Wilderness Wandering- Sermonizing in Lent

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Even as we cling to what is comfortable

We are reminded of our presence in this wilderness

To testify to the Goodness of God’s Word

And of the Good News that is Jesus Christ

Amen.

A couple of years ago,

I had the opportunity to participate

in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C

Over that weekend, we participated in marches

Especially as the Health Insurance/Health Care issue debate

Was beginning

We stood in front of the Supreme Court building

Witnessing and singing and praying

We held signs showing our support

Because, this is what we are called to do

I remember this moment

Because it has been the only time

In all my protesting and advocacy

That I have personally come face to face

With those who must be considered as too,

People of God

But their tongue could only be translated as hatred

They lashed out, physically got into our space

Damned us that we were not people of God

Because we were not true to the American ideals

(pause)

So we should not be too surprised

When some mornings we awake to the brilliance of the day

And wonder why God left us in the midst

Of this desolate wilderness

(pause)

Maybe I should phrase it like this-

Do you all know that song by Stevie Wonder

“You took me riding in your rocket

You gave me a star

But at a half a mile from heaven

You dropped me back to this cold, cold world”

(pause, wait for laughter, etc before continuing)

Those words could perfectly paint a picture

of how our soul is left sighing

Because we feel as if we are wandering through this wilderness alone

Leaving us with the question

Of why we are even here?

What impact are we even making?

When we can’t even replenish this starving,

Crumbled soil in our hands

That is never given the opportunity

To receive fresh flowing water

That is only seen as places to throw away refuse, garbage,

Or a place to build something that will return wealth, prestige

Instead of returning back to the community,

An opportunity to celebrate the gifts of the Creator God

And the bond that we have with one another

(pause)

Or struggling to cradle fragile lives in our hands

Lives of our sisters and brothers in Christ

That lay in ditches, on the corners of cold concrete

That peer back out at us from the middle of 55th street

Their worn hands empty

That are only viewed as a commodity to fill up prison cells

And assembly line sweat shops

(pause)

We are reduced to a tangled mess of frustration

Because the Holy Spirit drives us out into this wilderness

Finding ourselves marching down city streets

Raising our voices in anger for black and brown bodies

Rejected to access to simply being allowed to breathe

In prayer for the basic human right to exist

As who God has created us to be

Being a witness to the truth

That we are commanded to be caretakers

Not consumers

Of this Creation

Being an advocate as we stand in front of a detention center

When our brothers and sisters in Christ haven’t even been given a chance

(pause)

We find that those we encounter

Those that we are called to share this Good News

Offer up only vacant stares

Because this world sometimes sucks every aspect of moisture, of our lives, right out of us

Because this world can be so harsh

People would rather resort to every person for themselves

Survival of the fittest,

And violate sacred space with their jeers

Why are you wasting your time, out here marching for those people?

You should be only concerned with saving people’s souls, then they will be obedient and not belligerent

Is this what they are teaching you in Seminary, to be disrespectful to established authority?”

(pause)

In reading our Gospel Text this morning,

Have we thought about perhaps

What questions or lamenting Jesus experienced?

Here in Mark, we are not aware of the conversations-

It should be noted

That Jesus has been driven into, instead of led by

The same Spirit which carefully bathed and cradled Him

In life giving Waters

(pause)

Did Jesus speak out into the nothingness

Singing “To you O Lord, I lift up my soul?”

Or in those moments

Jesus experienced what it means to be human

To be wracked with fear and with sorrow

Peppering the ground with questions

Unsure of the meaning

Of being in this wilderness

You’ve affirmed me, surrounded me with Light

The whole world knows I am yours-

And then you cast me out? Into this?

For what?

(pause)

You’ve given me this mission

Called me to this Ministry

Surrounded me in a place where I am affirmed

And then you force me out the door-

So that I walk with strangers down a street

So I stand on a government building holding a sign

So I sit on the cold ground blocking the way

So I can get spat on, kicked upon

Locked up

So a complete stranger can challenge my humanity,

My witness

My following of YOU, Jesus.

Why me?

Why am I out here-

Why can’t I just jump through the hoops

And do what I need to do

And find some secure place, with a nice salary

Where I never have to muddy the waters

Or challenge the status quo?

Nothing is working

They are not listening

No One cares enough to join me

I am tired of doing this alone

I.Give.UP”

(pause)

But see, we are not alone-

Not in this wilderness, no

Because THIS IS WHY JESUS CHRIST was THRUST

INTO the WILDERNESS-

Jesus Christ stood in the face of evil

Of the darkness

And told Satan, “No, not today Satan, Not today.”

NOT EVER

The Good News is that Jesus Christ’s presence

Let this world know

Let negativity, evil know

This world does not belong to YOU

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS HERE, NOW

That this wilderness can turn towards the blinding, healing

Loving LIGHT OF GOD

Turning away that which keeps this world, that keeps us

From the presence of God

Because Jesus Christ put Himself in the midst of destruction

Gave Himself over to Death

Sacrificed His Life on the CROSS

So that when we enter the wilderness in our lives

We are reminders to evil and to this world

That The KINGDOM OF GOD is still Present!

