"And God raised us up... and seated us in the heavenly realms... In order that in the coming ages God might show the incomparable riches of God's grace..." - Ephesians 2:6-7 (Excerpts)
"Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about
Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya
Back here where we need ya
Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot
Welcome back, Welcome back, Welcome back"
Some of us are old enough to remember the theme song of the 1970s television sitcom, 'Welcome Back, Kotter.' The show was about a man named Gabe Kotter who escapes the slums of Brooklyn through educational advancement, only to return to his high school alma mater in the hood to teach a remedial class of loafers called the 'Sweathogs.'
Kotter is only expected to contain his 'Sweathogs' until they either drop out or are expelled. But Kotter himself was once a remedial student at the school, so he is adept at how to relate to the class of misfits and tap into their potential for learning and advancement.
All of Kotter's high education has only prepared him to relate to students who are on the bottom rung academically. The credentials that lifted Kotter from the slums have situated him right back in the slums for service.
God often elevates us to low places. Many of us have been freed to stand with those who are in bondage. Our lofty ascensions often lead us to land among 'the least of these.'
God, when you lead us back to the people and places we struggled desperately to escape, let us hear in our spirits a warm 'Welcome Back.' Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.