What’s in a Name? #decolonizeGod’sName

An article that was just shared on the ELCA Facebook page, highlighted a shocking event where the PCUSA dared to participate in a prayer to God….simply because they spoke the name of God as..

Allah

When did we have copyright on what God’s Name should be?

I’m not understanding why we get all worked up when we use all of the expressions for God

I am a part of this movement to #decolonizeAllTheThings, specifically around religion and especially as..

#decolonizeLutheranism

Ase,

Ameen

Peace Be Upon You

Blessed Be.

 

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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…

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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.

Living through My Purpose and Living throughout the Promise

Restoring-Creation_article

The unknown has always left me curling my toes and gripping the platform of life so tightly

I believed that if I just remained still, rooted and grounded, I would be safe

I allowed other to be thrust into the brilliance of sunbeams

But somehow, I always found myself there

As we have been taking the Gospel to the streets, in this new Civil Rights Movement, my husband and I have participated in many smaller marches, with people unknown

One such gathering turned into a march down a South Side street, and as I attempted to move out of the organizers way, somehow I was at the front-even as I shifted several times, there I was

I suppose humorously this has been a reflection of my life these past five years

This year slowly, at least in the here and now, is beginning to bow from the stage

This journey has been bittersweet

I continued this path and purpose the Creator has placed me on

Sometimes with tears

Sometimes with joy

Always full of questions, wandering and wondering

Watching the horizons which seemingly have rushed up to meet me

Watching those who this part of the journey is over, lift their hands in sending and with their love

Hearing one voice sooth me over all of the rest, a gift from the Creator

the knowledge that beyond my journey, there is an adventure waiting

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For now, I cradle the gift that the Creator has bestowed upon me,

delight in it

study it

wonder about it

be content with it

this purpose of sharing my witness

carrying with me the Gospel

to flood the streets with the Creator God’s unconditional love for all of us

Lape Bondye

Curtains Drawn, the Mirror still reflecting and Beyond

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My  very being seemingly feels as if this is a moment of waiting

So very thankful to be in this moment, however, as the horizon raises up to meet me

even as my heart still refuses to vacate from the Cradle of the Creator’s hands

The morning of my Approval Meeting

my very being wept

I know the Creator walks with me, surrounds me but how fearful was I

and how I called out for strength

and how I called out for My Granny

and how the reverberating memory of her thoughtful gaze

and the reverberating power of life eternal

echoed as I heard her call me, beyond….

And so what journey God had brought and laid out before me came to fruition

and so now I wait…

Shiny, new, Approved for Ordination

What else does the Creator have in store for me?

My daughter inquired where I would like to serve-

Wouldn’t I wish to go elsewhere?

I am just thankful that there are those who recognize and welcome the gifts the Creator gives me

I go, where God sends

I go, where the Holy Spirit leads

I go, where Christ calls

I go, and my Ancestors dance, encouraging, loving, guiding me

Because God’s word, more so now than at any time needs to be heard

Because My People are crying out for justice

Because we are-beloved of God…

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At the Crossroads

Twilight within my heart

There is a chanting within my blood

There are voices raised

but you are not privy

There is a presence

but you are not aware

Aware of the heaviness that weighs

of the beauty

connected with the ancestors

in sacred spaces

All I want to do is dance

All I want is for these people to disperse

All I wanted to do

was remain on the floor

and hold her hand

All I’ve wanted

was to return to a time

when I was small

and she was full of life

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full of life that is equal

Equal to how we fluidly came

into sacred spaces

Spaces that shift, move and breathe

Can’t you see the dew

Can’t you feel the wind

Can’t you hear the Creator’s calling

I guess that’s why we are here, right?10404448_10154861562655532_8486268226180457325_n

All we’ve ever wanted

is to be seen as full of ruach

of the essence of the Creator

in sacred spaces

Sacred in this room filled

Sacred outside on sidewalks

filled with people

People who raised their voices

People who perhaps don’t see me as different

Different because my skin is a memory of ancestry

Ancestry steeped in the rhythm

Rhythm of drums that still cause me to rise

Raise my head proudly

Proud because that is the crown of hope I carry

Carrying the stories of the divine imprint

fingerprint we all share

Sharing one body, one blood

is frightening to some

Because that means when they raise their fist

those weapons

Trying to erase their sins

looped over and again throughout the ages

The scars show up on different facesimagesferguson

But the pain is still ugly

ugliness in the fact of the demands to assimilate

Assmilate

eradicate

Forget

Forgive

Forgiving roots us in our

connection to the Divine

Divine Creator

Comforter of our Souls

Souls which are Black

because that is how the Creator painted us

From Blackness was Birthed

The Essence

The Life

Look, the Heavens are Cradled in Blacknesseca5f51f2aafc202c7d5f61bcd9e51ca

with reminders of the power of the Holy Spirit

Spirit sparkling as stars

Stars each illuminating

The Love that God has

This Blackness that God cradles us

We, too, God’s Creation

Creating,

Manifesting,

Living

Breathing

Magnifying who we are in each step

Steps of joy, of wonder

Steps running through fields

Steps running away from fear

Steps running to someone arms

Steps running into the veil

Because of GOD

They made a mistake

Because this life sometimes makes

folks run blindly

Blinded because they are blinded

Not seeing this child, that boy

that woman, this man

As their sisters and brothers

bonded by the BloodCivil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon.

