Sing to the Lord a new song

Prophetic poems of praise

By Thomas W. Spann

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SING TO THE LORD A NEW SONG - Front Cover

About The Book

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In this book, Thomas Spann has given creative thought to balancing
personal praise with a prophetic proclamation in the form of poetry.
Perhaps an interested and creative musician might be motivated to
compose music to accompany these lyrics. These poems cover a wide
range of social and personal life happenings, including Juneteenth,
protest marches, violence, and personal faith challenges.

He hopes that these poetic offerings will inspire the reader to find her
or his own poetic voice in the interest of uniting the two that belong
together—personal faith and social justice. The book concludes with a
the piece, written in poetry and prose, that he considered as a potential
title, The Grace of Something More.

Have you ever given thought to more balance in Christian praise music in terms of the spiritual and the social?

Have you ever desired fresh poetry and music that integrated current events and themes with traditional gospel claims?

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What’s inside

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Preface

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GOD IS ON THE MOVE

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WINDS OF CHANGE

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LET EVERY SERMON SING OF JUSTICE

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MORE THAN A NUMBER

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IN THE WRECKAGE OF OUR TIMES

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NEVER IN OUR LIFETIME

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WHERE IS GOD IN THAT?

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HOW DO I GET UP FROM HERE?

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... and more Prophetic poems of praise to read about

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About the Author

Prophetic Poems of Praise

God Is On the Move

God is on the move
making crooked places straight unveiling words of truth
lifting bowed down heads.

God is on the move
let justice be our cry let peace be our prayer
let our minds and hearts agree.

God is on the move
tearing down walls of empire dismantling ancient building blocks of The System’s unholy power and opening paths to life and liberty.

God is on the move
let every church be bold to make every day count today the struggle; tomorrow the victor’s praise.”

Winds of Change

Winds of change are blowing
blowing across every nation rich or poor
poor in spirit are still blessed
blessed to be in the Kingdom of God.

Winds of change are turning
turning heads and hearts to God
God is in the midst of it all
all the length of life this day.
Winds of change are challenging
challenging the old to begin anew
a new nation, a new world
world of changes for the good.

Winds of change are rising
rising in the sanctuary
sanctuary now be free
free to march and work for liberty.

Winds of change are searching
searching for wrong in high places
places where the poor put their trust
trust in God and make it real.”

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Prophetic Poems of Praise

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Preface:

In the Book of Psalms (33:3, 40:3, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1), the Book of Isaiah (42:10), and the Book of Revelation (5:9) there are affirmations of “a new song.” Psalm 98:1 states why the summons is given to sing a new song: “for he has done marvelous things.” The call to sing a new song is not a perfunctory expression. The psalmist is sincerely inviting the community of faith to blend new experiences and insights with the familiar themes of Israel’s faith. God’s marvelous deeds reveal the changing face of divine grace. God’s grace is never static or stale. Each time persons of faith encounter a new experience of grace, there is, in truth, in the encounter, a summons to compose and sing of God’s ever-present and ever-fresh love and presence in the human story.

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I feel my help coming

A Volume of Sermons

By Thomas W. Spann

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Cover I Feel My Help Coming

About The Book

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The title of this book is derived from traditional African American oratory. This collection of sermons comes out of Thomas Spann’s fifty-plus years of preaching the gospel. These sermons witness to the liberating presence of God in a variety of human life experiences. Thomas Spann offers this book to the Church in the assurance that the “help” expressed in the preacher’s sermon continues to be available to readers of these sermons. Thomas Spann believes that these written sermons can still offer comfort and challenge as the reader opens her or his heart to the living God. God’s Word is never left void or without a witness. It is Thomas Spann’s hope that additional insights will come to the reader of each sermon, whether in personal reflections or a vibrant study group. A study guide is included for personal reflection or small group discussion. The study guide is divided into the following sections: Text, Sermon, Personal Growth, Social Implications, Deeper Theological Considerations, and Further Study.

“While there are unique responses from the pew, there are also phrases in pulpit oratory that have stood the test. Some of these expressions include: “Can I get a witness?,” “Ain’t God good?,” “Help me, Holy Ghost,” and “Ain’t He alright?” One expression that used to be a standard part of pulpit oratory but is infrequently heard today is, “I feel my help coming.”

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What’s inside

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Dedications

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Preface

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Acknowledgments

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Old Testament Chapters: 10 Sermons

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New Testament Chapters: 15 Sermons

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Study Guide

  • Text
  • Sermon
  • Personal Growth
  • Social implications
  • Deeper theological considerations
  • Further study
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About the Author

Chapter 1

Raising the Standards

Numbers 2:2, 3, 10, 18 and 25

Verse 2: “The Israelites shall camp by their respective[standards]…they shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.”

Verse 3: “On the east side toward the sunrise shall be the [standard] of the camp of Judah…”

Verse 10: “On the south side shall be the [standard] of the camp of Reuben…”

Verse 18: “On the west side shall be the [standard] of the camp of Ephraim…”

Verse 25: “On the north side shall be the [standard] of the camp of Dan…”

At this point in the book of Numbers, the Israelites have been encamped in the wilderness of Sinai since the third month after the exodus. They are gathered according to tribes, with three tribes each occupying one of the cardinal points on the compass. Thus, there are three tribes in the east with a standard, three in the south with a standard, three in the west with a standard, and three in the north with a standard, all encircling the tent of meeting, which was the symbolic place of meeting God.

