The Invisible Becomes Visible-Wisdom from the Ancestors

Turn to your neighbor

And say

“Because of Jesus Christ

I am

Responsible

For

You.”

(pause, wait for the laughter)

Now what does that mean, really?

(pause)

We hear in our Scriptures

That we will always have the poor

But,

I don’t think that Jesus,

Nor our Creator God

Wanted poverty to become

Tangled and obtrusive

Into the fabric

Of our collective lives

(pause)

Life,

Its algorithms,

Which are supposed to follow some mysterious formula

To make our living easier

Is out of sync

(pause)

This country boasts of its coffers

That are overflowing with wealth, riches and resources

Yet,

Beyond the glitter of the spotlights

Lie destitute, famished bodies overflowing

At the gates

(pause)

My children have, on our routine errands to the grocery store,

For example

Question and wonder about what happens to all of the produce,

If they can’t sell it all,

Even if its still good.

Well, not sure you are aware of this

But after seven to ten days

If the bananas you have been seeing each time you pop into the store

If they have not been touched or bought

They are forced to throw them out,

So they can get a fresh shipment,

From their warehouse

(pause)

When humanity refused to peer out beyond the border,

Past the walls,

Too sedated and comfortable awash in a sea of purple

Those who had not been invited through,

This is when those who had little status,

Seeing the heartbreak, acted

In the 1970’s, for example in San Francisco

Organizations such as Food Not Bombs were formed

Rescuing good, unspoiled and healthy food from dumpsters

Cooking and providing a meal,

To the homeless and forgotten

And the response of the authorities?

Many of these volunteers were arrested

(pause)

This trend continues even now

People, who have answered the call,

“Jesus, when did we see you hungry,

And feed you?”

Embolden because of the Holy Spirit pushing, encouraging, empowering them

To walk beyond the gates,

And DO SOMETHING!

Instead of immersing themselves in apathy

And the excuses of the principalities and powers

Blaming the poor,

For

They share of themselves,

From their Table

Bringing meals, and comfort to those out in the streets, or parks

Or even, into the safety and the sacredness of their own spaces

(pause)

One Woman of Color,

Owning her own small diner

Did just this

She invited,

She welcomed the homeless midweek,

From 6-9am,

To eat and relax and just be recognized just as another customer

Freely!

Instead of businesses around her, applauding,

Opening dialogue for discussion

Pushing back the gate to begin

Many complained,

They didn’t want to see the poor

SO CLOSE TO THEM

Inside the gate

These

Vagrants,

Pungent

Unkempt

Scaring away paying customers

So because of the complaints to the powerful

She was forced,

To stop

For fear of her business being shut down,

Because of rules and regulations

(pause)

And it does not have to stop at just food justice issues,

Regardless,

Whenever we as people of faith see a need,

When we understand the responsibility of stewardship

We have for one another,

Whether we are feeding from our own coffers

Or immersed in viable solutions about housing the homeless

Building tiny homes,

Which in fact, has been proven

To save local governments monetary resources,

Instead of scattered temporary solutions that treat the poor as an infections problem,

To be eradicated.

Or encouraging children, who don’t understand why the adults in charge

Are so thoughtless and heartless

To treat another person,

With

When we create unique and even yes, unorthodox ways,

To create new communities, and care for one another

The rich, wealthy, powerful intrudes

As if suddenly,

Doing for others,

As God has done for us

Is taboo

(pause)

There is no way,

You can not see

The poor

And just not those without money

The poor also means those,

Who have nothing,

No access to employment, to housing, to citizenship, to freedom

The ex-felon,

Who it is pressed upon,

That they must have a job,

A position

That society is NOT going to care for them,

That they must work extra hard to return back to society

Win back trust,

And maybe be welcomed just on the margins

Of the inner circle

(pause)

But, see

What we do not see,

And sometimes not made aware

That their fate and success of transformation

Lies in human hands,

In the hands of companies,

Who have the power,

Of whom to hire

And more often than not

The word ex-felon guarantees

Their resume will wind up in the trash

And so the powerful

Avert their eyes

At the gate

As the poor are begging for that second chance,

(pause)

Or,

The Migrant worker

Who is doing jobs that,

Let’s be honest

Many of us would refuse

Feel it beneath us

Wouldn’t be caught doing

Because we know our rights

What our citizenship entitles us to

And so instead,

These corporations

Only see them,

As a commodity to be exploited

While their gaze is fixated

On their profit margins,

And stock portfolios swelling

And so they refuse to hear the poor begging

Outside the gates

For fair wages

Just so they can live!

