The World has been on Fire; Words that Sooth, that Heal, that Inspire Us to Go Out

Our cornucopia journeys have clashed over these past two weeks.

Our lives as the beloved people have struggled,

as voices that have for so long been silenced,

were now being heard

And voices that once championed for justice and peace

now had other voices speaking for these, newly Ancestors

And voices who for so long attempted to silence the people

were clearly speaking for the people

and their right to exist and be, and live and breathe and love

There had been a call for those of us in the wider Church 

to dedicate this Sunday as one of mourning and repentance

but in this moment, I also realized as I was challenged to be one of those voices

that I also had to meet my sisters and brothers in Christ, right where they are

And so the Holy Spirit in all of Her barefoot wisdom

threw out my Sermon and instead poured this one out of my soul instead.

Perhaps it is not what you have expected of me

but its alright

because in the end

God’s people were fed at God’s Table

and still, go out to impact lives around them

with a simple touch

Lape Bondye.

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we struggle in our acknowledgement of our sins

And stretching out our hands

We boldly proclaim our dependence on God

Accepting the powerful healing

That only comes from the Light of the World,

Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord

Amen.

Touch

It is a powerful emotion

I say emotion because through a touch

One can express empathy,

Sooth sadness

Or speak volumes

Where words are not needed.

(pause)

What stories

Memories

Examples

Come to mind

When we think of the action of Touch?

It’s also sorrowful that I have to emphasize

That we speak here of healthy touch

Because this interaction between one another

Should be considered sacred

Sacred as the touch of a mother to her child

Who lays in bed, ill from chicken pox

Or the common cold

Her gentle hands letting that child know

They will get better soon

(pause)

Or a father who kneels down

To cradle the face of his child in his hands

Reassuring them that those skinned knees will heal soon

Or that their sprained ankle doesn’t look that bad!

(pause)

Touch does not have to be about the fragility of one’s hands

Meeting another’s

The beauty of human touch connected

Through the tools of healing

Seemingly has a powerful, healing purpose in our lives

Calming fears, doubts and our frustrations

Especially when we are taken out of our context

Into unfamiliar spaces

My daughter asked me as we were on our way

To move her into her dorm

“Mother, do you have your oil?”

She wanted me to bless her dorm room

Because you see,

Being in unfamiliar spaces in the midst of chaos

Without things that we can cling to

Things that remind us of our sense of belonging or purpose

Rattles our very being as well fall into states of anxiety

And so,

We shouldn’t be surprised when this oil is asked for

This Holy Chrism Oil upon our own foreheads

With the sign of the Cross

Or cupped in our hands

Graciously placed there by our fellow

Sisters and Brothers in Christ

Reenergizes

Renews us

Especially in those places of sadness and suffering

Because our very being is crying out for relief

And for peace:

 “Come, and lay your hands on me

So that I may be made well

And live.”

(pause)

Our own voices echo in Jarius’s pleas to Jesus

In our Gospel text this morning

We are not immune to the helplessness that Jarius feels

Bound by his limited humanity

Not being able to soothe

This child, who was loved

This child, who had someone to speak for her

Haven’t we experienced these moments

When those who claim us as their own beloved

Have no problem speaking up for us

And our well-being?

(pause)

But what about the well-being of this woman?

This woman who had no status,

This woman who was nameless

This woman whose presence was ignored

By the community around her

She was unclean, unworthy

To be Avoided at all costs!

There was no one to speak for her

There was no one who cared

And her voice, worn with sorrow

Fraught with hopelessness

Is barely auditable as she whispers

“If I but touch his clothes,

I will be made well.”

How many times perhaps,

Along our own life’s journey

Have we encountered the forgotten

in the wider community

Or perhaps those forgotten by loved ones

In our community

whose wretched existence

Without words

Exudes this nameless woman’s plea?

(pause)

So why are these two stories are so intricately connected?

Both are searching, striving for wellness

And the Greek Word for made well, or cure

Sode-zo (σωθῇ )

Carries a different meaning

Reaching far deeper perhaps

Than even Jairus could have surmised

How would these words be welcomed

If we found ourselves falling to our knees exclaiming

“Come, and lay hands upon us

And we will be delivered out of danger

And into the loving arms of security,

That is Jesus Christ our Lord?”