We are different from our journeys

Journeys that are winding

Breathing

Failing

Falling

Struggling

Reaching

Reaching up from the floor

where we sat

holding her hand

as she lay dying

weeping, remembering

watching the dancing

of the saints and ancestors

surrounding the crossroads

where my Savior stood

who welcomes us home

who welcomes our presence

to stand at the crossroads

in the shadow

of the foolishness

of God

And So It Begins

And So It Begins

This is confident, non-preaching day me…..

………..And then Life happens……

It’s week 2 beginning of my 12 week journey as Solo Gypsy Preaching extraordinaire…

But illness and fever for two days…for chaos in the office…..

For death who ignorantly interrupted my “normal” work week flow….

Thankful for all of you who are following this blog and my journey through internship…

Thankful for the reviving, renewing Holy Spirit saving power to get me through…

And now back you your regularly scheduled sermons….

In peace, and God’s Love,
The Gypsy Woman

The Sacredness of Salt

Grace and Peace to you from God Our Creator and from His Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

At my home congregation of Zion Lutheran Church on the South Side of Chicago, celebrating baptisms in our community is a joyous event whether we are welcoming a newborn babe…

…or a weary traveler along life’s journey, who has found a permanent place to be rested and be welcomed.

But there was something curious about the rite of Baptism in the African American Lutheran hymnal, This Far by Faith that stood out from other Lutheran Churches regarding the rite of Baptism

After the candidate for baptism is baptized, my Pastor would present them with sacred symbols of their baptism, besides the candle, which symbolizes that they, that all of us are the light of the world; there was also a gift of a garment, mostly a rich and beautiful swathing of African Kente cloth and finally one which was….salt!

The salt is placed in their mouths or given to their parents (in the case of babies) and these words are said “You are the salt of the earth. Receive the salt of wisdom, that you may conduct your life with the sound judgment of a child of God.”

How ordinary that something so simple as salt is essential to our lives as people of God!

 

Salt has been a presence in the history of this Earth from preserving foods to currency to a cure all….

…but what about the sacredness in purifying and connecting us to God?

My journey into this exploration took me further, with rituals and traditions I was already aware of….

In West Africa, the Edo people use native chalk mixed with salt during the naming ceremony of a newborn babe that symbolizes happiness…..

With the Igarra people, the elder places several small amounts of elements into the baby’s mouth one of which includes Salt, meaning “No one eats salt and speaks bad of it”….

The Yorbua People in Nigeria, Benin and Togo also do the same, with salt representing wisdom and intelligence.

(pause)

How ordinary that something as simple as salt is so essential to the sacredness of our lives, something that we can not live without…

……just as the Gospel is impossible to separate from who we are as sisters and brothers in Christ, something that we can not live without.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was trying to stress and teach His disciples then and now in our Gospel text this morning.

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can saltiness be restored?”

How confusing it must have Jesus’s words been to His disciples as well as us today. How can salt lose the essential part of what salt is and what it means to a people…..

…..unless we return and are reminded of the symbols and meanings of an ancient African culture and people and realize that perhaps what Jesus is speaking and conveying to His disciples and to us, is referring to wisdom.

Salt that loses what is essential to what salt is, renders salt useless.

The disciples, who were a part of this saltiness of the Earth along with other children of God, created because God saw them and us an essential part of God’s Creation…

To add flavor through our songs, our language, our celebrations, our living and breathing to this life

To preserve what God Our Redeemer had given and gifted to God’s people…this fragile, precious Creation and everything within and throughout it

If the disciples lose what is essential, losing the wisdom and intelligence…

Losing what the Holy Spirit would pour into their very being and in us too what binds us together as sisters and brothers in Christ…

Then it renders them, and us, foolish.

It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”

Can salt lose its savor?

Scholars point out that impure salt dug from the Dead Sea could in fact, lose some of its…if not all of its saltiness.

But that seems farfetched right?

Could the disciples lose their saltiness?

