The Rev. Kevin Jones shared a ringing message of resilience and hope based on Galatians 6 during his chapel remarks last week.
Jones, a 2007 PBA graduate, serves as assistant pastor of The Tabernacle Church, where PBA trustee Mami Kisner’s husband, Gerald, is the pastor.
A chorale of PBA Theatre freshmen began the time of worship with the spiritual “Down to the River.” Research suggests the song was composed by an African-American slave.
Jones opened with a story from the pastor of Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. The congregation is mature in years, so when the pastor asked them how they were doing on a Zoom call and was greeted with silence, he assumed they didn’t hear. He asked again, and again was met with silence. Finally, a 98-year-old woman answered him: “Pastor, we’ve been through much worse and we’ll get through this,” Jones shared.
“As we celebrate Black History Month, this is what I’m most proud of about my people — it’s the resilience, it’s the faith, it’s the strength, it’s the perseverance,” Jones said.
Jones’ message, “Keep on keeping on,” was based on Galatians 6:7-9, in which the apostle Paul warns the Galatians that they will reap what they sow and encourages them to not grow tired of doing good, knowing that they will reap a good harvest if they don’t give up.
“What those elders were saying is, ‘We’re going to be alright because we’ve been battle-tested, and we will continue to hold onto God’s unchanging hand,’” Jones said.
Jones acknowledged that even now, times are trying for Black people, who are three times more likely to get COVID-19 and two times more likely to die from it than white people.
He empathized with students who unexpectedly found themselves dealing with masks, hand sanitizer, physical distancing and plastic partitions in addition to the usual challenges of collegiate life. He urged them to continue practicing safety measures until the situation improves.
Getting back to the text, Jones set the context for Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia. The Galatians were turning to a different gospel, “which is no gospel at all.” Judaizers were telling people they had to adhere to Jewish laws and customs. Paul wanted them to know they were justified by faith in Christ alone, Jones said.
“There’s freedom in following Christ,” Jones said. “They didn’t have to resort to following the law.”
However, Jones warned students that they’re going to get out of something what they put into it. For example, if they’re not studying, they shouldn’t expect a good grade.
“If you young people give of your time, talent and treasure only out of selfish ambition, you will not be blessed,” Jones said. “If you sow out of your love for God, if you sow out of your relationship with Jesus, if you sow out of obedience and sacrifice, you will be blessed.”
There will be times in life when it’s tempting to take a shortcut or quit. Instead, “God has called you to be faithful,” Jones said, urging the audience to sow seeds of faith, determination, hard work and success without looking back.
After the sowing, there tends to be a frustrating, difficult period of waiting, Jones said.
“Sometimes it seems like God is not moving, God is not listening, God is not paying attention,” Jones said. “God is moving. God is working. God is working on you. Maybe God wants you to develop a sustained prayer life.”
Jones noted that the King James Version specifies that the reaping comes in due season.
“What the Spirit whispered to me was this: due season equals God’s season,” Jones said. “Due season is not synonymous with your season. It’s not about your timing. It’s about God’s timing.”
The Lord knows where He is leading, and He has our best interests in mind, Jones said. God sees students’ long hours and late nights in the library, struggling to focus. Jones urged students to keep sowing, giving, trusting and believing.
The harvest will come, he assured them.
Photo 1: The Rev. Kevin Jones preaches from Galatians 6 in chapel on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Jones, a 2007 PBA graduate, is assistant pastor of The Tabernacle Church.
Photo 2: The Rev. Kevin Jones makes a point during his chapel remarks. Jones was one of a series of Black History Month speakers.