USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

May 12, 2001: “Man, That’s Your Mama!” — Rev. Cecil Murray

May 12, 2001: “Man, That’s Your Mama!” — Rev. Cecil Murray

May 12, 2001: “Man, That’s Your Mama!” — Rev. Cecil Murray

Reverend Murray discusses moms during this Mother’s Day sermon. He highlights the importance of honoring your mother by being a good son and appreciating what your mother taught you. Women should look for quality men raised right by their mothers. Love the man who can say “I love you” to his mom, men who love their mother like Jesus loved his mother. Something is wrong with men who can not speak respectfully about their mothers. You must take care of the one who brought you into this world. We all have dignity, and it takes a complete man and a complete woman to have a strong relationship, to raise a strong son. Raise a son who respects God and women, and be a son who your mother can be proud of.

During his 27 years as the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray transformed a small congregation into a megachurch that brought jobs, housing and corporate investment into South Los Angeles neighborhoods. After the 1992 civil unrest, FAME Renaissance, the economic development arm of the church, brought more than $400 million in investments to L.A.’s minority and low-income neighborhoods. Rev. Murray remains a vibrant force in the Los Angeles faith community through his leadership of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.

The Murray Archive preserves Rev. Murray‘s sermons and interviews in order to inspire the next generation of pastors, activists and scholars.

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Following is a lightly edited transcript of the above sermon. To quote from the sermon, please provide credit to: Rev. Cecil L. Murray, Murray Archives, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

“Man, That’s Your Mama!”

May 12, 2001

If you’ve got a reason, one more time, raise your hand and say, “Praise the Lord!”

Congregation: Praise the Lord!

At the top of your voice, say, “Praise the Lord!”

Congregation: Praise the Lord!

Healing. Healing for the soul. Gaining the whole world and losing your soul.

Going from soup to steak. Even getting in your mama’s face. Some of you here had an old-fashioned mama… tell you, “I brought you into this world… I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out!” And you didn’t call 911. Not just because they didn’t have it then, you didn’t call 911 because if you did, you would be calling the fire department to put out this fire in your soul. Thank you, mama!

Nobody has to love you. And your mama loves you enough to chastise you. Honor your mother. God says honor your father and your mother that your days may be long, full and meaningful on this earth. I need your permission to talk straight from the belly this morning, may I have it?

Brothers, I need your permission to talk about us males as it relates to females. May we have your permission, brothers? Alright, and don’t worry–Father’s Day is coming soon.

In your pew Bibles, turn to page 511. Keep your seats, ’cause we’re only gonna take it a verse at a time. Page 511, and I’ll read the ordinance. Proverbs 15, Proverbs 15, looking for his twin in there. A sensible son gladdens his father, a rebellious son saddens his mother. In the original Greek, instead of “saddens his mother,” “despises his mother.” A rebellious son despises his mother. That’s just our subject we want you to pray with us on. Man, that’s your mama!

It starts with the mind. Something is happening in the mentality of these sons you’re raising, mothers. Something is going wrong with this matter of esteem. The brothers don’t esteem themselves so that they have a balance. Now we just need a small example… an exemplar of what it is for some mother to raise a good son, one who’s been exposed to fame and fortune, but who still remembers his Lord, who takes care of his children, who loves his wife, who doesn’t have to go around proving anything.

Stand up, Dave Winfield! Stand up, Dave. Where is Dave? Stand up, Dave. Give him a hand!

Give your mama a hug today. Mama! Mama, you did a good job. You taught him the truth about yourself. I don’t care if you hit 300 or 0, you still a fine man. I don’t care if you tall and buffed out or not, you still a fine man. You’re the oldest man on Earth, I don’t want you to think you any Uncle Tom fool, I want you to know you are God’s child! I want you to know you are somebody! I want you to get you head together!

Something’s wrong with our head. Every time you see us, we got something on the head: wrapped it, or curl it, or curlicued it, or dreadlocked it, always custom-made fools. Two-hundred dollars on your head! And ain’t nothing in your head! Won’t go to the library, but you go to the beauty salon! You gotta have your fingernails done and putting a dollar in the offering tray; something’s wrong with your head! You gotta pose all the time! You out at the bus bench, catching the bus posing! If you ain’t got a car, you ain’t got no business to be acting big-shot! Get you a job and stop posing so much!

You can’t even say to a woman, “I love you.” I mean, mama, you know–I’m too wrong for you, mama. Mama, you know. That ain’t your mama! Your mama probably made a mistake. Messing up your head. Mothers! You are raising future men, not future fools. Mama! You better pet your husband and raise your son, and start raising your husband and petting your son. Mama, how come your son ain’t at church with you this morning? Mama, why is your son sleeping in, or sleeping out? Mama, where is your son? Mama! What’s wrong with you messing up your son’s mind?

Verse 14, a wise man is hungry for truth, while the mocker feeds on trash. We are the trash-talkingest generation in the history of the world. Don’t do nothing but talk trash. Now, here you are, one of the world’s best basketball players in the NBA, all you got to do is make the baskets and set up the plays, and you talking trash to the referee, talking trash to the crowd, talking trash to your coach, choking your coach. You got to be so bad, so everybody call you a bad nigga. Mama, you messed up his head!