(pause)

Or,

The outcast,

The outcast that has so much heaped upon them

On their shoulders

Because maybe

They have accumulated this massive debit

That society refuses to forgive

Because their status is not enough

Because they are not willing to work to with them

To wipe out this huge deficit

That their bodies are saddled with.

The poor are the transgendered and disabled

Or single parents on the brink of a breakdown

Or even

The poor are those trapped in the inner cities

Added that they are identified by the tinge of color

Lovingly painted on their skin,

By the One,

Who many seem to forget,

Was also an immigrant,

Of Color.

(pause)

These poor are perceived to be a threat to the well ordered society

Even though

Quiet as kept

Neither the authorities

Nor the politicians

Have faithfully lived out their pledge

To work for the people

As they were elected by the people

To protect the people

So that the people

REGARDLESS

Can live a life of freedom

Liberty

And

Peace.

So instead,

Sheltered by their wealth

They step over the bodies outside of the gate

Broken.

Who are begging to be seen

As an essential part of humanity

(pause)

Meanwhile,

We, the rest of humanity

On the other side of the gate

Ignore the teachings in our sacred texts

Ignore the stories of our Elders

Ignore the WORD

Cherry picking

To what is acceptable,

And will not stir us out of our comfort zone

Instead of adhering

“The first shall be the last,

And the last shall be the first”

Clearly calling for us

To be responsible for

ONE ANOTHER

ESPECIALLY

We fall,

We suffer

We are cast out

And we are dying at the gate!

(pause)

And because the Creator truly cares,

God continues to send endless Prophets

To tell us

TEACH US

And we in turn

Refuse to listen

Until it is,

Too late

(pause)

Very curious that we do not know

The name of this rich man

In our Gospel this morning,

(pause)

He has the assumption

That because he had the privilege of living the good life,

Access to resources of wealth

To a fault believing that Lazarus

Is still in a position of slavery

The rich man is shocked

That he is left

In darkness

Abandoned

Beyond the gate,

The abyss

Removed from the light and love of God

And the security of being in the presence of the Ancestors

(pause)

As our Gospel text was being discussed in various places on Facebook,

Someone debated that even as the rich man was in this chaism,

That the chaism was not big enough

That God could not traverse it

That God would close the gap

As if salvation would still be warrated

For this rich man

Who still was not understanding this lesson

(pause)

And yes,

Our God

Beloved Creator

Has the POWER TO CLOSE ANY GAP

That would keep us away from God

But when we are the ones

Who CREATE THAT CHAISM

That GAP

When we cling to selfishness

Greed

Humanity made wealth

Because we refused to HEAR the Good News

We refused to SEE JESUS

Hungry,

Tired

Broken

Poor

(pause)

And yet,

We forget

When we were hungry

Tired

Broken

Cast aside by the very society we cling to

To keep our status,

Jesus Christ DID NOT IGNORE US

Regardless of our faith,

Our status

Our lack of resources

Or wealth.

(pause)

Jesus Christ did not step over us at the gate

Jesus Christ,

Offered His Hands

Of Healing

Offered His Words

Of Forgiveness

OFFERED HIS LIFE

SO THAT WE CAN LIVE!!

(pause)

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I Believe I’ll Testify, While I have the Chance

“I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance,

For I may not have a chance,

Anymore.”

(pause)

I’m not sure why this gospel tune,

Popped into my head this week

Especially for this sermon,

But maybe I imagined,

The least of these,

Marked and identified for their sins

Running back to the outcast communities where they existed

TESTIFYING!

LISTEN! I actually was invited to sit,

And eat today!

With that Rabbi whom everyone is talking about

That Rabbi, who heard and looked into my eyes

Who heard my cry

Who told me that my sins are forgiven!

Who shared bread, broke bread,

Sat with US!

“I believe I’ll testify…”

And so they were witnesses

Sharing the Good News

That regardless of how humanity

The self-righteous

Had rendered their existence, invisible

God had not

(pause)

God had sent God’s Son

To share LOVE.

And maybe, just maybe,

They were able to experience a little selfish joy

Because while Jesus acknowledged them,

The Pharisees were grumbling!

