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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Good News in Bad Times

"Beyond Catastrophe" by John Skaggs

This painting was inspired by David James Randolph in "More Candles in the Dark: Going From Heartbreak to Healing"

"The extraordinary action of the first responders is the ground of our hope because it awakens in us the courage to go on with our lives against overwhelming odds because of a love greater than fear."

The Good News is that in Jesus Christ, God meets us in our highest hopes and in our deepest fears. How does this Good News address the bad times of current catastrophe? All of us struggle with this question, and preachers and worship leaders will speak to it in sermons and meditations on Sunday, September 11, 2016 near the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Join us here as we explore this theme with special reference to the Lectionary texts for the day:

Psalm 149
Ezekiel 33:7-11
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

We welcome sermon concerns, art and poetry and comments relating to specific contexts.

Below is David's sermon for the day in first draft.  Your feedback is welcome.

For Sept. 11, 2016 
By David Randolph ©2016
Bible (RCL) Ezekiel 33.7-11, Psalm 149, Romans 13.8-14, Matthew 18.15-20

The good news is that in Jesus Christ God meets us in our highest hopes and in our deepest fears. The real presence of God in Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith and speaks to the heart of human experience personally and socially.

Our highest hopes are expressed in Psalm 149 when God is praised. Our deepest fears are expressed in Ezekiel when all has gone wrong.

In our times human fears are sinking to depths of historic proportions that are truly catastrophic. A “new normal” has emerged since 9/11/2001 bringing us to this catastrophic crisis. Still mourning the South Korea Sewol Ferry disaster that the NY Times called “An epic tragedy”, war after war is breaking out and people are breaking down in unprecedented numbers.

We can bear witness that just when we can not bear it anymore there it is, in the midst of it all, Jesus says “For where two or three are gathered in my name.  I am there among you.” (Matthew)

The name of God is invoked almost universally in catastrophe either for help or to damn and be blamed for it. The Bible offers examples of both but affirms the value of turning go God in prayer, meditation, lamentations, songs and poems and worship.  Current experience demonstrates the enduring value of such from candle light vigils to Makeshift memorials.

That God wills the good is a fundamental of biblical faith from Genesis to the Revelation. This is explicit in Romans 8.28: In everything God works for good with those who love him…”
This assures us of God’s presence in everything that happens but not that everything that happens is God’s will. For example, when children died as reported in Matthew 18.14, some said that it was God’s will. Jesus flatly rejected this claim and declared, “It is NOT the will of your father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Jesus saw that sinful man caused the harm inflicted upon these children and they should be held accountable. 

The death of 304 people mostly children in the sinking of the Sewol ferry of South Korea on April 16, 2014 was overwhelming for the families of those lost the whole nation and indeed the whole world. As more was learned about the disaster tragedy piled upon tragedy in catastrophe that left almost everyone stunned and speechless. A Korean friend of mine told me that then some claimed that the disaster must be the will of God and must be accepted. But others rose up and said No! This is not the will of God and we will not just accept it. We must find what and who caused this disaster, hold them accountable and in honor of these lost do everything to see that such disasters do not happen again. By late July some three months after the disaster the underlying source of the disaster was the business tycoon who put profit above safety for the vessel. He was finally found dead and dishonored. The nation still mourns as it continues to seek justice but it does so with the assurance that God is present to comfort not punish them.  All around the world people join their South Korean brothers and sisters in prayer and support and gratitude for helping us see that it is not the will of God that one child shall perish. 

This advances our understanding. Not everything that happens is God’s will but nothing that happens can ultimately defeat God’s will. Lesley Weatherhead who was a chaplain in WWI and ministered in London through the blitz of WWII remains a great advocate of this truth. Again and again he saw the forces of destruction devastating the people and the places, the nation and the church he loved. But again and again and again he saw the Creator at work with co-creative forces until from tragedy came triumph and the forces of liberty prevailed. A powerful symbol of this lay in the ruins of the church that was bombed when it was celebrating its Harvest Home Thanksgiving service. Everything seemed lost and many gave up hope. Then, spring came and the altar burst into bloom with flowers whose seeds had lain dormant under the ashes. The words of the prophet proved true, God gave beauty for ashes.  As declared, “God makes even the wrath of men to please him.”
Throughout history evil cries in a loud voice but God has he last word. This is our faith. 

