Having your church pastor invite Minister Louis Farrakhan to your church will be a thing of the past very soon...Especially after viewing his incredible speech delivered at Rosa Parks' funeral service in Detroit, Michigan.
This is no joke. If you read the transcripts or viewed the live telecast of Parks' funeral service on C-SPAN or CNN or FOX News, you can probably recall Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of Gospel's most celebrated preachers and leaders, not even mentioning the words "Jesus" and "Christ" in his moments of reflection towards the civil rights mogul.
Just to briefly describe the lengthy service held at the gorgeous edifice of Greater Grace Temple, pastored by Bishop Charles Ellis III, it should be called a "superstar showcase full of surprises, twists, courageous preaching and joyous pompstance". Even though the pulpit hosted the superb occasion of an A-List full of dignitatiries from CEOs of mega corporations, politics and civil rights leaders; probably unlike any other funeral service for any public figure, the spotlight reigned on Sister Rosa Parks. Truly, the seven hour long service to many on-lookers would probably faint over the lengthy celebration, but she deserved every ounce of the occasion. If only she received this kind of admiration when she walked amongst us before she departed this reality at the age of 92.
"We know that we will be winning Mrs. Parks "war" when it's yesterday's news when a newly elected governor, senator, or President is a woman or person of color - yesterday's news. We know we will be winning the war when people in the state of Michigan do not have to vote on whether diversity in our university classrooms is a good thing. We know we will see signs that we are winning this war when love overwhelms fear, and acts of quiet strength become our daily bread. So "good night, Mrs. Parks, from the state of Michigan, to our own gently powerful hero. Because by your actions, you have given us our final marching orders. We are enlisted in this war. On behalf of the state of Michigan, ma'am, we are reporting for duty." - Jennifer Granholm (D) State of Michigan Governor
The highlights, plenty to recount, are worthy of being mentioned. And even though former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. senator Hilliary Clinton, MI Governor Jennifer Granholm and former presidential candidate John Kerry praised Parks in its highest degree, the sweat began to pour and the shouts of verbal agreement filled the temple when Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, approached the platform.
"I call upon you today, let's don't stop with this ceremony. You must move from ceremony to sacrament. Sacramental honor means that never again can you let an election pass without getting up and casting your vote. Sacrament means that we must not tolerate homelessness and hunger in the midst of our community. Sacrament means that we know where the weapons of mass destruction are. They are not in Iraq. They're in Detroit and Chicago and Atlanta and Montgomery. That's where the weapons of mass destruction are. 50 million people in this country with no health insurance. That's a weapon of mass destruction. Minimum wage is a weapon of mass destruction." - Joseph Lowery
The preaching continued. Next comes the politically-charged Rev. Al Sharpton.
"I heard somebody say Jim Crow is who she fought, and Jim Crow is still around, but Jim Crow is old. That's not who I'm mindful of today. The problem is that Jim Crow has sons. The one we've got to battle is James Crow, Jr., Esquire. He's a little more educated. He's a little slicker. He's a little more polished. But the results are the same. He doesn't put you in the back of the bus. He just puts referendums on the ballot to end affirmative action where you can't go to school. He doesn't call you a racial name, he just marginalizes your existence. He doesn't tell you that he's set against you, he sets up institutional racism, when you have a nation respond looking for weapons in Iraq that are not there, but can't see a hurricane in Louisiana that is there." - Rev. Al Sharpton
The intensity of the moment grew even more. While mixed emotions flared over the charging speeches given by civil rights icon Sharpton, nervousness filled the atmosphere when Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, approached the microphone. But what the viewing public didn't have in mind what was to come.
"Rosa Parks was chosen from the womb of her mother to do something that will make a change. I like to think of her as a disciple of Christ. Say Farrakhan, what do you know about being a disciple of Christ?"
The congregation responds with laughter while Farrakhan agrees with chuckles of
glee. Truly, a momentous occasion. Of course we all are asking the same
question. But he drives a strong message home afterwards.
"For too many of us know His name, so many of us praise His name, but too few of us are willing to be his disciples. Jesus said "if any man would be my disciple..." He didn't say you had to go to church every Sunday. He didn't say you had to sing in the choir...he must first deny himself, secondly he must pick up his cross and thirdly, follow me."
The tone of his message reflected powerful conviction - something Bishop T.D. Jakes forgot to bring to the stand when his turn approached. Definitely, it was Farrakhan that ignited a fire of new direction, change and prolific restoration to religious communities and helped create a new awareness towards justice and liberation for all people. Something we should be proactive in preaching and living in our everyday lives.
Jakes' message was neatly sown together but it seemed like a safe escape towards acceptance from all walks of life. Bittersweet. Comforting. Gentle. Sly and slick.
"America has lost an icon -- an emblem of freedom and democracy -- but far deeper, Black America has lost a mother. I share my condolences to her immediate family and to all of us who are the privileged offspring of her valiant life's work. Her passing reminds us all that we are fast approaching the end of a most important era in the African-American community. This mighty matriarch of the civil rights movement has left us in body, but her spirit will endure as we watch and wait for the next generation of leaders to stand up, take the torch and lead our children into a new era of brave equality." - T.D. Jakes, The Potter's House, Dallas, TX
On that note, I do believe after those statements, everyone could have gone home feeling good inside.
Strangely, there's not that many sources or links pointing to Louis Farrakhan's speech from the funeral services of Rosa Parks. Maybe due to the fear of Christian believers tapping into the rhetoric from the Nation of Islam leader. But regardless of what, Farrakhan's words definitely fit the bill and serve an important notice to the Christian community. We are behind on alot of things and regardless of what one might say, God can used whomever He sees fits to declare His Word. And He choose to used Farrakhan. And Sharpton. And Rev. Jesse Jackson. And Lowery.
Oh, of course, Rev. Jackson's words were bold and courageous. Reminding us of the horrendous struggle our forefathers had to endure during the civil rights movement and painting imagery of the Emmit Till tragedy that continues to haunt the African-American community. But we can expect that from the high-profiled Rev. Jackson. But for Farrakhan to say the words "Jesus Christ" as many times as he did and for Jakes to escape from using the very name in whom he's made a living off of for years paints an uncanny picture to the Christian community.
Say what you want. Having Minister Farrakhan at a city-wide revival service ain't such a bad idea after all. Coming to a city near you...
More images to view, for your viewing pleasure...
[ROSA PARKS FUNERAL, ETC...]
Should The President Have Been At Rosa Parks Funeral? (BET.com)
T.D. Jakes Spoken Transcript at Funeral