United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

"Emancipation, Universal Human Rights,
Our Ever New Year"


Rev. Dr. Ralph Garlin Clingan
December 31, 2017

Dearly beloved!

   President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Ever since then emancipated persons in the United States gather each New Year’s Eve for Watch Night Services, watching for the full realization of emancipation from slavery in equality. Tomorrow marks the 155th anniversary of that momentous event.

   The United Nations issued the Universal Human Rights Statement on December 10, 1948. Next  December we will mark the 70th anniversary of that momentous initiation of our ongoing struggle to realize every one of those Human Rights.

   The public advocacy of the prophetic religions finally played positive roles in those two epic struggles, but only after often violent struggles. The struggles for the liberation of GLBTQT  persons have achieved remarkable results in most European and some Asian nations, while the U.S. still faces hurdles yet to be overcome.

    So let us remember today that God has a controversy with those who resist God’s love of all. Anna and Simeon, the elderly Prophets in today’s Gospel, echo the previous Magnificat of Mary the Mother of Jesus, derived from Hannah’s song on learning she was pregnant with Samuel. The revolutionary change agenda of Hannah’s son is the same as the change agenda of Mary’s son, and repeated by Prophets Anna (Hannah) and Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus. The radical, revolutionary agenda of God to provoke Shalomatic actions in the world is revealed as the heart, soul, mind, and power of the Mosaic Law Code. Without the agenda of love, justice, and peace on this planet, the Mosaic Rites, and, following on from them, the Xian Rites are without God. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called such empty churches Graceless. But Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., 1865–1953, called such churches Godless!

   Rev. Daniel Migliore, PhD, wrote in his book, Faith Seeking Understanding, that any church that does not accept theologies of liberation as authentic manifestations of the Gospel is not a true church of Jesus Christ.

   The resurgence of slavery in North Africa, the persecution of Gays in various parts of our nation, and the persistent white racism in our cultural, social, religious, and economic structures continue to challenge us to evangelize our neighbors with God’s radical agenda. I know this congregation acts in tune with the all liberating love of God, and that we will continue to celebrate this joyful liberation as we come regularly to present ourselves and our future generations to take part in this ever new mission. We will make it so. Allelia! Amen!