(pause, share with them the story about the time when during testimony sharing at my childhood home Lutheran church, my mother had stood up to give her testimony, and if you know Mother-she is not shy about sharing the Good News and how the Gospel is proclaimed in her life. I don’t remember the specifics about what Good News she was sharing, but as my Mother was a deacon in her church, she was sitting at the front of the church, speaking. My sister Jessika and I were sitting at the rear of the church, and earlier a woman had come in right behind us. We didn’t recognize her and greeted her as a guest. So as my mother was speaking, suddenly we heard this woman start to criticize and grumble about my mother’s story! My sister and I jerked and froze, as this woman kept mumbling under her breath, so absolutely amazed that someone would be angry about hearing a testimony! When mother finished, and as the church said its amen’s, this woman walked out of the service. It was only then did we turn around to watch her retreating figure and looked at one another in utter astonishment. It also took every fiber of our being not to turn around and defend our Mother. We were in utter disbelief.)

Why do we grumble,

When we hear Good News,

A praise report?

Why do we open our mouths

To fix words of harshness

Grumbling and mumbling under our breath,

While that one which was lost,

Is sharing joy.

And instead of joining into the amen chorus

We are speculating!

That they are just perpetrating,

Because nothing is ever going to change:

They will still be out on the corner begging,

They will still be out on the corner, relapsing

They will still be out on the corner, getting arrested

That they can never get their lives right,

(pause)

Although we have never been in their situation

So we clearly do not understand

How the darkness of violence, addiction, self hate,

Does indeed have the power

To render our souls, dry and decimated

Until all we can be identified as,

Is the curse we bear on our scarred bodies

(pause)

If we are going to be truthful with ourselves

We are jealous, envious

Of another’s transformation,

That we felt that they weren’t worthy

Their sin was too great,

Although our apathy,

Is far worse

Than any sin that they could commit.

(pause)

“This man welcomes sinners,

And eats with them.”

(pause)

The Pharisees and scribes

Did not get it!

For all their intelligence and knowledge of the law

They just did not understand why,

Once again

Jesus was breaking the rules

And being that relentlessly rebellious guest.

Sitting with sinners?

Sinners had a different connotation and meaning then,

Sinners equaled an unforgiveable outcast

Undesirable

Untouchable

Defined by the LAW

Being in the company of sinners was an abomination

So excluding them from the wider community

Was sanctioned by the LAW

And so Jesus sitting down

And sharing a meal,

Spoke volumes

Because sharing a meal was not just this fast paced,

30 minute race before continuing work

Sharing a meal

Was, is and always should be

A moment of building community

Of immersed in important relationships

(pause)

Jesus uses this moment of relationship building,

Even to those who are grumbling,

Who consider themselves the never lost,

To teach,

Reminding both them and us

How truly connected we are,

Beyond the status and the class we created, to divide us

(pause)

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep

And loses one of them,

Doesn’t he leave the 99,

And go after the lost sheep?”

Many of us are familiar with this parable,

Of a loving God who will not abandon us

But we,

Miss something VITAL in this story,

Lost in translation:

The shepherd leaves them

In the Greek it reads,

EN TE ERAYMO

This means

In the desert

In desolation

Defenseless, out in the open

(pause)

It is not the idealized version

Where sheep are quietly grazing in green, pristine pastures

And the shepherd is only going as far as the treeline,

To the border of some property

To gather back one lone sheep.

The shepherd abandons the flock

In an uncultivated area

For an unspecific amount of time

Fending from themselves

In order to seek

In order to rescue

This one who is lost

(pause)

I wonder if we realize,

When we sit in those places of privilege and judgement

That at one point in our lives,

We were that ONE

Who had been abandoned

Pushed aside

Seen through humanity’s lens as just a waste of life,

And time

(pause)

But Jesus,

Jesus recognizes us,

As children of the Creator God

Damaged

Hurting

Sorrowful

And Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord

LEAVES THE FLOCK

TO COME SEE ABOUT US!

(pause)

Perhaps,

We can understand it more this way,

A quote, I came across in a commentary

“If the one is sacrificed,

In the name of the larger group,

Then each individual in that group

Has no security

That their lives mean nothing.

When the shepherd pays a high price

To find the One,

He thereby offers

The profoundest security

To the many.”

In other words,

The Good News of Jesus Christ for us

Is that Jesus is constantly

Coming,

Searching

Finding

And Saving

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!!

Because God does not rest

Until all of God’s Children

Regardless of our sins

Our failings

God created us whole!

God seeks to keep us whole!

God actively extends forgiveness

Mercy

Reconciliation

Grace

And LOVE.

(pause)

And because time and again,

Jesus is going out,

Bringing home those who are lost-

And by the way,

Let’s be clear

We are going to stray, wander and lose ourselves

MULTIPLE TIMES.

We are both saint and sinner!

So when Jesus goes out,

To bring our sisters and brothers in Christ, in Faith and in Love home,

While Jesus is out,

Extended the grace and forgiveness from God

We are called to be GOOD STEWARDS and GOOD SHEPHERDS!