Doesn’t Scripture have many examples where the disciples struggled, balked, forgot what Jesus Christ not only taught them but who He was and what joyousness and righteousness He brought into all of their lives and into our lives as well?

Jesus seems to be challenging the disciples and warning us too today,

Of being wary not to be filled with foolishness.

Foolishness in the form of not functioning as God had commanded and infused into who they were as disciples…

By not sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ was bringing to all of God’s People…

By not believing in the miracles and the teachings that Jesus shared with them…

By falling to the wayside and falling into dark ditches of ignorance, where fear dwelled.

By losing what was essential to who they were, their saltiness…

Can we, as children of God lose our saltiness?

When a child of God loses their direction, their calling to stand as a living witness to what the Good News of Jesus Christ means for all of God’s People and not just a few….

When a child of God loses their voice and refuses to speak out against injustice because she feels there is nothing that she can do or can offer…

When a child of God loses their resolve to speak out for his fellow fallen brothers and sisters who have been forgotten because he feels that this fight is futile…

When the children of God loses and throws away gifts from God, Our Healer of grace

Of mercy

Of Love

Of forgiveness

And does not share these with the entire body of Christ

THAT, my brothers and sisters….

THAT is when we are rendered foolish

THAT is when we lose our saltiness.

But…

Even in our weakness,

Even in our struggles

Even in our weeping,

The Good News is that God does not leave us helpless.

The Good News is that when we do not have what we feel are the perfect or right words to profess God’s righteousness..

We have an Advocate.

We have an Advocate in the Holy Spirit “so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but the power of God.”

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that we have another Advocate in Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord!

Jesus Christ proclaims to us that He “comes not to abolish the law or the prophets, but comes to fulfill.”

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World floods our world…

Our lives….and our souls with His Eternal Light!

Jesus Christ comes to fulfill God’s Promises to us as children of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ and in Faith to never throw us out or trample us underfoot.

That through God’s Word-Jesus Christ empowers us to be a light unto all the nations..

To share and salt this Earth with the Good News of what Jesus Christ shares with all of Creation…

Because without that Good News

Without the Sacredness of God’s Salt…

Our lives would be worth nothing…

And therefore allowing the wretchedness of this world to throw us out…

And trample us underfoot.

(pause)

But because God adds this sacred salt to this stew of our lives…

…just as salt preserves the richness in our foods

So does the sacred salt which is the Gospel, preserving our lives!

…just as salt flavors and uplifts foods which satisfies our physical cravings

So does the sacred salt, which is infused in the bread, in the body of Jesus Christ which satisfies our spiritual hunger

….just as salt can heal anything from our aching throat to our weary muscles and our tired body

So does the sacred salt which is the Word immersed in the Waters of Baptism…to soothe the pain deeply embedded within our being and washes over our sins, making us whole.

…just as salt could even be used to purchased precious metals or gold in ancient times

So does the sacred salt that is in the wine, that is the blood of Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord

Through His sacrifice purchased, paid the price…

For our freedom

Bonded eternally

Marked with the sign of the Cross

To the Triune God.

How extraordinary that something so simple as salt is essential to our lives.

How extraordinary that something so freeing as The Word is essential for our lives.

How beautiful that something so stirring as our witness is essential in all of our lives.

This Salt will remain with us, and perhaps we won’t think about salt the same way again will we?

The African American blues/jazz singer Lizz Wright in her song entitled “Salt” seemed to echo this meaning…

(It must be, it must be true
You cant separate the two oh no, you cant
Its impossible to do just like the salt in the stew
Oh my, its all apart of you)

Because our voice, our song, our witness, our discipleship is paramount in this life…

Because nothing that this life can possibly do..

Can remove the sacred salt from you..

Thanks Be To God.

Reclaiming Twilight and the Holy Spirit

The memory of standing snug in the Observatory and being close enough to touch the darkness over the summer still resonates within my soul.

My apologizes for not posting for some time but the Semester raced by me as I rested in the Valley, gripping my hand and pulling me close onto the beautiful roan speckled horse, speeding towards the mists of Avalon.

As I had been contemplating where I should sit among black sandy beaches of Theology there was exposed to my soul an entirely new way that I should view this ministry and mission that the Creator has set my being sail on. I did not realize that what I was voicing actually had a name: ancestral theology. I did not realize what Pneumentology actually would mean to who I was as a child of God and as a Gypsy sitting hidden, watching in the shadow of the Cross. I did not realize how much people’s souls pour out into their poetry, their songs and what the artistic means for us as people of Faith.

God meant for us as His children to joyfully cry out in songs and praise for it is there He is closer to our hearts and in our presence more than we will know.