The First Responders, rescue workers, fire fighters, police, chaplains and religious leaders and others who risked their lives and in many cases lost them to save others greatly inspire us from 9/11/2001. They challenge our common value that the purpose of life is to succeed with the uncommon value that the greater purpose of life is to serve. Greater love is to lay down our lives for our friend. The heroes of 9/11/2001 and other disasters awaken the Hero and Heroine in our own souls and lives everyday.

None of us can be mere spectators to catastrophe. We are either on the side of the builders or that of the bombers. The image of suicide bombers with explosives bound to their bodies is chilling. They are willing to die for heir faith. Are we willing to live for ours? Babies were being born even as the buildings we burning. They are signs of new life.  We must lift them up for blessing not for burning by consecrating ourselves anew to the way of sacred love. We have the resources. Now we must find the will to follow the Way.

This is a challenge that seems overwhelming but we dare to undertake it because we are not alone. As the Gospel for the day reminds us Wherever two or three are gathered in His name Jesus Christ is in our midst. And the Gospel for everyday is that in Jesus Christ God meets us in our highest hopes and in our deepest fears.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

* * *


Breaking News:
"Songs Unchanged,
Yet Ever-Changing:
50 Hymn Texts"
by Jacque B. Jones,
GIA Publications, Inc.,
7404 S. Mason Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60638 

esp. page 110 "We Look Upon Our Enemies"

1) "On the Way After 9/11: New Worship and Art" by David James Randolph

Sermons, meditations, affirmations and art.

New Way Media
Available from Amazon

2) "World of Change" edited by David Madgalene

Poetry and meditations.

New Way Media
Available from Amazon

3)  "On the Way After 9/11" movie 
(approximately 2-and-a-half minutes)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Painting by John Skaggs
 ARTISTS ANSWER 9/11 2001-2012.

Painters, photographers, poets and writers present a weekend 
of visual art, poetry, music and literary appreciation. 
Hosts and MC’s: 
David James Randolph, David Madgalene and Rev. Dr. Sam Parks. 
Artists and presenters: 
Don Hazen, Mollie Hazen, Kirk Lumpkin, John Skaggs, 
Rebecca Skaggs, and Lyn Talkovsky.
Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9, 2012.
Saturday, September 8, 2012: 2 pm to 6 pm.
Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm.
Saturday and Sunday Free and Open to the Public. Donations accepted.
Friday, September 7, 2012: 5:15 pm to 7:30 pm (By invitation).
The Albany United Methodist Church, 
980 Stannage Ave. (at Marin Ave.; one block off Solano Ave.),
 Albany, California 94706.
Sponsors include the Center for the Arts, Religion and Education (CARE), affiliated with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU).
Contact: David Madgalene, davidra @

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Media Fest Host Remembers March on Washington

by David James Randolph, Founder and Host of the New Way Media Fest in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I first crossed paths with John Lewis when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and again in Selma in 1965. When we met in California in 2009 it was to give thanks for the march thus far and to commit ourselves to march on in God's Great Parade for love and justice for all.  
 The March on Washington in 1963 was the outward and visible sign of the inner and spiritual transformation, which would change the world through one of history's greatest events. This leads to the March from Washington which for me meant back home to New Jersey and to jail in Jackson Mississippi in 1964 and the Bridge in Selma Alabama in 1965 with the landmark legislation which continued to change the world until June 25, 2013 when it was nullified in effect by the Supreme Court.  The greatness of the March on Washington in 1963 is that it symbolizes the universal quest for freedom while embodying the specific accomplishments of an objective historical event and movement for individuals and society.
         Back on the bus afterwards in conversation with Drew University colleague John Godsey and others, we agreed that Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream speech summed up the day. I was not surprised by this but by the over-whelming spectacle of the event, especially the music of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary and Mahalia Jackson that lifted us so high. To his day I can hear the voice of Joan Baez soaring like the soul above he crowd. Suddenly those of us who can do so little alone believe we can do everything together, and a consciousness begins to form that we can change he world. The torch of Pres. Kennedy is passed to a new generation of Americans. Here is a new frontier and we are on it.
All this coalesces in an invisible energy supply, which will fuel us as we go back home and beyond. Lessons learned then have meaning now. In the face of overpowering odds the action of a committed minority can transform society. Religious leaders can provide the spiritual and moral foundations for action while religious and educational institutions can inform and mobilize people. Media can draw attention to injustice and bring pressure for change. The President of the United States can use his “bully pulpit” as did John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Legislators can pass better laws, courts justly interpret them and police humanely enforce them. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when called upon by true leaders. As we face new challenges it is good to know that history is transformed not only in those shining events when the victors enter the city but also in those shadowy moments when people commit themselves to the Cause whatever the outcome. (The above is an excerpt from “The Great Parade: Life, Love, Work” by David James Randolph available from