We must welcome those home with joy!

We must join in their rejoicing

And then we are called to CARE for them!

Enfold, envelop and encourage them,

Because it is NOT EASY.

Battling the darkness and the sadness in this life IS NOT EASY

But,

The Good News is that,

When we come home

Jesus opens His Arms,

Feeding us

From the Table of LIFE!

Here!

So then when we leave this place,

We can’t help but sing,

I believe I’ll testify!

Thanks Be to God.

Transforming our broken world, doesn’t get a Sabbath

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Walking in the Living Light

Of the One who has conquered death

Is never ending

Never ceasing

Because there is always need for the Gospel

To be Proclaimed

As we pray without ceasing

And move and act and live out our call

Because we follow His footsteps,

Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

(pause)

What would it look like,

If our Sabbath time

And Serving moments

Were one in the same?

Because transforming the brokenness of this world

And our collective journeys through this life,

Seemingly does not get a moment of rest, or pause.

(share with the congregation that God’s Work Our Hands once more is coming up this year, and it falls on a day where we collectively as a nation remember the horrors of September 11th. We as Redeemer have already gotten ahead of the game by partnering with LSSI and doing our own GWOH-providing much needed supplies and backpacks for children who need to be equipped and prepared for their first day, week, months of school! How awesomely thrilled was LSSI that congregations like us participated! And as I thought to September, there was still this drive to do something for GWOH because being involved in ministry, doing for others is awesome. So your Pastor has a crazy idea-what if, what if we took pancakes over to our First Responders at the Fire/Police station here in town? Just hold that thought because, yes-we will have a pancake breakfast going on, and Rally Day, right? And we’ve already done the GWOH for this year, right?)

 

But perhaps it could be framed this way,

That carrying over a meal to those

Who put their lives on the line for those they are called to serve

Is not only own mission,

But a way to share the Good News,

That this place,

Regardless of the day or time,

That we are also here for them as well,

That we open our doors

Inviting them in

Even if all they have time to do,

Is to hear the sermon,

Pass the peace

Getting fed from the Table,

Because of the One,

Who was constantly doing for all of God’s Creation,

Jesus,

Even in the midst of Sabbath.

(pause)

Sabbath,

Can be seen as this moment of release

Release from the overwhelming and demanding presence

Of this broken world

Sabbath is a day of celebration,

Whether you are saint or sinner

Whether you are comfortable

Or you are struggling

Whether you are among the faithful

Or perhaps, lost and yearning for that faith.

Sabbath is a time to come together,

Sabbath can even be a teaching moment,

When it is both a time for rest,

And a time for actively living out the Gospel

(pause)

But there seems to be some disagreement among those gathered

In our Gospel this morning.

Have you noticed that Jesus goes against the laws quite frequently?

The status quo

Because see, there’s no Sabbath

From suffering,

From a painful

Even shameful existence.

I wonder how visible this nameless woman was

To those who kept the Sabbath

Or rather,

How important was her existence

To the community who she should have been a part of,

Instead of being kept apart,

Because somehow,

It was shameful.

(pause)

Shame, unfortunately

Has been used as a weapon

By institutions of religion

As a vehicle for control and suppression

So when this woman,

“with a spirit,

That had crippled her for 18 years”

Dares to make herself visible,

In the presence of Jesus

Jesus stops His teaching

And HEALS HER

REGARDLESS of her status,

Position

Belief!

And this moment of release from whatever gripped her,

Instead of joining in her praising God,

The leader points fingers,

Shaming her,

Shaming Jesus!

(pause)

It seems,

It was more important

That the Sabbath,

As required by the law,

Remain holy,

Free perhaps,

From the daily reminders

Of how screw up this world

And how horrible we can be to one another,

The cause and effect resting squarely on our shoulders

We have gotten away from what Sabbath means,

Because we have fallen away

From loving one another

From being in relationship with the Creator

This woman,

In our Gospel

Serves as a reminder

That there still is hopelessness

And pain,

That affects us, beloved

That affects our sisters and brothers in Christ

That she,

Like so many others

Are ignored

Because,

We just want a break

From seeing this heartache,

Can we get one day, Lord?

Especially when its insurmountable

And we have no idea how to handle it,

Or cure it.

We miss what it says,

“A woman with a spirit”

(pause)

How many times have we come across someone homeless?

Who is struggling with mental illness?

The commentaries elude to the fact,

That this woman’s ailments were due to a demonic possession-

We scoff at that now, right?

Easily modern medical science could attribute this to any muscular disease

Or osteoporosis

Bone cancer

And that she was probably suffering from dementia,

Or worse.