As for me, although I had reluctantly donned the humorous costume of the Wise Woman, apparently I still make My Father eternally laugh. He reaches across time and space and pulls out the weeping gray cloud weeds I had planted, reaching in and cradling the richness of the Earth. My voice was lost in sadness carried by soft, warm summer rains and all He could do was smile. “Daughter of many colors, I am not done with you yet.”

Lape Bondye, God’s Peace.

United and Not in Anger…

Why can not people see outside their horizon of vision at what God has in store for them?

Monday morning I awoke to disturbing news: One of my classmates had been reported missing by his family:

http://oaklawn.patch.com/articles/police-resume-search-for-missing-oak-lawn-man

Our Seminary community has ebbed and flowed into a close-knit caring community of Seminarians and educators who are connected because how the trees have swayed and spoken to our spirits from God who has called us to this ministry. We struggle and laugh and learn no matter where we walk from in our common journey of spirituality. When one of us suffers, it all impacts us.

As news and social media began to unravel this story, and as members of the community shared this many asked “What we could do?” What could we do but come together as brothers and sisters in Christ and pray, and so I asked and organized a prayer vigil for Monday evening. I sent word out to our local churches, as well as listserves of fellow/former seminarians now pastors and Churchwise, our national church body.

I asked for prayers.

One former seminarian posted this after stating she would pray “There is a lot of depression at LSTC.”

Depression lurks and seeps into various gardens in this life. Teachers are depressed at the bureocracy they face in their schools and the lack of parential involvement in their classrooms; Police officers and firefighters are despondent because of the horrors of what we as human beings do to each other on a daily basis; Pastors and church leaders are trapped in despair because of that lack of love in this world and because of the pain that comes crashing through their doors and how inefficient pastoral care band aids sometimes are.

We as seminarians are bogged down with massive loan debit, with essays proving that we are worthy of the call God has set before us; papers and balancing job and study life; stresses of families that we must care for. Sometimes we retreat into safe, silver bubbles where no one can reach or speak or harm us; we forget to extend a loving hand to those around us who are experiencing the same suffering; we do not practice self care.

To say that there is a lot of depression within our community is false-for where there is darkness, candles carried by loving hands are lit. People are prayed over and for; tears are shed and those who feel as if no one hears, they are heard. We join in one strong voice asking the power of the Holy Spirit to descend, to envelop and to drown our sorrows so that we are once more able to walk in the light, passing the peace to others and infecting all with God’s Good News and Grace.

That comment made me understandably angry. There is nothing that I can do to erase perhaps our church’s not thinking outside the box with her specific call BUT listening to the winds which pour love from the eternal Valley and rain down upon our heads, we formulate how we can continue God’s mission for us in new and different ways.

There is a reason why He has called us, all of us to doing His Will and mission. We must remove the rose colored fabric from our gaze and be vulnerable to the piercing light of Heaven.

You Can’t Go Home Again?

..or can you?

This past May, I ended my year of Ministry in Context or in layman’s terms my year of serving and learning in a teaching parish. This church has a richness in its liturgy and ritual which can reach throughout Creation and connect us along with prayer in a sacred relationship to the Most High.

But, as the phrase goes this meant that I was ruined for any other church setting. This meant that I carried the beautiful ballet that evolved from each rising of a Sunday morn with me wherever my Gypsy soul traveled. This also meant that because my spirit had been swirled and poured out into the rushing waters of life, that my gaze would now view the world before me critically.

There had been an occurrence of this several months ago when I returned to my home parish celebrating the life of a long standing, long serving member and as seen as one of the young leaders in my congregation when asked, I served during the funeral wherever I was needed.

Gypsies are seen as wanderers, laying their heads wherever they can, greeting the day however they choose, carving out life what order they wish.

This Gypsy, however craves order and ritual.

The funeral was one of uncreative chaos and I found myself struggling to remain afloat; I found myself rushing for the serene sands along the banks of this river, wanting to never be swept into this calamity again.

Discernment of this call to ministry finds one alone surrounded by a lower prairie of green peering to see the fragile violets that wind slowly around the earthen goddesses. We are now open to how worship works, what we should be listening for and how order plays a massive role in fellowship, hearing Good News and kicking open the doors of the church.

So as this summer waned and bowed from the stage of Life, I was cringing about returning to this congregation who had lifted me up from drowning waters and gave me rebirth so that my soul could hear what the Creator was speaking. I needed the rhythmic chanting and prayers ascending as incense; I needed the communal feeling before the Table.

Yet I knew that none of us as children of God are perfect and in my own imperfection I should pay homage to this, my family as Sunday rolled around. And as I swept through those doors greeting and sharing the peace with familiar faces I realized that this place would always be open as a beacon of wondrous light for me; that God had nurtured me here so that He could send me out, elsewhere…