Jumping the Broom

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But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:11

“Jumping the broom” was an African marriage ceremony tradition continued by African-American slaves. Slave owners prohibited any legal recognition of marriage and rights for slaves. Therefore, the slave community developed its own methods of identifying committed unions. Today, many African-American newlyweds still jump the broom after the minister pronounces them as man and wife.

Bishop T. D. Jakes is the pastor of the 25,000-member The Potter’s House Church in Dallas, Texas. Bishop Jakes has contributed much to Christendom. But in 2011 he contributed by producing the movie Jumping the Broom. The movie portrays the perfect young black couple in the days before their wedding ceremony. Unfortunately their families were imperfect. The bride’s family was from the upper crust of society with an estate in Martha’s Vineyard. The groom’s family was straight out of the ghettos of Brooklyn. As a result, the movie is full of drama, comedy, and conflict as uptown meets downtown, privilege meets poverty, and as cultural and family traditions surface in opposition to pure marital love.

Much like this movie, the same drama can unfold when Christians endeavor to worship and serve together—especially when suburban meets urban, rural meets city, young meets old, male meets female, and white meets black, brown, red, or yellow.

Those who seek to reach across lines of race and culture could learn much from married couples. There are many reasons why marriages end up in divorce, but the most common root is a seed of selfishness. In the same way, many of our Christian evangelistic efforts can fail if the focus is upon ourselves and the motive is to appease our conscience and ease our guilt. We can be more committed to conscience than to the cause of Christ.

Those who claim to follow Christ must give up all excuses for not actively helping people reconcile to God and for not living out reconciliation. This will require great humility, forgiveness, and giving up personal rights. It is time to join hands as the family of God and jump into a new beginning.

Walter Harvey

PONDER: What excuses do you sometimes use to avoid living out a life of reconciliation? If you are married, what issues are creating distance between you and your spouse?

* * *

Homes and Families Prayer

We are a broken, divided family
of lonely individuals,
each alone;
truly, we’re not a family.
Communication with each other seems impossible, and love vanishes into the void.
Yet both are what we desperately need. We all need and want
each other,
but we’re too proud to admit it,

or to confess
that we’re each to blame
for our separation, loneliness, and pain. We add brick upon brick
to the wall that divides
and isolates us.

You alone are our hope,
O God of our salvation.
Your love breaks down
walls that isolate and divide us. Your love heals, forgives,

and makes us whole again.
Restore us, O God of our salvation. Reconcile us,
that we may be a family, and live.

Vienna Cobb Anderson
From The Complete Book of Christian Prayer

Comments welcome below.

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2 thoughts on “Jumping the Broom”

  1. Lord God, I look forward to the day when the church gathers at your feet from the nations… Father, there is nothing greater than being reconciled in Your Love… Lord Jesus, unity is the conclusion of the matter, and reconciliation is a foretaste of that sweet communion of your people… Spirit of God, help us remind this world that your church is in fact “One People”…

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