But this spirit?

Even now we still do not have a grasp on mental illness

And even today,

We whisper,

And blame the sufferer

With our own misconceptions of why

We avoid those who are unfortunately burdened with mental illness

Even though our society has refused to advance mental health,

That affects especially those who have served in our armed forces

Or who have swam through seas of domestic violence and abuse,

Or even,

Because life has been harsh,

And they are lost,

They have enveloped themselves into the darkness

With the help of drugs

We avoid those on the street corners,

Because we are afraid,

Because they will be begging for food

Rambling, wanting someone to hear and see them as a human being

Pleading, for release from the endless cycle of agony

And for a beginning towards healing

For someone to invite them into sacred and safe spaces

Crying, because they have no hope

They too,

Are possessed by a spirit

A spirit of emptiness

That has weighed so heavily upon their person,

That they too are gnarled,

Bent over

That whispers to them,

“No one wants you

You are not worthy

See, they shun you.”

Do we, beloved

Also hear those empty spirits,

When we are burdened by sins that we continue to carry

Until we too,

Are bent over.

(pause)

Evil,

Is not a concept

Evil,

Is a true opposition

And rebellion

Against the Creator God’s will

And purpose for us

For our lives

Evil preys upon us,

Dividing us from one another

Throwing caustic acid upon our souls,

Until we are blinded from seeing

God, Our Creator

Our Parent

That LOVE and Light in one another.

But the Good News is,

Jesus Christ,

Spoke to this woman’s shame,

And said simply

WITH A WORD

“You are set FREE

From your ailment”

Jesus,

Overcame this evil spirit within her

Pushing back the darkness

Telling this evil,

The demonic

That it has no claim upon US

PROCLAIMING

WE, BELOVED

WE,

Are set FREE

From our sins,

Our faults,

And suddenly

Just as this woman,

We can’t help it!

Every day is a day of thanksgiving!

Every day is an opportunity for service

That’s how I see it,

Because for me, beloved

This is what God has given me.

When I was on the brink of walking away

Because how shameful Christianity had been spoon fed into me

By those who did not come with a loving spirit

Who used the laws, twisting them

So that people would conform to their standards,

That people would be ashamed of who they were

Or shamed that they did not have enough faith

God whispered to them,

God whispered to me

God whispers to us,

“YOU, beloved

US, beloved

We are FREE

From our sins!”

The darkness is absolved

Every day is a new day in God’s eyes,

And so,

We can’t help ourselves, right?

I can’t!

But, as Pastor

I cannot do this important work,

Without YOU

As people of Faith,

We are called to do this ministry together!

(pause)

So,

Whose coming with me

To take breakfast of 9/11

As we do God’s Work,

With our Hands?

(pause)

Let’s share a little Sabbath joy,

With our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thanks Be to God.

God And Prayer Are Action Verbs, not just Nouns

O God We Call

O God We Call

From Deep Inside,

We Yearn

From Deep Inside

We Yearn

From Deep Inside

We Yearn,

For You

(pause)

(Share with the congregation about that moment during Ordination, when I was kneeling before the cross, vulnerable in this sacred moment and surrounded by a community of faith, both known and unknown, as they would witness their fellow sister in Christ, giving of her life into this journey of pastoral service. I knelt and waiting for those fellow sisters and brothers in Christ, who would be my colleagues, both known and unknown to share and to pray over me. There were prayers of joyous humor; there were prayers filled with wisdom and knowledge; there were prayers bathed in tears, especially as my best friend, herself a Presbyterian Pastor knelt and prayed over me.)

(pause)

How humbling it is,

For someone to pray over us, right beloved?

Praying over

And for one another

Is the deepest gift

We can give

The mere act of someone praying for us,

Whether we realize it or not

Strengthens that bond,

Of the Beloved community.

How good it feels,

That someone is sharing that burden

That struggle in our lives.

I barely remember all of the numerous prayers

Prayed over me that day.

Do you remember when someone prayed over you?

The words?

Maybe,

It was just

The Lord’s Prayer.

And maybe that is why,

The Lord’s Prayer may mean so much more,

In your life.

Gail shared with me one afternoon,

Some wisdom

“Pastor, would you mind taking a pause,

Before you go into the Lord’s Prayer?

I know you are in the midst of ritual,

But for many of us in the congregation

The Lord’s Prayer means so much.”

And I had to pause and think,

Of course!

Why wouldn’t this well known Prayer

Speak volumes?

Because this is one of the first prayers,

We learn as children, right?