When we march down the street, singing

“I know one thing we did right,

Was the day we started to fight,

Keep your Eyes on the Prize, O Lord”

We push back against those who refuse to see

That we are all called, as sisters and brothers in Christ

That our witness, our testimony,

That we are the angels in the wilderness

Because of who we are-

We are Beloved of God,

And God is well pleased with Us!

Thanks Be To God.

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Even as we cling to what is comfortable

We are reminded of our presence in this wilderness

To testify to the Goodness of God’s Word

And of the Good News that is Jesus Christ

Amen.

A couple of years ago,

I had the opportunity to participate

in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington D.C

Over that weekend, we participated in marches

Especially as the Health Insurance/Health Care issue debate

Was beginning

We stood in front of the Supreme Court building

Witnessing and singing and praying

We held signs showing our support

Because, this is what we are called to do

I remember this moment

Because it has been the only time

In all my protesting and advocacy

That I have personally come face to face

With those who must be considered as too,

People of God

But their tongue could only be translated as hatred

They lashed out, physically got into our space

Damned us that we were not people of God

Because we were not true to the American ideals

(pause)

So we should not be too surprised

When some mornings we awake to the brilliance of the day

And wonder why God left us in the midst

Of this desolate wilderness

(pause)

Maybe I should phrase it like this-

Do you all know that song by Stevie Wonder

“You took me riding in your rocket

You gave me a star

But at a half a mile from heaven

You dropped me back to this cold, cold world”

(pause, wait for laughter, etc before continuing)

Those words could perfectly paint a picture

of how our soul is left sighing

Because we feel as if we are wandering through this wilderness alone

Leaving us with the question

Of why we are even here?

What impact are we even making?

When we can’t even replenish this starving,

Crumbled soil in our hands

That is never given the opportunity

To receive fresh flowing water

That is only seen as places to throw away refuse, garbage,

Or a place to build something that will return wealth, prestige

Instead of returning back to the community,

An opportunity to celebrate the gifts of the Creator God

And the bond that we have with one another

(pause)

Or struggling to cradle fragile lives in our hands

Lives of our sisters and brothers in Christ

That lay in ditches, on the corners of cold concrete

That peer back out at us from the middle of 55th street

Their worn hands empty

That are only viewed as a commodity to fill up prison cells

And assembly line sweat shops

(pause)

We are reduced to a tangled mess of frustration

Because the Holy Spirit drives us out into this wilderness

Finding ourselves marching down city streets

Raising our voices in anger for black and brown bodies

Rejected to access to simply being allowed to breathe

In prayer for the basic human right to exist

As who God has created us to be

Being a witness to the truth

That we are commanded to be caretakers

Not consumers

Of this Creation

Being an advocate as we stand in front of a detention center

When our brothers and sisters in Christ haven’t even been given a chance

(pause)

We find that those we encounter

Those that we are called to share this Good News

Offer up only vacant stares

Because this world sometimes sucks every aspect of moisture, of our lives, right out of us

Because this world can be so harsh

People would rather resort to every person for themselves

Survival of the fittest,

And violate sacred space with their jeers

Why are you wasting your time, out here marching for those people?

You should be only concerned with saving people’s souls, then they will be obedient and not belligerent

Is this what they are teaching you in Seminary, to be disrespectful to established authority?”

(pause)

In reading our Gospel Text this morning,

Have we thought about perhaps

What questions or lamenting Jesus experienced?

Here in Mark, we are not aware of the conversations-

It should be noted

That Jesus has been driven into, instead of led by

The same Spirit which carefully bathed and cradled Him

In life giving Waters

(pause)

Did Jesus speak out into the nothingness

Singing “To you O Lord, I lift up my soul?”

Or in those moments

Jesus experienced what it means to be human

To be wracked with fear and with sorrow

Peppering the ground with questions

Unsure of the meaning

Of being in this wilderness

You’ve affirmed me, surrounded me with Light

The whole world knows I am yours-

And then you cast me out? Into this?

For what?

(pause)

You’ve given me this mission

Called me to this Ministry

Surrounded me in a place where I am affirmed

And then you force me out the door-

So that I walk with strangers down a street

So I stand on a government building holding a sign

So I sit on the cold ground blocking the way

So I can get spat on, kicked upon

Locked up

So a complete stranger can challenge my humanity,

My witness

My following of YOU, Jesus.

Why me?

Why am I out here-

Why can’t I just jump through the hoops

And do what I need to do

And find some secure place, with a nice salary

Where I never have to muddy the waters

Or challenge the status quo?

Nothing is working

They are not listening

No One cares enough to join me

I am tired of doing this alone

I.Give.UP”

(pause)

But see, we are not alone-

Not in this wilderness, no

Because THIS IS WHY JESUS CHRIST was THRUST

INTO the WILDERNESS-

Jesus Christ stood in the face of evil

Of the darkness

And told Satan, “No, not today Satan, Not today.”