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


In photo above, Mayor Koch (L) and David Randolph (R) are seen on Sept. 21, 1986 at Gracie Mansion. Photo by Susan Rymshaw, courtesy of Mayor Koch

Ed Koch was a great listener and that is why he was a great leader,” said David Randolph, minister of Christ United Methodist Church during Koch’s tenure. “When he asked, how am I doing? He listened to your answer,” adds Dr. Randolph who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he hosts the New Way Media Fest. Dr. Randolph, who received his PhD from Boston University and taught at Drew University in New Jersey, cites his visit to Gracie Mansion in 1986 when he spoke about the problem of drugs in the city.  Mayor Koch listened to religious leaders and with Cardinal O’Connor and others formed an interfaith force to deal with the drug problem on which Randolph served. This expanded into action that helped lay the foundation of the transformation of the city from the crime and chaos of that time. Randolph recalls that the United Methodist City Society of the New York Annual Conference played an important role then with John Carrington as Director as it as it does now with William Shilladay as Director. Randolph’s sermon “New Heaven, New Earth, New York” along with other sermons preached at the time is included in his book “Credit Card Christ” published recently and available at More will be added on Mayor Koch, Joey Adams and others who helped make the new New York in Randolph's forthcoming autobiographical work, "The Great Parade."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Included here are the sermons of which a seminary president said, "Every page of this book shows what it is about David Randolph that makes for his well-deserved reputation as a superbly communicative preacher," and a popular New York entertainer said, "This book by David Randolph is entertaining and joyful. Read it and it will love the hell out of you and bring you closer to God." What has Jesus Christ got to do with our credit cards? The title sermon of this collection addresses this question in a current expression of David James Randolph's lifelong effort to relate the central affirmations of the Christian faith to the central issues of our time. 

List Price: $20.00
8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm) 
Black & White on White paper
204 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1470083670
ISBN-10: 1470083671

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Save Albany Hill

Save Albany Hill

© by David James Randolph, Albany resident, at Albany United Methodist Church, January 22, 2012 in his sermon “Credit Card Christ” (available from Amazon March 2012).

Photograph of Monarch Butterfly at Albany Hill by Jef Poskanzer

Our community is facing a major choice right now as the City Council begins plans to put a cell tower for wireless communications on public property, including Albany Hill, in return for money. Will we allow the monarch businesses to crush the monarch butterflies? We will serve the God of mammon or the God of creation. Putting a cell tower on Albany Hill is like crucifying nature for a handful of silver. It is Albany Hill beauty or corporation profit, and we the people must cry out, “Save Albany Hill!”

If not, we will have sold out the last green hill on the coast of the East Bay for a fistful of dollars. This is a question of values: is money more important than our environment? Will we sacrifice beauty for bounty? Putting a cell tower on Albany Hill will drive a stake through the heart of our community. This must not happen. We must end the effort to destroy Albany Hill before it destroys us. To our city council, to ATT and anyone else who wants to put a cell tower on Albany Hill, we the people of Albany say “No! Save Albany Hill!”