This sacred Prayer

Is embedded in our Worship

Gail’s right,

It is that moment,

We collectively are spilling out

Our concerns

Our worries

Our needs

To the One,

Who IS ALL THINGS

CREATED all things

Because of the deep, unending Love

The Creator God has,

For God’s People.

(pause)

But praying publicly sometimes,

Can be nerve wracking,

Right?

We become so nervous

Wrapped up

In that our words

Must be carefully crafted

With all the right catch phrases

And added quotes

From Scripture

Praying publicly

Has the tendency

To throw us

Into spasm

Because everyone is listening

And secretly judging, right?

Perhaps,

This is what probably led the disciples

Asking Jesus

In our Gospel this morning,

To teach them how to pray

As John,

Taught his own followers.

(pause)

What was that prayer?

Interestingly,

There is no record

Of what John shared with those

Who were following him.

Was it a prayer of repentance,

That was so significant in John’s ministry?

Or perhaps it mirrored

The words of the Psalm

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness

in your abundant compassion

blot out my offense.

Wash away all my guilt;

from my sin cleanse me

(pause)

The act of prayer,

Is one of comfort

Especially in times

When we feel ostracized

Alienated

Removed

From community

Abandoned

By those who professed empty promises

From their mouths

(pause)

Being before the Creator,

Is a time

When we are reminded

We are loved

And this Prayer that Jesus would teach His disciples

Is one,

That encompasses

Reassures us

Of our (word/line)

And everything

In this prayer

Is not to remain in the abstract

These are not suggestions,

But that this Prayer,

Is ALIVE

God’s Name is kept Hallowed

Holy,

When we speak this

We are inviting,

Asking

Pleading God

To ACT

To be PRESENT

To come into our lives,

To impact this world,

It is not just praise!

(pause)

Jesus,

Teaches both His disciples

And us,

To give thanks

For the bread,

Sustenance of food

A reminder that this comes,

From the Creator

Jesus teaches

That we must be thankful

For the relationships

That we are submerged in daily,

And because of those relationships

And our humanity,

And because we will fail to see the Christ in one another,

We must repeatedly ask for forgiveness

We must be reminded that

In order not to break the bonds of Love and Mercy,

We must work to forgive,

As the Creator freely forgives us

(pause)

Jesus shows us,

In the words of this prayer,

Whether our heads are bowed

Or hands joined

We come as One

Into this space

Stripped away of everything that either breaks us

Or completes us

And we are just God’s children

And as God’s children

We can freely

Unashamedly

Be open

About our needs

(pause)

Mother Teresa

Said about the subject of prayer

“Prayer is not asking

Prayer is putting oneself

In the hands of God

At God’s disposition

And listening to God’s voice

In the depth of our hearts”

(pause)

We have to,

As people of faith,

Put ourselves

In God’s Hands.

And that beloved,

Is so difficult,

Right?

Because how can we put ourselves

Into the hands

Entrusting our lives

To the cosmos?

To something we can not see

Or touch?

And what happens

When those prayers,

Clinging to the Lord’s Prayer

Are never answered?

(pause)

What about the young woman,

Who has prayed the Lord’s Prayer

At the bedside of her mother,

Hoping that God will heal her,

That she will be new again,

That she’ll be able to do all the things

She once was able-

And what happens when that prayer is never answered?

(pause)

Or what happens,

About a child,

Who repeatedly night after night prays the Lord’s Prayer

Asking God to get his family out of a situation

Embroiled in violence and darkness

Wanting to escape to safety

So that he can just be a child again-

And what happens when that prayer is seemingly ignored

(pause)

Or even,

Our collective prayers

Of the ending to the brutality

And the division

That is tearing this world APART

WHAT HAPPENS

WHEN WE GET ANGRY

BECAUSE GOD IS NOT HEARING OUR PRAYER?

(pause)

What happens,

When the solution we hear,

Is we should just pray

And not get involved

“Jesus will fix it!”

“God is in control”

(pause)

But see,

Jesus did pray

And then Jesus

MOVED

ACTED

LIVED out what He was called to do.

Can we pray like Jesus?

It’s a bit complicated

Jesus calls us to not just pray,

This prayer,

But to actually live out this prayer

Because of this Prayer,

We are aware of what Creation gives to us

Through sustenance

And what we should give back in return

And of the complex,

Intertwined

Relationships

That we must nurture

And we hope to be nurtured

Through Love,

Through Grace

Through Mercy

And

Through Forgiveness.

And that we know,

We cannot do this on our own

We can only do the work

That the Creator God calls

And

Commands us

To do

Because of the presence of the Creator God

And always invoking

Asking

Inviting God into whatever space we are

So that we are able,

To be a part

Of the beloved community

Of the Kingdom of God.

