Tag: clergy

If I Don’t Get There With You

Reproclamation.

This act is defined by the reannouncing of something public and official.

According to USA Today in January 2016, here is history as to the legislative history around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

On Nov. 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill marking the third Monday of every January, as Martin Luther King, Jr., day, according to the center. The holiday was to begin in 1986. In January 1986, the first national Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was observed.

Coincidentally, 1986 was when I began my elementary education. Moreover, every president since Regan signs this proclamation every year, ergo it remains a holiday. Seems redundant.

However, in keeping with the man and the honor expected of today, I offer the same wisdom he did half a century ago:

It’s expected to say something today to be encouraging and profound today. The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  is encouraging and profound. However, there are portions of his life and work, that don’t qualify him as ‘the good Negro’ he is sometimes classified as.

The work, social justice, civil equality, dismantling of systems of oppression, is not easy and is thankless. We see now the lust towards the power certain white people had generations ago where words and looks could, would end the lives of people of color. We see a march towards the reversal of things equitable, just and fair in favor of reestablishing what white supremacy has dictated to be the most right way. We see those using coded language for its implementation–and the silence of those whom have seen such an incarnation before, yet do nothing–because whiteness, its privilege and the profits gained or granted therein.

There is a romance to racism this country worships and imbibes  which I’m sure that my grandmother could better explain, and my mother endured as a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Being alive to see this, it is easy to be afraid, and look for the rescue from the slow march to national destruction from Washington, D.C. Even one of my writing sheroes, Roxanne Gay, in an article from the New York Times details that no one is going to save us from this administration.

She’s right.

However, there was no one to protect us in administrations prior. We as a people began to do that–creating our own schools, businesses, and edifying one another. And we still had to fight to get a cat up off you because in the words of Barack H. Obama “Folk wanna pop off…”

On today, I want to know that you are valued, you are worthy, you are entitled to all this life has to offer. Today is a celebration of the life of a man that embodied one aspect, one facet of a movement meant to uplift and encourage people, and change the face of this nation. This work, social justice, civil rights, equality for all people, dismantling of systems of oppression is on-going. Now, in this dispensation it is our turn, my turn, your turn to fight. The rescue is in your mouth and resources–and what we as a people are willing to pull together to create the better we so desperately want and know what can have.

Today, we celebrate the life of a man who dared to look this nation in the face and call it a lie:   in word, in action, and in deed. Today, we celebrate a forged path able to withstand those that walked with him, ahead of him, and us coming after. Today, remember your power is service–even when no one calls your name or sees you.  You must remember the rescue you seek, you can create.

Today, let no one tell you that you cannot. History has proven that you can, you shall, and you will. We shall overcome indeed, but sometimes, you need to first acknowledge you first must get over.

 

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Pray With Your Feet

I am an activist.

I am a believer in Christ.

Ergo, I am a rebel.

In the current slice of the world I inhabit, there is no reason to be silent. I cannot afford to be silent. The church can no longer be silent while graves are filling and the gravediggers say they are only serving while others call these gravediggers peacemakers.

I have seen the empty eyes of those whom have run out of tears, fists bruised from the fisted tension, and look to this God we tell them exists and is ever present. Yet, there are not enough of those collared and called willing to acknowledge this pain, this anguish, this dispair.

The one thing seen in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke (my favorite), and John) is Jesus was among the people.

He was out among the people.

There are clergy in this movement, in this era of social change, that are willing, able and available to lend ear, heart and body to the overall societal better. And for that I am grateful.

I am grateful, in this march towards justice, that our faith, this faith, is a launch pad by which Christ is displayed in the most public fashion. When the church is displayed in its majesty outside of brick and mortar, we see how the church does change the world.

The thing that sticks out to me about Jesus Christ in the gospels is His accessibility and Him not being bothered about the multitude which hung around Him. He wasn’t ashamed of whom He was or whom they were.

This critical element, which cannot be overlooked, is His attention to the needs of the people He served.

He was attentive to the people He served.

In this fight, in this portion that is uphill, hard and dark, those of us called to serve cannot afford to watch those whom have headed protests and righteous agitation to not have help or soft places to fall. We cannot pretend that protest, unrest and injustice are outliers to the support, notice and strength of the church.

Sometimes all you need to go forward is someone to go with you, to see a face beside you, or to have hands on your back telling you to keep going.

That, those hands, should be the church.

Everyone Can Be A Servant

When my siblings and I were young, my mother told us,

“Don’t you stand there and watch me work! Find something to do.”

From these words came my restless and curious nature. From the words of my mother came my desire to indeed find something to do. In the doing, came my love of books, questions, reading and the world around me. I love my mother for this instruction.

When President Obama proclaimed that Dr. Martin Luther King Day should be a day of service, that regenerated the need and affirmation to indeed ‘find something to do’. It was around this time that I began in ministry. It is around this time, I began to learn (and notice) what it meant to be a servant.


