Blurring the divided lines

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we struggle to continue to be in relationship

As we strive to live out what the Creator God calls us to

Through the one who gave of Himself, so that we may have life

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

Amen

(pause)

Once more, the holidays are upon us

And we are reminded of the reasons to be thankful

But recently it seems

Our hearts and minds have been divided to the point

That being immersed in the beloved community

Is almost an insurmountable feat, leaping across the abyss

(pause)

The other evening, President Obama addressed the nation

Addressing the raw, gnawing issue of immigration

That surrounds our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ

Fleeing with sadness in their hearts

Their homeland, which is riddled with violence

Hoping for safety, peace

And a chance to be seen

As an essential, equal part of humanity

(pause)

President Obama put before us his action plans

Hoping this will bring an end to the anxieties many of us have

Still, there are those who are blinded with fear about these,

Our brothers and sisters in Christ

Whose hymns and rhythms we enjoy in worship,

Whose language has become embedded

In the fabric of this country

Simply because they come

from the wrong side of the border wall

(Pause)

Clergy and seminarians alike

Are preparing to gather in sacred, ecumenical places

In anticipation of a grand jury verdict to come

Regarding Michael Brown

Praying for calm, for peace, for justice and for closure

For a community that has been forgotten

Because of their socio-economic status

Because their presence is a grim reminder

When the oppressive forces in this world triumphed

Leading some of the beloved community to make decisions

Breaking their bond

With the Creator God

(pause)

But, there are those who chose to mock, to blame

To ignore the cries of suffering under domination

That these lost tribes of people daily lament

These, who are also Children of the Most High

Because they are on the wrong side of the law

And have always been on the wrong side of the fence

(pause)

So where do we find ourselves in this Gospel text?

(pause)

And do we consider the risen Christ, the King

Our King

Or do we merely see Him as a figurehead only-

Because following Christ’s commandments

Potentially places us in uncomfortable situations

Where the “good fences” that divide us

As sheep and goats

Are destroyed.

Does Our God, Our Redeemer

Our Healer

Deliberately

Divide us up into these categories

Of Good and evil,

Knowing as human beings

We will fail,

because we are not perfect?

(pause)

This world seems so alienated from anything holy

As if there are no traces of God’s reign here and now

And so we draw the lines

Removing us from being in relationship

With our brothers and sisters in Christ

We mark and accuse one another

As being a “goat”

Because by our human standards

They have not done enough, or loved enough

Or protested enough

For I was hungry and you gave me no food..

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me…”

(pause)

That sometimes we fail to recognize

That our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ

Are wrestling with whether or not

The presence of immigrants threatens their livelihood

Or threatens perhaps, the miseducation perpetuated

By this world through our fears

Of not having enough

And of afraid of admitting that they question their faith

And that Christ is not coming quick enough

To heal us, make us whole

So who are the goats, truly?

(pause)

That sometimes we fail to recognize

That our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ

Are lost in the chaos

Of miseducation that was poured into their elders

That this world twisted their ideals

And they could not see the reflection of Christ

And cannot see the reflection of Christ

In those whose skin color, or whose language

Or ways of worshipping God, the Creator of ALL

Perhaps is different

And that they yearn and long to take that step

Over those lines that divide us, as people of faith.

So who truly are the goats?

(pause)

Truly I tell you,

just as you did it to one of the least of these

who are members of my family,

 you did it to me”

(pause)

Are we truly ready to serve as sheep

Welcoming,

Serving

Being in community

with those whose journey is different from ours?

Are we truly ready to live into what Jesus Christ

Teaches us

Through God’s Word?