(pause)

Prayer,

Yes

It is a spiritual discipline

But prayer too,

Is an act,

Because through the power of the Holy Spirit

This prayer,

Any prayer

Moves

Encourages

Empowers

Reminds US

How much we are Loved

How much we are valued

How much we are,

That hope

In the darkness,

Because the powers of our prayers

SHATTERS

Any evil

That is Good News.

Thanks Be to God.

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.

 

Speechless

O Lord Hear my Prayer

O Lord Hear my Prayer,

When I call

Answer me

O Lord Hear My Prayer

O Lord Hear My Prayer

Come and Listen to me

(pause)

This song resonated with me

This song remained with me this week

This is the only thing that my heart could muster

I am speechless, beloved

Because

The cries continue

A voice cries out in the bleak wilderness

A cry is heard in Ramallah

It echoes in Charleston

And in Orlando

Deep anguish

Bitter weeping

Rachel weeps,

Mothers weep

Fathers weep

We as a community weep

For our Children

For our sisters and brothers

And we cannot

We refuse

To be comforted

Because this sickness of violence

Is warped into the fabric of our everyday

It has been one year,

Since Charleston

It has been one week,

Since Orlando

And beloved,

I cannot ignore the cries

As Called and Ordained

As a Follower of Christ

I cannot stand here

And tell you

That I am not affected

I cannot preach

A feel good Gospel,

The Good News of Jesus Christ,

Tells us

Reminds us,

That we are LOVED

Through all of the persecution

We as followers of Christ

Have experienced

But,

Our response

To these tragedies

Is not

APATHY

Our response

Is Prayer

Our response

Is through Prayer

Our response

Is Love

Through Action

Our response

Is to do,

Something

Our response

As Christians,

Is to be public with our witness

Professing

Proclaiming

We serve a mighty God

Whose omnipotent presence,

And everlasting love

Knows no boundaries

And, yes

Who weeps

(pause)

In the movie,

Passion of the Christ

As Jesus gives up His life,

There is this one stark scene

Where a single raindrop

Hovers

Falls

As if God is weeping

As if God is mourning this devastating loss

Isn’t it Good News to know

That just as the Creator weeps for Jesus,

That God weeps for us?

For every life lost

For every life taken for granted

For every time

Humanity submits to the demonic

(pause)

Is it strange to hear

God’s Lament

Here in Isaiah?

I held out my hands

All day long

To a rebellious people

Who walk in a way

That is not good”

The Creator God is lament as God’s People

Return from exile

Establishing order,

And community

Would not be easy for a people who had been oppressed,

Enslaved

They were faced with

Famine,

Economic downturn

Political jockeying for power

And forgot whose they were

Instead relying on faith, they turned inward

They stopped listening to the whispers in Creation

Messages from God

They wore masks and appeared holy

While rejecting their responsibility to one another

Deeming themselves and their status to being too important

Creating and enjoying privilege at the cost of others

(pause)

Martin Luther warns us in his writings

That we as humanity

Routinely bend inward

Away from God

“A people who provoke me,

To my face continually”

Because we are prideful

Spiteful

We attempt to be our own god,

the ground of our own existence

Severing ties,

And bit by bit,

Unraveling the beloved community

(pause)

Therefore then, its easy to refuse

Those who come into sacred spaces

Whom we do not know

A meal,

The Table

Simply because they are different

The peace

Simply because they look different

We are stingy with this precious gift of Agape

We judge the “other” as being unworthy

As if we had the power and authority!

(pause)

Or that we misuse our self perceived rights

Simply because Jesus Loved us,

And died for us

Therefore Jesus Christ and all His power

Selfishly belongs to the “in crowd”

But we forget that the word “rights”

Means stewardship

The responsibility for one another

The joy of serving, working

Community

Aren’t we, as God’s Beloved

Supposed to do because of Love?

(pause)

Each breath,

We exhale,

Is our souls

Reaching outward

To the Light

Towards the presence

Of the One

Who has the Power

To wipe away all tears

To heal us

To exorcise us out of darkness

The darkness

Which overpowers us

In our weakness

In our sins

Seduces

Traps

Binds us

Until we can not hear

“Go in Peace”

Until we can not hear

“You are Loved”

Until we can not hear

“You are forgiven”

And instead,

We are lost

And we cannot wipe away the scales

Plastered to our eyes

So we don’t see

The reflection of the Christ

In one another

And we find ourselves

Possessed

Damaged

Unsalvageable

(pause)

And suddenly,

We somehow see,

Just as this unknown man saw

Just as that which was poisonous within him

Knew,

Recognized the One

Who had, Who has

POWER

RESURRECTION POWER

Over death

Over evil

And COMMANDS IT

TO LEAVE US

BECAUSE WE ARE GOD’S.

