"I believe that only in America is my story possible."
The Rev. Barry Black, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, repeated this phrase several times throughout his sermon Sunday morning at Christ Church of Oak Brook.
U.S. Senate Chaplain the Rev. Barry Black spoke at the Sunday morning services at Christ Church of Oak Brook. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
After growing up poor in Baltimore, Black now holds several advanced degrees, including a doctorate in ministry and a doctor of philosophy degree in psychology. He served in the Navy for 27 years, ending his career there as the U.S. Navy Chief of Chaplains.
In June 2003, Black was elected as the 62nd chaplain to the Senate. He counsels senators and their families, opens the Senate every day in prayer, and runs Bible studies and a prayer breakfast.
In his sermon Sunday at Christ Church, he talked about how he got his start, memorizing Bible verses as a young child because his mother would pay him 5 cents for every verse he could recite.
Black said he and his brother would comb through the Bible looking for the shortest verses they could find, and for many years, memorizing Bible verses was a way to make money to buy a big Snickers bar, or Sugar Babies, another favorite.
"Then, when I was 13, I memorized Proverbs 110, 'My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.'" Black said. "That very day, two young men from my neighborhood asked me to 'help them get back at someone.' I felt the power of Proverbs 110 reverberating in the corners of my spirit, and on the strength of that verse, I refused to go with them.
"They didn't just get back at someone, they murdered someone," he said. "Their sad saga was played out on the evening news and the judicial conclusion was life in prison. One of the gentlemen, in fact the gentleman who asked me to go along said, 'But, I didn't do it, the other guy did it.' But it didn't make any difference; they both received the penalty of life in prison. This means that had I gone along with them, even if I had stood there quoting scripture, I would have received the same penalty."
Now, many years, degrees and job titles later, Black's life includes preaching more than 40 Sundays a year at different churches throughout the country.
"We've done a summer sermon series for the last couple of years where we feature guest speakers, and a friend of mine recommended him to me," said Daniel Meyer, senior pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook.
Source: Chicago Sun Times | ARCADIA KUST