Selflessness. The job or assignment at hand is what the focus should be. It’s bigger than feelings and more important than credit. The goal is completion. Many people get assigned to things, but what can be completed?

Faithfulness. Can you commit to what you start? When it’s hard (because it will be) can you still keep the goal in mind with the instruction given? The key to faithfulness is focus. What has your attention, and how does it help what you’re doing?

Love. Love is beyond how you feel, it’s what you do—and do on a consistent basis. What do you love, who do you love, and why do you love it? Love keeps no record of wrong, yes, but rejoices in the truth! In your service, in finding something to do,  can you tell the truth when lies are common?

Devotion.  Can you do that which you are able to? Can you indeed DO it? Devotion is enabled faith. Will you do it in the face of nay-sayers, the ever-present, doubting vox populi? The chatter will always be there—but what will you do about it?

In finding what your hands may do, remember you may not, will not be able to do it alone. Don’t think yourself so mighty you can’t stand a hand. God sends help when you need help.

In the meantime, don’t watch no body work.

                    Find you something to do.

The Strength To Wonder


There is a portion of faith that is driven solely by imagination.  Even the Scriptures remind us to ask for what we want, not doubt, and to believe that we have what we ask for even as we ask for it.

Sometimes, as adults, that is a constant reminder of the necessity of having child-like faith:  it’s the coin of the realm of belief. Sometimes in order for new things to happen, believing that they will is the first step.

However, there is an esoteric nature to telling what you want or need to the Creator, to a High Power, the Almighty.  While doing so, have the audacity to believe that the being, with all power to sustain full utilization of the universe seen and unseen, will acknowledge you. From that acknowledgment, He will answer you in accordance to the greater plan and purpose for your life.

Incredible.


What I have found, especially in the position in Christian ministry I occupy, is that sense of hope and wonder you fight to maintain. You fight to maintain it because the onslaught of the world contends with you to siphon out any sense of love, hope, faith or wonder.

It is by hope that we can we believe and seek the better. However, if we cannot see the better, no hope exists. If there is no hope that exists, there can be nothing else that will exist outside of it.


In the space which God’s grace allows me to occupy, I have learned to maintain that sense of hope—from it, I cultivate gratitude. I am grateful for the minuscule and the grand because my hope lies in the sustainer of all those things given to me.

It is in that hope that I can and do wrap myself when life becomes overwhelming.  In that time away from the diverse temptations of the world, I get to see as children do again:  the world as open and accessible. I get to ask for what I want, beyond a Santa Claus capacity.  The relationship forged in those moments results in an intimacy incomparable.

It is the intimacy that grants me strength to believe for better and know that better will come. With the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune accosted as an affront to my person daily, I am settled to know I don’t walk through this life alone.

Even if I were to give in to that, as I sometimes have, I am reassured it is only for a short time—and He whom sustains the world by desire of thought is never far from me…neither will He take me where He cannot be, for that is not His nature.

Of this knowledge, in this space, I can recite one of the first scriptures I had ever learned, from the book of Esther 4, verse 14 (I learned it in the King James Version):

Shepherding


Growing up, one of my favorite things about the Bible was the stories about shepherds. I loved that God used these people that the world around them didn’t see or value. One of my favorite shepherds? Jesse’s boy, David.
However, my affinity towards the shepherds of the Bible doesn’t stop with David but blossoms from it. From the life of David, we see what God hides inside the lives of those same people ignored by the world they inhabit.

There could be no greater humility than to be called what other people call a fisher of men:  a shepherd. A person charged with the protection and leading of all those charged to their care. There is no greater humility, no greater honor, than the Creator calling you from the obscure to the open.

What has been lost to a vast portion of the population is the humanity that houses this divinity.

Modern day shepherds are pastors. Often, they are all seen as either superhuman and infallible or corrupt and money-seeking. Both are wrong.


I ask you to consider what it is to be called a shepherd. I want you to consider what goes into following what God has told them. I ask you to consider what they grapple with, wrestle with and walk away from to do what God has asked them to do. Consider the people whom leave, lie and don’t stay, and do all in their power to doubt what God has told you—determined to pull the draw of God from you or you away from God.
I ask you to consider what is required of such people whom have their lives flipped and uprooted. I ask you to think about what provokes the fall we see from public pulpits and how redemption comes…and how those they are charged to lead won’t go, can’t stay, and won’t come back to the fold.

I won’t even get into the people that will heed your advice and run for your prayers but won’t follow you in a leadership capacity as God would lead.

Now, I ask you, in all earnestness—can you do it?

Before you point and ridicule or judge because of what you believe your pastor should have done, I ask you remember they are not God. I ask you remember they are doing a job people die running from or die while trying to do!

Be patient.

Be prayerful.

Be faithful to what God has told you considering being under certain leadership and obedient to His voice.

Sometimes the people who need the most prayer, empathy, and understanding are also the ones giving it.