NOT EVER

The Good News is that Jesus Christ’s presence

Let this world know

Let negativity, evil know

This world does not belong to YOU

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS HERE, NOW

That this wilderness can turn towards the blinding, healing

Loving LIGHT OF GOD

Turning away that which keeps this world, that keeps us

From the presence of God

Because Jesus Christ put Himself in the midst of destruction

Gave Himself over to Death

Sacrificed His Life on the CROSS

So that when we enter the wilderness in our lives

We are reminders to evil and to this world

That The KINGDOM OF GOD is still Present!

When we march down the street, singing

“I know one thing we did right,

Was the day we started to fight,

Keep your Eyes on the Prize, O Lord”

We push back against those who refuse to see

That we are all called, as sisters and brothers in Christ

That our witness, our testimony,

That we are the angels in the wilderness

Because of who we are-

We are Beloved of God,

And God is well pleased with Us!

Thanks Be To God.

Transformed in the Dying Embers of Lent-The Draft Commences!

 

photo (1)

Ash Wednesday was a bit of a distraction yesterday in many of our lives…

Ash Wednesday humbly reminds us of what our submission to the Creator should be

as we kneel in the dustiness of the Earth

Five years prior during the ending of an immense Summer, I found myself in this familiar space

Weeping

Because this journey lay ahead of me, and I shed those clothes of comfort

for ones of ordinary

Five years later, I found myself in this familiar place

Weeping

Because the ashes across my forehead reminded me of how the Creator has carried me throughout this journey

And yes, how this journey was now just the beginning

In our hands were white envelopes

Draping myself and my fellow Senior M.Div’ers in new clothing

Transforming us in that moment with travelers to a destination

Steeped in the Holy Spirit

I wonder do those who were at the table a few days prior understand

your encouragement of us into delving into everything theological

has sparked the spirit of discipleship that can not be quenched?

That we are called to set this world aflame?

With the Good News?

Do you understand I will not preach just about selfish salvation?

But that I will challenge those who have been sleeping,

To be AWAKE?

My call to this ministry and mission is as a footstep follower of Christ

I refuse to be silent

Your protests, hesitancy, grumblings, unwillingness will go unheeded

The Church must CHANGE

This world must HEAL

and I shall march in the Light of the Most High

Proclaiming, Preaching, Living

Bonded as a community of faith in that moment, we opened those envelopes telling us where we would go. There is still some mystery as we wait for Synod Assignments, there is still much to be done..

but my journey is renewed.

Lape Bondye

On the Brink..

And when the sun runs out
No doubts left standing
(Who knows if it’ll go our way)

But as the Creator’s Children all we are able to do is wait, watch and be prayerful

And when the sun runs out
No doubts left standing
(Insha Allah, it’ll be okay)

I think of those sacred words Insha Allah, and how the world seemingly is imploding on itself

Three beautiful souls now rest, cradled in the Creator’s arms

The simple impact they made on this world will never be forgotten

Simply because they heard the Call to love and to give of themselves, as neighbor

Lord, won’t you grant me
New eyes, so I can see
What good are songs with no dances
I wanna live to live and take my chances

Why is our vision and gaze so gritty to where we refuse to wipe the mud from our eyes?

Instead of scrutinizing, chastising, mocking our sisters and brothers in Christ, In Faith, In Love

Because of being beautifully different as the Creator carved, painted and molded us

Why are we not embracing the journey-and reaching out to those along the way, who may have stumbled, fallen, or are lost…

just as we have experienced this life?

I wanna live today
Leave inhibitions in the wind
What good are songs with no dances, I pray
Lord, won’t you grant me, won’t you grant me
Lord, won’t you grant me


Stretching out in the midst of a fragile, faint glimmer of a sunrise,

I wish I was able to do that.

This weekend I find myself asking the Creator to Grant Me

Peace.

Lape Bondye

Insha’ Allah

Back to Life, Back to Reality-and a Restlessness

I was waiting for this…

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Emerging from where my soul settled wrestling and struggling as life does indeed go on…

 1378576_10205658575011826_2474265025368734722_n

So this was the offensive photo where my fellow Seminarians from all walks of life

merged to join our voices and ourselves in solidarity with the whole of those who had been forgotten, unjustly.

Interestingly enough we are encouraged when our spirits shine that we have clearly heard the Creator calling

But rebutted and renounced when we truly take up the Call-

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners”

I wonder will communities of faith be accepting of the authentic me-

because who I have been crafted and cradled by the Creator God

I refuse to assimilate

I am called to challenge, provoke, raise awareness

living out my life attempting to follow in the Risen Christ’s footsteps

Tomorrow begins anew…and truly the beginning of the end..

The ending of this five year journey of questing, wandering, stumbling and realizing..

The last Semester of Seminary

And looking forward to dancing on the horizon

of something truly wonderful

#16daysandcounting

Watch out Church..

Kicking open the doors.