“Every year, about Oct. 31, I begin a season of prayer and fasting,” said the Rev. Frank Madison Reid III at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday worship service and sermon in the Amphitheater. “I ask God to show me what the theme for my preaching and teaching for the next year should be. The day after Thanksgiving in 2014, he said that 2015 would be a year of great awakening. So wherever I go, my assignment is to tell you that it is time for a great awakening.”
Reid, chaplain for Week Four and the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore, preached on “It’s Time for a Great Awakening — Wake Up Everybody!” His Scripture was Romans 13:11-14.
As he began to preach, Reid said that his father, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor and bishop, told him that a sermon did not have to be eternal to be everlasting and that he should leave the congregation wanting to hear more.
“I have 13 minutes and 14 seconds, starting now,” he said.
Reid asked Jared Jacobsen to play “Yes, God is Real” while he invited the congregation to reach across the aisles, hold hands and pray together. “ ‘There are some things I may not know. There are some places Oh Lord, I cannot go. But I am sure of this one thing, that God is real for I can feel Him in my soul.’ ”
He continued, “I am standing here where Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood and where Booker T. Washington stood, and I tell you, ‘Wake Up Everybody!’ I don’t know what area of your life needs a wake-up call, but we all need to wake up. The world is in the condition it is in because we have gone to sleep.”
Reid said one of his favorite classes at Yale was on the Great Awakening, the religious revivals of the 1740s and 1810s. The First Great Awakening featured the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.
“There was a spiritual revival but also social and political renewal.”
The Second Great Awakening started around 1810 and reached its zenith in the 1840s.
“We have been at our best [as a nation] when we have had a great awakening,” Reid said. “Women’s suffrage and the abolitionists took new form after the Second Great Awakening. The Social Gospel appeared after that. Some people say that after the Montgomery boycott, the Civil Rights Movement became the third great awakening.”
When we look at our nation today, Reid said, with the violence in our underserved neighborhoods and the violence of highly paid professional athletes against women, “we need a great awakening. A sleeping church can’t provide it; a sleeping educational institution can’t provide it. ‘Wake Up Everybody.’ Turn to your neighbor and say ‘wake up.’ ”
“Wake Up Everybody” is a song, written by John Whitehead and Gene McFadden, originally sung by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass and redone recently by John Legend and the Roots.
“With all our great technology, America, with all our wealth, something keeps pulling us back, and we are sleeping through the revolution,” Reid said. “I want to take you to the Book of Romans; it is a wake-up call for the church. Chautauqua is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lutheran House. Luther’s commentary on Romans set the Protestant revolution going. He found that the Word of God belonged to everyone. He sent a wake-up call that changed the world.”
The first 11 chapters of Romans are doctrinal chapters.
“You have to know your faith — to not be ashamed of the Gospel,” Reid said. “Paul is telling the Romans they have something greater than Caesar, and the way they live is determined by their doctrine.”
In Chapter 12, the more practical theology begins. The Romans were to overcome evil with good.
“Paul challenged the irrationality the people faced, that they did things they should not and did not do the things they should,” Reid said.
Paul told them to be subject to the political authorities immediately after he told them not to conform to them.
“How do they do that?” he said. “You have got to know what time it is. You have got work to do, America, in yourselves, your communities and your churches. It is high time to wake up out of sleep, out of our Democratic sleep and Republican sleep, out of our liberal sleep and conservative sleep. Wake up, for the night is far spent. Wake up, for you have work to do. Worship is work and work is worship.”
Your children will be glad that you came to Chautauqua for Week Four, Reid said.
“You came home wiser, better and stronger,” he said. “Wake up and call on Jesus’ name.”
The congregation stood and applauded.
Before he began to preach, Reid gave The Rev. Robert M. Franklin Jr., director of the Chautauqua Institution Department of Religion, a check for $1,000 toward the development of the African-American Denominational House. Franklin presided at the service. John Haughton, a member of the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees and the Slugs softball team, read the Scripture. Jared Jacobsen, organist and worship coordinator, directed the Chautauqua Choir. “We are God’s People” Responsorial Psalm 100 by David Haas, was led by cantors Paul Roberts and Pati Piper. The Chautauqua Choir sang the anthem “Worthy to be Praised” by Byron J. Smith. The offertory anthem was “The Beatitudes” by Craig Phillips based on Matthew 5:3-12.The postludes was Fugue in E-flat, S. 552 (“St. Anne”) by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy provides support for this week’s services.