(pause)

There is Good News

Because even through our lamenting

Through our tears

God affirms God’s Love for us

God shows us everyday

That Jesus Christ walks with us

Because God states God will not leave us,

Nor forsake us

Even as this world causes us to weep

And to be suspicious

And to walk away from this sacred community

Because we can not see Christ in anything or anyone

But the Good News, beloved-

Is that Jesus Christ is here and now

Continuing to teach us

Through those who are deemed lowly

(pause)

That Christ comes and remains with those that perhaps

Are not on our side of the fence

Or the wall

Or the aisle

(pause)

That Christ chooses to settle Himself among the vulnerable

Those who are without homes

Without economic status

Without too, having strong faith

Without hope

Because Christ comes to those who are vulnerable

You, and me

Because the Good News of Jesus Christ is that Christ reigns

And Christ will reign

Gathering us up, all of us, God’s Creation

Removing us from the goats in the world-

Goats of greed

of oppressive laws, that grow as thorns

of hatred

of systemic failures of a system that only goal

Is the breakdown of the beloved community

(pause)

Because it is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God

God who has the power to create new life

God who has the power to bind us together in love

God who freely gives us God’s Grace and Mercy

God who has the power to come among us

Who Loves us unconditionally

That He came to us

In the form of a small, helpless infant

Jesus Christ, who allowed Himself to be sacrificed

Upon a cruel cross

Came into GLORY through a scandalous death

Given through God, Our Creator

To shatter death

To disrupt and erase the dividing lines that keep us

From being in relationship with the Creator

From being in relationship with one another.

(pause)

So, what will we share around the table this Thanksgiving

About what we are thankful for?

Thankful for the fact that despite our shortcomings,

God, our Redeemer sees us as all of God’s beloved

Thanks Be To God

Epilogue, and No Regrets

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I want to tell you a story-

imagine a neighborhood block-

where there was never any room barely

in crowded streets

 humanity  seemed fluidly  and chaotically merged and crushed one another;

the constant showering of voices in rhythm and in song immersed even the introvert

who simply wanted to huddle in a corner, surrounded by endless knowledge.

One such beauty seemed to weave in and out of each path,

headstrong,

 boisterous

with the knowledge of who she was and whom she belonged.

There was this freedom to explore and to be whom she was called to be,

never backing down from anything or anyone.

The freedom to remain in these global streets-

until twilight danced in endless skies and as any child, it would be time to come in

She still had the freedom to dance, to soak up the sun, to share her love of cooking and feeding others

So sometimes she did not recognize that her companions at the Table left, hearing their names called in hidden whispers

because the twilight she could not see, flickered in their eyes

and then one evening

the house that remained at the end of the block, of the street

The twilight that perhaps she had never bothered to pay attention to, suddenly poured over the horizon

and the House at the end of the Street glowed

and suddenly, clearly, musically 

her name was called

“Hazel! Time to come home!”

and like any child, she dug in her heels and frowned and refused

But then, from the warmth of the Light

those who had been at her table stepped into view, bathed by the Light

“Sister! Come on, we are waiting!”

“Hey Hazel! Come on!”

And she recognized them

and for one brief moment, she turned her head to the cacophony of voices and smells and drama and chaos and how she was needed to feed, and love

and then one loving Voice carried  over , whispering, cradling

Dearest, beloved child of mine…time to come in

time to come home

and she turned her head away from this world…

and my beloved Grandmother, matriarch to our rowdy, boisterous, strong Brown clan,

always central to any family gathering, always present

even in a hospice bed

on a Saturday evening

because we loved her so, bringing delight and family hilarity to her, so she would be a part of everything we held dear

breathed so deeply, as her spirit flew

closed her eyes to this world

and opened it to the eternal Twilight and Peace in the presence of the Creator. 

My Grandmother is gone

and even as who she was, was not there

just as always, family still gathered in that room

in that moment

There is sadness because I will not hear her call me Mae-Mae

or see those beautiful eyes once more

but I count myself blessed

because I had her for so long

thankful of this gift that the Creator gave to all of us.

Lape Bondye, God’s Peace.

A Hard Blog to Write

4427_1152410123409_7888687_nMay, 2009 for my Grandmother Hazel’s birthday-myself and my Tribe

This is a hard post to write.