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Preface:

Congregational feedback is standard fare in a traditional African American church. Pew oratory is integral to the heightened experience of praising God. Speaking aloud (to each other, the preacher, and God) makes the Word become flesh, abiding in joyful tones and sometimes in expressions of anguished expectations. No one is expected to sit still in a dynamic worship experience. Inviting and experiencing God’s presence is the work of the whole congregation.

Several phrases in the pew vocabulary of worship are well known. When I served as the pastor of the First Christian Methodist Evangelistic Church in Dallas, I could always expect to hear someone in the choir urge the preacher on by saying, “You betta preach!” Other expressions from the pew include: “ Say it,” “Come on with it,” “Let the Lord use you,” and “Stay right there.” Every worshiper in the Black church (church member or not) intuits the freedom to say “Amen” and to witness to a truth or an insight carved out of life experiences.

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A Necessary Transition

A Book of Sermons

By Thomas W. Spann

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Thomas W Spann - First Sunday - Front Cover

About The Book

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Most of the sermons in this collection were delivered at either St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas or at the First Christian Methodist Evangelistic Church in Dallas, Texas. Having been tested before live audiences and critiqued by loving friends, Thomas Spann offers them partial fruits of his fifty years in the preaching ministry. He contends that every sermon is a “great” sermon if it falls on fertile soil and matures in the life of receptive disciples of Jesus Christ. Thomas Spann’s prayer is that these sermons be received by the reader in a way that invites intellectual, spiritual, moral, and personal growth. 

A Necessary Transition – A Book of Sermons contains twenty-six sermons for personal devotion and small group study. This volume begins with the sermon titled “A Necessary Transition” and concludes in celebration with the well-received sermon simple titled. “O”.

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What’s inside

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Preface

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Acknowledgments

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Chapter 1: Seasons of Change

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Chapter 2 : Questions

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Chapter 3: Imperatives

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Chapter 4: Home

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Chapter 5: A Different Approach

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Chapter 6: Prophetic Insights

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Chapter 7: Celebration

Chapter 1

A Necessary Transition 

John 6:16-21

Life is filled with transitions. Nations go through transitions in political leadership. America went through a major transition when Senator Barack Obama was elected to the office of the president. South Africa went through a transition from white majority rule to a multiracial democracy under the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Transitions take place in the workplace as employees are promoted or downsized or there is a major reorganization. Colleges and universities undergo transitions each year as new students are enrolled or as some faculty members retire and others are hired. Churches go through transitions with new pastors or new forms of administrative governance.

Some transitions are smooth; others can be quite stormy. Many churches have experienced difficulties in transitioning from one set of officers or leaders to another. There are church lay leaders who have been in office for a number of years but are not ready to relinquish their hold on power. This, of course, leads to tensions in the effort to transition to new leaders.

Transitions occur in the personal life of faith, also. To come to a deeper faith in Jesus sometimes means having to struggle. We are often faced with struggles in faith in the face of a major loss, such as a death of a loved one, a major health crisis, an unexpected layoff, or a scandal in the life of a revered spiritual leader. The text that is before us presents an experience of struggle in the life of the disciples.

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Many times during my fifty years of preaching I have been invited and encouraged to write a book of sermons. Having written two other books, I consider this work to be the most challenging and humbling. I have hesitated because preaching is essentially the word of God orally proclaimed in a context of worship. I am a manuscript preacher. If the sacred word of God on paper is preached to a live audience, is it any less relevant and reachable in print? I have come to the position that the sermon verbally presented in worship can have relevance and reachability in print as the reader brings to the printed sermons an open mind and an open heart. God continues to speak long after the preacher has sat down.

First Sunday

Reflections on Ministry Experiences in the Black Church

By Thomas W. Spann

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Thomas W Spann - First Sunday - Front Cover

About The Book

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Have you ever wondered about the origin and meaning of some of the practices and rituals of the church? Have you ever paid attention to how the Lord’s Supper is presented in traditional Black Baptist churches? Are there church protocols that are invisible until you cross one? Have you ever considered the features of Black Church funerals? These questions and considerations are carefully addressed in this easy-to-read exploration of the worship life in many Black churches.

In First Sunday: Reflections on Ministry Experiences in the Black Church, Dr. Spann explores his own experiences growing up in the Pine Bluff Baptist Church in Karnack, Texas. From these experiences and others, he extrapolates themes and nuances that help to understand some of the whys behind what we do. Thomas Spann leads readers through detailed commentaries on the relationship between the Black Church and its community, the Lord’s Supper, Special Days, and features of Black Church funerals. He offers a helpful study guide for personal use and for discussions in small groups.

 

Study Guide: I have included a Study Guide that can be used individually or in small discussion groups. It can be amended by the user in deepening reflections on the significance of many church experiences, practices, and expressions. The user is encouraged to look at her or his church life in light of the guiding questions.