(pause)

How would we embrace these words

If instead we raised our voices hoarsely crying out,

“If I but touch the hem of your garment

I will be rescued from the penalty and power of sin.”  

To be made well means: TO BE SAVED

To be made well means: OUR LIBERATION

It means that in our cries

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

When this world and those in it

Ignore our very being

Declaring us unworthy

Unclean

Our situations miserable

And beyond repair

Jesus Christ commands us to rise from that place of death

REACHING TO TOUCH US in those dark places

Flooding our spirits and hearts with LIGHT

COMMANDING US

CHILD OF GOD, GET UP!

That is the Good News!

(pause)

When we find ourselves with nothing more to lose

And maybe, only a small amount of faith

That still clings to our fragile skin

Or remains crumbled in our hands

And we refuse to let go of the grip we have on God

Scrambling, demanding, pleading

“Will the dust praise you?

Will it tell of your faithfulness?”

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that in our suffering

Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior and Lord

Speaks the healing words of our lives RENEWED

Transformed from the horrible ugliness of the Cross

Into a Resurrected and Renewed LIFE

“Your faith has made you free from sin and death

Go in peace”

Because the Good News is that God’s mercy and grace

Flows freely

That God’s Love continually flows endlessly

(pause)

Touch.

How can we emulate God’s Eternal Love and Grace

Through Touch?

How about putting it this way

How are we sharing the peace with one another

Because in those moments when we are bonding together

Through the action of touch,

God speaks, God heals, God connects

With God’s People.

Thanks Be to God.

Running Away, Turning Away, Getting Away: How Long O Lord?

In the summer of 2009 I accepted a summer position working at a camp in rural IL where I had never been and wondered if they would ever accept me, as a person of color. 

I’ve been returning ever since, to work or to be a part of the work by serving on LOMC’s Board of Directors. 

This is the place where the Creator God spoke to me, and gave me direction and highlighted my path, God’s path in which I was to follow. 

So anytime the world gets to chaotic and crazy and hectic, I return here for sancity and sanctuary.

Yesterday, the word was even more uglier, and my spirit was drained and worn.

When asked to bring a witness and theology to counselors-to-be, I jumped at the chance.

Connecting with young teens, stressing to them why they have to be the Light and needing to see the Light in one another was fulfilling and healing for me. 

The elephant in the room: Racism and the Theological Journey to Transformative Justice

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Post Graduation, this should be a time for celebration and for relaxation,

but perhaps ministry isn’t meant to remain calm in still waters.

With everything that has transpired 

and the struggle continuing

there is the opportunity to live out the movement of Pentecost

Below is thworkshop that I will be presenting at my Seminary’s Leadership conference

http://www.lstc.edu/events/conferences/2015-conference/

“The doctrine of justification does not mean our exemption from the Christian’s responsibility to serve others, rather it is our insurance of such service” Dr. Rudy Featherstone, Theology and the Black Experience.

With regard to the social unrest in our world today, those who are attending Seminary or Divinity Schools have the freedom to be immersed in an academic bubble where more often than not, the worries and sorrows of the world rarely seep in. However, as people of faith travel from different paths into these sacred spaces, we do bring baggage with us which sometimes comes in the form of racism. Racism, which is an ugly word, is shoved into an abstract thinking process and relegated to a horrific action that happens “out there” instead of recognizing that racism poisons even the greatest of minds. It has the capability to be formed theologically to justify why we, as sisters and brothers in Christ, do not necessarily follow Jesus Christ’s directives about loving one another as we love ourselves and failing to recognize that all lives are sacred. Through the viewpoint of the Theology of the Cross, via theologian James Cone and others, we will explore ways that our theology can begin to eradicate racism. We will start with ourselves and some of the baggage we bring and look at how we can begin to transform our classrooms from the abstract to the practical, showing how the public church witness can aid in the holistic healing of our troubled Creation, community by community

Follow the #EracismSeminary during the Conference June 16-18