Pastor Ken Walden (Courtesy photo)

Scripture: Mark 9:2-9

The year was 1945 and the person was Mr. John Johnson. Somewhere in the corners of his mind, down deep in his heart, he felt called to create a magazine that would be known as Ebony Magazine and it would become one of the most popular publications in the United States of America for more than five decades. Mr. Johnson had an idea; he listened to his inner voice and pursued this noble endeavor, and we are forever grateful.

Ebony Magazine became a highly anticipated, monthly publication, that emphasized the achievements of African Americans in education, entertainment, sports, and beyond. Millions of people, including myself, relied on Ebony Magazine for inspiration, encouragement, and information about the happenings in our communities across the country.

Again, the year was 1945 and God blessed community leaders in the city of Los Angeles, California with a vision to start a religious community that would eventually be known as Holman United Methodist Church. Let us be abundantly grateful for the faithful hardworking members who invited friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers to our congregation so the flock would multiply and grow in Christian outreach.

Let us remember the carpenters that built the first buildings, gardeners, custodians, electricians, day workers, and truck drivers who volunteered their service for the upkeep of the church.

Let us remember the housewives, teachers, secretaries, domestic and factory workers, some giving their widow’s mite and their talents as an act of love for the church.

Let us remember the husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, and gentlemen that rolled up their sleeves with determination to help ensure the congregation move forward.

Let us remember and value every member today, each one bringing his or her own precious gifts of time, talent, and treasure.

Throughout this year, we give God thanks on this Holman United Methodist Church 76th Church Anniversary! Our foremothers and forefathers listened to Jesus. Miraculous things occur when you listen to Jesus. Who are you listening to during this season of your life?

There is a lot of discussion about air pollution and water pollution, but do not underestimate noise pollution. Who are you giving your attention? Where are you giving your energy? What is influencing you in major ways?

According to the Gospel of Mark 9:2-9, we are informed that God wants us to listen to Jesus. One of the ways in which we listen to Jesus is by reading his words. A powerful message from Jesus is written in John 13:34:   “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

There are a lot of different connections in this world. There is a “wireless connection” in our world. I remember when my parents bought our first cordless phones for our home. It was exciting. No longer was I geographically restricted to one room while speaking on the phone. I could walk around and feel free to talk on the phone almost anywhere in the house.

There is also an “internet connection” in our world. Many coffee shops and other businesses advertise the availability of an “internet connection” on their premises to persuade people to do business with them. Wi-Fi is important to many businesses.

As Christians, let us not forget or underestimate the significance of the “love connection!” Let us remember our elders and ancestors may not have any other connection other than their “love connection” to God and to one another. The “love connection” is the most powerful connection in the universe. Jesus continues to want to empower us to experience life in its fullest. Let us follow Jesus’ words: Love one another.

Many people often receive thousands or millions of messages every day when we consider television commercials, radio, emails, internet, social media platforms, and telephone calls to name a few.

How are you filtering messages? How are you avoiding and/ or ignoring messages? The year is currently 2021. Who and/ or What are you listening to during this season of your life?

The Rev. Dr. Ken Walden is the senior pastor of Holman United Methodist Church, 3320 West Adams Blvd., in Los Angeles. Previously, he was the president of Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Walden’s prior pastoral appointments include churches in California, Michigan and North Carolina. Also, he is the author of the three books including “Practical Theology for Church Diversity: A Guide for Clergy and Congregations.”

A graduate of The Citadel (BS), he earned his Master’s degree at Duke Divinity School, his Doctor of Ministry degree at Graduate Theological Foundation, and a Master’s and Doctorate degrees at Claremont School of Theology. He is also a Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.