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What’s inside

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Preface

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Excerpts from Deeds

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Acknowledgments

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Chapter 1: Pine Bluff Baptist Church

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Chapter 2 The Lord’s Supper or “Circament” Sunday

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Chapter 3: Cultural Practices and Expressions

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Study Guide

Chapter 1

Pine Bluff Baptist Church Background 

Pine Bluff Baptist Church is located about seven miles northeast of Marshall on the Stagecoach Road, also called the Pine Bluff Road. It sits down in a flat that once was crowned by towering pines, thus the name Pine Bluff. The Stagecoach Road, along which the church sits, was once the transportation artery between Shreveport, Louisiana and Marshall, Texas. The actual mailing location of the church is Karnack, a small town on Port Caddo Lake.

Many Black churches that were organized after slavery began in brush arbors, a structure built from surrounding tree branches and natural foliage. There are examples of Black churches in the south that were named after surrounding trees such as cedars and oaks; (e.g., Cedar Grove, Live Oak, Oak Grove, Blooming Grove). No surviving records exist to substantiate where the first pioneers of Pine Bluff Baptist Church met. Due to the abundance of pine and sweet gum trees in the area, it is conceivable that Pine Bluff Baptist Church was organized and started in a brush arbor or in an abandoned hay barn owned by an organizing family. Some of the early families in the surrounding area included: the Singletons, the Harrises, the Connors, the Campbells, and the Jacksons.

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I begin the book with Pine Bluff Baptist Church in Karnack, Texas as the window through which I am looking, not only at particular practices and expressions in this church but in the Black Church in general. Pine Bluff has a special place in my heart since it is the church where I was baptized and acknowledged my call to ministry over fifty years ago. What is said here about Pine Bluff could be said about neighboring rural churches in Karnack or Leigh, Texas, but I use Pine Bluff because of my personal relationship with it and because it has had such a powerful influence in shaping my ministry.

When Theological Reflection Goes To Church

By Thomas W. Spann

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When Theological Reflection Goes to Church by Thomas Spann - Digital

About The Book

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Have you ever given serious thought to who God is and what God is doing in the world? Have you ever wondered what God’s deepest dream is for humankind and creation? That kind of thinking is theological reflection, and when the Church engages in this deeper level of thinking, the faith community begins to look at the connection of the Church’s actions in relationship to the gospel.

When Theological Reflection Goes to Church is a practical blueprint that explores the DNA of the Black Church – from historic and cultural worship styles to how deeper reflection strengthens the Church. Thomas Spann leads the reader through thought-provoking essays, scenarios, and discussion questions that can be explored in small groups, Bible studies, and even as a means to “an introduction” to seminary education. He offers a proposal for the Black Church to create an Academy of Christian Theological Studies as a way to bridge Black theology and ministry of the Church.

 

“…. In moments when we are tempted to separate spiritual praise and social witness, heart and head, bring us to our senses so that we may be the whole persons that you have created us to be.”

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What’s inside

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Essay #1: Thinking Theologically

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Essay #2: Theological Reflection as a Discipline for Prophetic/Public Theologians

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Essay #3: Theological Reflection as Listening for the Sound of The Genuine

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Essay #4: Leading from a Place of Deep Christian Theological Reflection

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Essay #5: Worship as a Model for Theological Reflection

Chapter 1

What is theological reflection?

I begin by making you aware that theology assumes God’s deepest dream for all humankind and creation. That dream is justice, wholeness, salvation, or the absence of poverty, war, disease, discrimination, racism, sexism, classism—any system or ideology that blocks the fulfillment of God’s gift of salvation for the whole world. God’s dream is that we love God, love one another as we love ourselves, and love the environment which sustains human life on this earth. If theology begins with God’s dream, then it cannot dismiss the massive examples of humanity’s injustices: the neglect and exploitation of children, the abuse visited upon women, oppression of the poor, environmental abuse, and ecological racism. Thus, theological reflection takes place at the intersection of God’s dream and humanity’s refusal fully to live into that dream.

God’s dream is not synonymous with The American Dream, although the democratic principles of equality and justice are partial expressions of God’s dream. Crassly speaking, the American Dream is reduced by many citizens to the ownership of property and material things; whereas, the dream of God is about social justice, world peace, and human cooperation and respect.

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Theological reflection can look within the culture for non-traditional ways of knowledge that may provide opportunities to cast new visions and employ underutilized and, in some cases, neglected, resources for the Church’s work in the world.

About the author

The Reverend Dr. Thomas Spann is an ordained Baptist minister who earned his Bachelor of Arts at Bishop College, his Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry at SMU in Dallas. He served as a college instructor at Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas. After thirty years at Perkins School of Theology at SMU, he retired in 2018 as the Director of the Perkins Intern Program.

He is the author of When Theological Reflection Goes to Church; First Sunday: Reflections on Ministry Experiences in the Black Church; and A Necessary Transition: A Book of Sermons.

He and his wife, Cynthia, live in Dallas, Texas.

Thomas W. Spann

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