The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III easily drew a standing ovation from the Northwest Philadelphia crowd at the culmination of his sermon recently. This was the second in the Urban Theological Institute’s annual “Preaching with Power” series. It drew hundreds to the sanctuary of the Grace Baptist Church that sits on the Germantown and Mount Airy border in the heart of Northwest Philadelphia.
Moss took the audience through a bit of maritime history. In “Ships That Never Sail” he shared his conversations with sailors about how they can predict that a boat won’t sail or will sink. They listed lacking “a tight tabernacle to hold the mass,” pirates who plundered the ship, and an inexperienced crew. His sermon came from 1 Kings 22:48.
“Jehoshaphat came into power cleaning up a mess of a previous administration,” Moss said. “You need to read the text to see that when he inherited this problem the kingdom was divided between the north and south. He had to take a stand to turn everything around and some tried to blame him for the economic mess of the previous administration.
The guest preacher then went on to explain that some wanted to get rid of Jehoshaphat even though he was putting into place things to return the economy to viability. He said they were intent on even “sinking the ship” if to insure that Jehoshaphat did not receive the credit for the economic recovery.
“So there is another reason ships can sink. This is because of sabotage,” Moss said. He said that every sailor is aware that sabotage is always possible. Yet when the ship is sunk they also know that they can salvage parts of the old ship and build a new one. These are the “redeemer” ships because they carry salvaged portions. “Salvation and salvage has the same root word, so a saved ship is called redeemed.”
Moss culminated his sermon by pointing out that while pirates will sometimes be successful in sinking a ship, they cannot stop those who salvage them. He said the broken piece of the redeemer ship is a testimony that it was once broken and had been renewed. “Don’t try to cover up or stuff because you have been redeemed,” Moss said.
“Dr. Moss was right on time,” said Brenda Jones of Mount Airy. “I feel redeemed for real. He could not have said it better. This is the first time I heard him speak, though I’ve heard of him. Originally I was disappointed Rev. Jeremiah Wright wasn’t going to be at Grace again. But, I can see why Dr. Moss replaced him at Trinity Church in Chicago because he’s on point about the politics of today.”
William Robinson of Germantown agreed. He said he planned to attend a few of this year’s UTI “Preaching with Power” programs sponsored by the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. “I think that his sermon was a wake up call for Northwest Philadelphia for 2012. It’s a call to action, a call to vote, and a call to get off sinking ships or salvage the ship you’re in. It’s time to stand up even when obstacles like the Voter ID bill comes our way,” Robinson said.
The “Preaching with Power” series opened at the Janes United Methodist Church in Germantown on Sunday, March 18. Other events that were part of the series was a lecture on the African American church by Dr. Eddie Glaude at LTSP’s Brossman Center on Tuesday, March 20 at 11:15 a.m. followed by the preaching of the Rev. Dr. Kevin Dudley at Reformation Lutheran Church, 1215 E. Vernon Rd. in East Mount Airy that evening at 7 p.m.
A “Black Sacred Music Concert” was also held at LTSP Schaeffer-Ashmead Chapter in Mount Airy on Wednesday, March 21 at 11:15 a.m. Additionally, the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, 6401 Ogontz Ave. in West Oak Lane, hosted the series that evening at 7 p.m.