Talking trash. And sisters, you got to stop loving trash. May I have your permission to talk this morning?

You say it’s alright to talk from the gut? Is it alright?

Sister, can’t you tell sugar from salt? How many women has he messed up? Seven! But you gonna be different, “I’m eight!” Can’t you tell a fine strong man, he ain’t got much, he ain’t much to look at, he ain’t hip, he’s just as square as a city block! But he’s going on to college! He’s starting his career! He looks out after his money! He says “I love you!” He sends you flowers!

And you want something driving fast. His mama’s car. Racing to the red light. Talking trash. You off in the right seat and he on the cellphone, whispering to his other woman out there, “Hey, mama. I be there tonight, yeah. I mean like, you know, you know, like you know,” can’t even talk! “Like, like, like, I mean, I mean, you know? You know? I mean, I mean.” Ain’t talking trash–just trash!

Mama! You can’t even say his name! What’s your name son? Well, nice to meet you, do you have a last name? Needs to learn the truth, ’cause that’s when it comes down to truth or trash. Your granddaddy was for truth. Your grandmamma was for truth. But you and I living in a trashy generation. Even trash the mama. You’ve heard all these CDs, and every time I hear it, I just wanna throttle ’em. I wanna throttle the group! I wanna throttle the ones who are paying it! I wanna throttle the ones who are buying it! I wanna throttle the ones who believe it! Calling our women bitches and whores! I just wanna throttle ’em! You ain’t got no mama, who’s a bitch or whore! What’s wrong with your mind?! What’s wrong with your mind?!

Truth or trash. That’s trash. And that ain’t us. Truth, the truth is your mama brought you into this world, and your mama is keeping you in this world, sometimes by herself. Alright? This ain’t got nothing to do with the brothers, we’ll talk to the brothers later. We’ve said before, brothers, anything you bring into this world, you ought to take care of. If you and the mama ain’t getting along right, what’s that got to do with the children? If you have to eat oatmeal, no meal, and miss meal, you ought to send the child support, and mama you ought not turn that boy against his daddy, let his daddy have him! Mama! Mama!

You have to raise your son by yourself. You have to raise your son by yourself. And don’t blame nobody. Your mama tried to tell you that that fool you were messing with was a fool. But you a control freak. Your love so great, you can change him, even him don’t wanna change him. You can’t, won’t offer somebody that they won’t for themselves! You can’t raise a grown man! You gotta start with his son. That woman you just talked trash to. Your mama brought you in this world, and is keeping you in this world, sometimes by herself. Divorce rate is 50 percent. And premarital counseling, we go at it good and hard. If you don’t want truth, don’t bring it here.

‘Cause you got to learn in life, everything is a matter of giving and giving. You can’t have a giver and a taker, you gotta have what?

Congregation: A giver and a giver!

A giver, a giver, and a giver! You can’t say “I love you,” and the brother says, “And I love you… and you, and you, and you.” Don’t worry. Jesus loved his mother. And when Joseph, his father, dies, Jesus takes care of his mother. He’s a carpenter, he makes money, and he takes care of his mother. He has all the younger brothers and sisters, but he accepts the responsibility of an adult man! The one who took care of you, you take care of that person.

And on the cross, he remembered his mother. Looked down at his best friend and said, “Son, behold thy mother, standing next to him. Woman, behold thy son.”

Took care of his mother, somebody didn’t send their mama a flower today. But when they bring it down that aisle, then you gonna come with $300-worth of flowers. And falling into the casket filled with guilt. ’cause all that hollering, screaming and showing your short shoot, when you come to that casket, you just bearing guilt. You ought to take care of your take-care, while your take-care is still living. Take care of the one who takes care of you. Take care of the one who brought you into this world! Take care of the one who feeds you! Take care of the one who shelters you! Take care of your take-care.

There was a time when dad was there, and dad reinforced mama. Mama say, “Wash them dishes and make up that bed,” and you “oh, mama,” and daddy would say, “Do what your mama says!” Raise your hand if you had a daddy like that. Yeah. Brothers raise your hand if you’re gonna be a daddy like that. Raise, reinforce, reinforce. Reinforce. You gotta take some responsibility right now.

We slip back a century. We were getting to the place where we knew that men and women were equal. Women and men, we equal. Now the brothers, done going into this stuff a mean man, and you my property–you chattel property. And some sisters are so silly, you’re believing that stuff, you need a man to tell you what to do. You need a man to complete your life. You don’t need a man to complete your life! You are complete within yourself. And if there is a complete man that comes along, then a complete man and a complete woman, make a complete marriage. But you don’t need a man so bad, that you have to go around denigrating yourself! You have dignity! Sisters, touch somebody on your right and tell ’em, “I have dignity! I have worth!”

