A possible sermon heard in a metro Atlanta church on Easter Sunday after news that a Freaknik documentary will be dropping soon

OPINION: The early '90s-era Atlanta free-for-all "festival" is getting a documentary that has many folks feeling a little nervous.

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

*To the choir* Thank you choir for that beautiful rendition of “He’ll Do It Again …” 

Won’t he do it? He said he would! Um, Saints, today is Resurrection Sunday! We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who gave his life for all of us. This is our Sunday to celebrate the true and living God. In HIS house! Amen. 

Normally, on this Resurrection Sunday we talk about Jesus being arisen and ascending to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He did that. Periodt, as they say. But on this here Sunday, I’d like to talk to you about a different type of resurrection. It’s a resurrection of the past when the future is what’s important. Some of y’all like to call it, “bringing up old sh— … stuff.” Can I get an Amen?!

That’s what we are going to talk about today here, church. Resurrecting … the past. Y’all can sit down, ushers. Y’all need to hear this, too. 

I was recently alerted to a new, uh, documentary that will be coming out on, what is it, Deacon? Hoodoo? Hulu, yes, Hulu. Though Hoodoo sounds better because WHO DO ASKED ME IF I WANTED THIS? Sorry, church. See, I read that good brothers Jermaine Dupri and Luther Campbell are part of the team bringing this “Freaknik: The Greatest Story Never Told” to your streaming platforms. Now, I like Jermaine Dupri; he is important to the fabric of our great city of Atlanta, and Luther Campbell definitely, uh, made some folks move a little different. Now it is my understanding from the 100 articles I read about this that there will be footage and discussion about Freaknik — some of y’all probably remember those days — and what a time it was in this city. Can I get an Amen?!

Oh, don’t be quiet now. Y’all already know what it was. Cars all over the place blocking traffic and young folks acting up in the streets doing things that God was not too happy about. I don’t think y’all hear me. 

Now, why is pastor talking about Freaknik on this Resurrection Sunday? That’s a good question. So, y’all know everybody has a past. Pastor, your good servant and shepherd pastor, is no different. Pastor wasn’t always so sanctified. I had some years out there on those Atlanta streets running wild, LOOKING for God, while I was also looking for Nikki. Trying to find Jesus in the dens of iniquity down Stewart Avenue. 

Stay with me, now. 

Well, during the years of 1988-1997, roughly, your pastor was um, a, um, participant in Freaknik, and I don’t know if or if not I was caught up in any footage, Amen. Come on,  somebody! I know I ain’t the only one with a couple of questionable years out there in those streets. Some of y’all was bussin’ it open for the community. Some of y’all was acting BESIDES y’all selves out there at Greenbriar. Some of y’all was doing shameful acts that you know your mama and daddy would be upset about. But y’all ain’t who you was. You are now, just like pastor, a better version of yourself that would never do anything to disparage the word of Jesus. 

Amen. Y’all know!

Now listen, I ain’t seen the documentary — Amen — so it’s likely they don’t have me on any footage. And that’s how it should be. We don’t need to be bringing up old stuff and your pastor’s former life ain’t his current life — can I get some piano? — but let the record reflect that resurrecting the past never makes for a better future unless that resurrection includes Jesus. Come on, somebody!

Don’t let what you see on the social media streets dictate what you see in the house of the Lord! If you have to resurrect the past, make sure it doesn’t include footage of the ’90s, Amen. Don’t let a documentary be your penitentiary, AMEN! Don’t bring up old stuff unless it’s to make sure Jesus is on the mainline!!!

Now, look, when this documentary comes, if you see pastor in any of the footage, just know my heart and my soul are not who they used to be. I am like the Phoenix that has risen from the ashes. Amen! We are not who we used to be for today, we are servants for the Lord. Can I get an Amen?!? AMEN! AMEN AMEN!!!


Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.