Thursday night, May 19 at 6:30 pm, we continue #FreedomTrainLA at Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church. We completed the fourth study in the Official @UndergroundWGN Faith Study Guide at our last gathering. We’ll continue with the fifth at our next gathering.
See the study guide below and see you Thursday night!
Keep Running (Underground Faith Study, No. 5)
“Ain’t no going back. Not for any of us.” – Rosalee
“Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me.’” – Philemon, verse 11
The Macon 7 must regroup after they run away from the plantation. Tensions between them are high as they strategize on how to make it the train to Atlanta. On the Macon plantation, the slaves left behind fear punishment from the slavemaster and the overseer tourtures Pearly Mae in effort to get information on the runaways’ whereabouts. Suzanna Macon offers to free Pearly Mae and Boo in exchange for the Macon 7’s plan. Ernestine advises Pearly Mae against it, but Pearly Mae is convinced she can trust Suzanna. To protect Rosalee (and the others) from capture, Ernestine poisons and kills Pearly Mae. Meanwhile, Moses and Boo escape the bounty hunter on the train while the Macon 7’s remaining members keep running.
After the Macon 7 separates in pairs to escape the slave catchers, Cato shoots Zeke in the leg with his gun. What is the cost of Cato’s betrayal to the group?
Suzanna Macon is Thomas Macon’s wife and (we discover) is Pearly Mae’s half sister. Pearly Mae says she can trust Suzanna because she is honest. Why would Pearly Mae say that?
Moses questions whether he should return for Pearly Mae, but Rosalee tells him returning is not an option and that when he is weak, his daughter may carry him to freedom. Is Rosalee right?
Philemon (verses 8-21)
New Revised Standard Version
8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty,9 yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. 10 I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back for ever, 16 no longer as a slave but as more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
As the Macon 7 are on their journey to freedom, they are constantly met with the temptation to return. The path to freedom is unpaved, treacherous and uncertain. Those on the plantation have the certainty of plantation life, but must question whether they can trust the slave masters who lord over them. Like Onesimus, they are presented with options: Should they stay, or should they go? Should the runaways keep running or should they return to the plantation?
These are difficult questions that require courage, discernment and faith. We must be prayerful and bold, taking risks of faith when necessary, to live into the freedom God ordains for all of us.
Does Onesimus keep running, or does he trust Paul and go back to his slavemaster?
Would the members of the Underground Railroad trust Paul, or would they keep running?
What are the “plantations” that bind us today? Is God calling us to “stay” or “keep running?”