This woman crossing the street, this busy thoroughfare in this large city, and another man crossing, passes out. She rushes to him and the traffic stops, and she unbuttons his collar, seeing what she can do to help him. Brother walks up and pushes the woman aside, you know these important people. “I, I, I. Me, me, me.” King-of-the-jungle type. Pushes her aside, he takes a pulse, and then he gets ready to do artificial respiration. She taps him on the shoulder and says, “When you get to that part where you call a doctor, I’m already here.”

It starts with the mind. Tell your neighbor on the left, “It starts to the mind. Starts with the mind.” Secondly, equally as important of two things. Neighbor turn back and ask ’em: “What’s on your mind?” Sisters, we pray it’s a song, you ain’t gonna make it through life without a song. It’s going to be another 50 years before we get the family problems straightened out, and we gonna take a month to set it aside for this thing where Jesus is gonna talk to us about family. And the brothers gonna make some commitments, and the bachelors are gonna start being bachelors, and the women are gonna know how to treat a man, instead of “Nya, nya, nya,” so she got a real man, she gonna just talk to ’em gently. She’s going to be his princess, not his mama. But you need a song.

Some of you had a mama or grandmamma, “Jesus keep me near the cross… to keep me from killing these kids… there, a precious fountain, free to all, a healing stream, flows from Calv’ry’s…” remember your mama, “…mountain.” Everybody, sing it!

Congregation: (singing)

“Be my glory ’til ever. ’til in my rapturous soul, shall find them. Rest beyond the rift.”

And she was a different person. Went to that refrigerator to sip that Jesus! You fill it up before you, you’ll fill it up again. Husband got a drinking problem, hard to bottle and sing “Jesus, keeping that old cross.” Make it to church on Sunday! Somebody else sang “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” somebody else sang “If it Had not Been for the Lord on my Side.”

Tell me, what! What would I do? Where would I be? I guess it’s a choice, of cheer, or gloom. You got another half a century, sisters. You better get ready for your cheer, ’cause life gonna send you enough gloom. It’s gonna take us a half a century to unmess the brother’s mind. Half of them don’t know who they are, and the other half don’t care. It’s gonna take us a half a century sister, you got to cheer!

Look what verse 15 says, Proverbs 15: “When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong. When he’s cheerful, everything seems right.” So, you make your choice, and you teach your sons to make their choice. The racist system is not going away in America, anytime soon. You got to teach your son, you got to be twice as good in order to get the same thing that the white man gets. You better teach your son, you gotta stand tall, when everything is trying to push you down. You gotta teach your son to respect the women, and it ain’t having sex that makes a man. You don’t have to have sex when you 15, 16, 17, 18, don’t you let sex have you; you gotta make a decision. Don’t go with the street gang, go with God’s gang. You gotta learn how to put some cheer in your life.

Better are little, better are little with reverence for God than great [with no faith]. It is better to eat soup with someone you love, than steak with someone you hate. That’s the concept of stewardship. That’s why, when you’re offering trade passes, you put God first! That’s someone you love! If you want soup, ain’t nothing wrong with soup! Soup kept your mommy here! Soup kept your grandmamma here! Soup kept you alive! Ain’t nothing wrong with soup. You got a soup salary. Trying to do Beverly Hills food. You gotta learn to do without. If you can’t afford a BMW, get you a car that you can afford. And when I say afford, I do mean a Ford. You can’t afford a five-hundred-dollar suit, a hundred-dollar suit will do!

Thank you, mama. A lazy fella has trouble all through life, the good man’s path is easiest. Sensible son gladdens his father, a rebellious saddens his mother. If he turns out good, daddy takes credit for him. If he turns out bad, his mama’s fault. Everybody say, “Thank you, mama!”

Congregation: Thank you, mama!

When I’m coming home, I just wanna tell you about this captain of nurses in the war zone. Well, she’s a sensitive person, and when soldiers are dying, she never fools them that they’re gonna live. She tries a way to tell ’em the truth. As an 18-year-old, he’s dying, he’s dying. He asks her, “Am I dying?” “What do you think?” He said, “I think I am.” “Do you know how to pray, son?” “All I know, ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’.” “That’s good for a start. Go ahead and pray it.” “My mama taught it to me, will you hold my hand while I pray?”

Normally she said I wouldn’t ever do this, because I’m a supervisor and I told my staff don’t get too emotionally involved, when I couldn’t just stand there and hold his hand. I got in bed with him, I put my arms around him, and I held him, and I rocked him, and I told him “Son, it’s gonna be alright.” I kissed him on his cheek, and then he said, “I love you, mommy.” And he died. I got up, expecting the staff to mock me, to laugh at me. But instead, they were weeping with me. I know his mother will be wondering how he died. She’s gonna sit down and write her a letter, and not only tell the mother he loved you, but he didn’t die alone.

Everybody, say, “I learned to pray in my mother’s heart.”

Congregation: I learned to pray in my mother’s heart!

I learned to walk in my mother’s heart.

Congregation: I learned to walk in my mother’s heart.

I learned to talk in my mother’s heart. I learned table manners in my mother’s heart. I learned courage in my mother’s heart. And brother, my mother’s alive with God. Oh, woman! Behold thy son! Behold thy son! Behold thy son! Thank you!