important that the Church should and does have something to say on all aspects of relationships, as family relationships form the bedrock of society, with marriage at its core. With this fact in mind, it’s beholden upon the Church to help people build these strong relationships.

Many churches host a range of events for singles, engaged couples and marrieds, but I wonder if they can do more. Should they do more? I think so, especially where the Black community is concerned.

Due to the racism Black people experience, failed relationships and broken families put our community at a greater disadvantage than most. The rise in gangs; the involvement of our youth choosing the ‘road’ life (street code for drug dealing); single parenthood being seen as the norm for family life; mental breakdown and poverty are some of the side effects that can be partly attributed to the failure of brokenness in our relationships.

Educational attainment and entrepreneurism aren’t the only things that need to be nurtured and encouraged to facilitate Black advancement here in the UK. There also needs to be a focus on building strong families, so that our children grow up in environments where they feel loved and protected. The Church can play a part in this: not only in teaching about marriage, but through running workshops and constantly reiterating the qualities required to build healthy relationships, sustain a marriage, and foster a healthy robust family.

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s forget about the commercialisation of the date, and remember the day’s core purpose, which is to celebrate, nurture and encourage love.

Kim Burrell sermon creates tsunami on social media

You may or may not be aware of the furore that has arisen re some comments American gospel singer, Kim Burrell, made about homosexuality, whilst preaching at her church at the end of last year.

A two-minute excerpt of Burrell’s sermon, where she described homosexuality as a ‘perversion’, went viral on social media and has caused uproar and backlash.

The singer, who is featured on the soundtrack for the film, Hidden Colours, was dropped from a scheduled appearance alongside Pharrell Williams on the popular Ellen DeGeneres Show. The BMI (the US equivalent of the PRS) disinvited Burrell from a tribute event they were holding in honour of herself and Marvin Sapp, plus she has been the subject of numerous articles, most of them portraying her comments in a negative light, calling her hateful, judgemental and homophobic -amongst other things. And these are the polite comments.

What this incident and its aftermath highlight is, firstly, that homosexuality remains a contentious issue, particularly when discussed from a traditional Christian perspective and, secondly, that the power of social media is all-pervading.

Burrell’s comments would have remained within the four walls of her church – if someone hadn’t uploaded a video of her preaching online.

So what is the lesson preachers and public speakers should learn from this unfortunate event? That you have to be very careful how you say what God has put on your heart – unless you don’t mind your comments possibly being misconstrued and becoming the centre of a media storm, where you are maligned, criticised and even hated for preaching Scripture.

We made it to 2017 – Give God thanks

If you are reading this column, give God thanks. You’ve lived to see 2017. This is a great achievement, because there are many who didn’t.

Seeing that God has allowed you to live another year, in spite of what may have happened to you last year – the good and the bad – you should ask yourself ‘What do I need to put into place, so that I can live purposefully, intentionally and daringly, and play my part in building God’s Kingdom?’

It’s so easy at the beginning of a new year to list down our goals and work towards them, without truly factoring in God’s possible purpose for our lives. However, if our lives are truly committed to the Lord, whilst making our plans for 2017, always remember the following: ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21).

Have a great 2017.

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