My cousin posted on Facebook the other day, thanking me for being strong for all of us

Us meaning, our generation in this wonderfully complex clan that the Creator has gifted us with

My Aunt yesterday jokingly questioned how she got in this family and how could she get out of it

while we sat patiently, waiting for social workers

hospice advocates

in the comfortable but crowded hospital room where our matriarch, my Grandmother lay slightly resting in a hospital bed

It should be noted that her doctor had concerns about her health and wanted her to be seen by an ER doctor

It should be noted that my Mother and one of my Aunts had to drive her to U of C

because calling 911 would have diverted her to one of the worst hospitals in the city

It should be noted that perhaps, later on today, I will join my fellow Seminarians in a peaceful protest outside of U of C hospitals

Because it is only if your are privileged living in Hyde Park, or just period

that your trauma will be addressed at U of C

Ironic that this hospital who has had wonderful nurses and doctors to care for my Granny

is the same hospital who has not lived out its call to be a haven of rest, respite and care for all

Perhaps I am leaning on this call against injustice

and not addressing some of the uncertainty I am feeling

I did start out stating this would be a hard blog to write

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Mother, my sisters and Granny

I wrote last week about the genogram I had to work on for my Healthy Leaders/Healthy Congregations class

Who I am in that Genogram is living out

I am my Mother’s child

I am a Seminarian, on the horizon of being Ordained

So therefore I care for those who are a part of me

and a part of my community

But the reality is that my Grandmother has advanced colon cancer

that for months she has barely taken voluntarily any nourishment

and there is nothing that can be done

How angry I was for a moment to learn, as you age

Doctors stop screening for various ailments and illnesses

She could have had this for over 10 years?

But radiation, chemotherapy would not even been appropriate 10 years ago

She’s 94

I wanted to have her around when I graduated, and became ordained

I wanted to have her here when I started my first call

Have her worship one Sunday morning

Now all I could do yesterday was hold her hand

and be thankful for the laughter as many of my extended family just sat around and shared stories

as we always do when we are all together

Not sure how I am feeling, too numb to weep

Thankful for my Seminary Community who reminds me that in this moment of transition

as we wait for the veil to part gently, and for the Creator to cradle her in God’s arms

in this moment I just need to be granddaughter

of a woman who taught me to be proud of who I am

and taught me my heritage through her cooking and baking

This is a hard blog to write

because I don’t know when to grieve.

Ugly Red Lines all over my Genogram

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“So how do you relate to God now,

since your father abandoned you?”

My thoughts as I looked over to my soon to be CPE supervisor were as follows:

“Seriously?”

Who I am and whose I cling to, claim and have been called from along my spiritual journey..

have no bearing on the man who did not see my life as a gift

or value me enough to be a steward in my raising, growing or nurturing as a parent

I’m taking a class called Healthy Leaders/Healthy Congregations as my seminary journey

approaches the horizon

waiting for the heavens to pour out misty, warming rains

as I drive into first call.

Our professor, as a part of the class, asked us to delve into our family history

and do a genogram

which simply speaking

are the emotional attachments we are weaved into one another in our families

What is painful is that more often than not,

people of color’s humbled beginnings are steeped into slavery

so our tribes, our richness has been robbed

and sometimes our genograms resemble an interlocking cacophony of puzzles

Especially when one side of the tree has been stripped bare

hacked off

because one parent did not think it as important to be present

But there is no bitterness, here

These are facts

and I only exude in these moments anger

and joyfulness…

because the Creator has never been absent from my presence

“Through the incarnation

Jesus as human

becomes the epicenter of Christian reality

and resurrects both men and women

as equally loved and called

by God.”

So I acknowledge the ugly red lines on my genogram

I have never suffered

or lacked for want

or for love, for that matter

My wonderful, crazy clan of family surrounds me always

My mother is my strength and my light

The Creator has brought me into a Tribe of my own

and Life does indeed, go on.

Lape Bonye, God’s Peace.