Because there is nothing on this Earth

That has the cure,

Like Jesus Christ

NOTHING!

(pause)

But,

Sometimes,

The demonic refuses to let go

And suddenly

One person

Is lost in that darkness

Goes into a church

Violates Holy people

Goes into a school

Violates innocent lives

Goes into a place of social gathering

Violates sacred bodies

(pause)

But the Good News is,

God does not give up

On us

As the wine is found in the cluster,

And they say, do not destroy it

So I will do for my servants’ sake

And not destroy them all.”

(pause)

Holy Spirit moved at this point to charge the congregation not to judge but to embrace; reminded as just as there were 49 places in various pews in our congregation that were empty, these stood for the 49 people who were murdered because of who they were and who they loved

 

Thanks Be to God.

 

And now for something completely different: #decolonizeallthethings

Do ya’ll realize who I am?

Did you forget?

Are you that blind?

Me

Raw

Woman

Colored

Creole

Fierce

Called

Possessed by the Holy Spirit

Lutheran

Christ centered

Ancestor driven

My question is

Why is my Church

Scared of Me?

12190841_1046507248706431_5658838621376933339_n

Scared of How I dance with the Creator

Demanding that I strip painfully

Who I am

And put on an ill fitting spirit

Identity

Labeled Assimilation

Call yourself Christians

When you refuse to follow Christ

Into the ugliness

The Abyss

The Darkness

Where you dumped the beloved community

Where you pushed us into oblivion

Out of the light

That you thought

You deserved

Instead of me

Child of God

Loved

Sacred

My body Sacred

My body a reflection of Christ

Not a reflection of dogmas

Doctrine

Which we cling to

Instead of our Faith

Instead of the FIRE

As the Holy Spirit Burns

Burns away everything

That keeps us from

Creator

Burns through classrooms

Burns through the hatred

Violence

That we heap on

Oppress through

In classrooms?

Nothing is safe

Nowhere is safe?

Why does my Church

Expect me

To forget ME?

photo (4)

Original poem

My poetry may not be understood fully but this is how the anger pours from my soul. I have chosen, and the Creator chose me to be here in this moment, serving, preaching and proclaiming the healing power of the Gospel and doing what the Risen Christ has commanded. Loving one another goes beyond people’s comfort zones and it means that we have to be intentional about how we live out our faith, publicily; it mean marching into the places of privilege and flipping that table, disrupting the norm and not evermore being silent about the pain of those whose faces reflect the Risen Christ.

This is what we hear in our Seminary Chapel services, when the Gospel is proclaimed so I am amazed when suddenly congregations get angry that the Gospel IS being proclaimed and infuses within who we are as seminarians and suddenly we can’t shut up and we can’t stop pushing the boundaries and demanding change, and we are public witnesses. We demand that worship reflects the entire community, and that our theologians we study and discuss come from every walk of life and that the Seminary, as it professes that it is Lutheran, actually leap off of that cliff, following the Holy Spirit and DO.

That is what it means for me to #decolonizetheSeminary.

We are not all

Straight

White

Rural

Suburban

Swedish

German

Norwegian

Danish

Upper Class

Minnesotan

To decolonize the Seminary means:

That my Seminary, LSTC finally had to address the white privilege and the racism that had affected so many people of Color over the years, making their experiences a living hell in this place that was supposed to be this beautiful bubble-but dripped poison all over them as it bursts.

IMG_0270

In my Graduating class, I was the only Woman of Color.

Period.

People are excited by my presence and how I will continue to evolve into my Pastoral Leadership.

But are they? Really?

I refuse to be quiet or silent.

That is what #decolonizeLutheranism means

Acknowledge our presence as beloved children of the Creator

Acknowledge that this world is %(%^(^ UP

That Christianity has been used as a weapon to oppress and dominate

That Lutherans refused to do anything in the annihilation of bodies

1378576_10205658575011826_2474265025368734722_n

Of Brown, Black, of Native, of Aboriginal, of Ancient

Of Hurting, of Imperfection

And now,

Because the Holy Spirit has smashed the perfect glass around you

And you are standing bleeding

You are feeling for the first time

And you take those first steps

Towards Justice

Towards Love

Towards Righteousness

Towards Peace.

 Featured Image -- 260

Ase

And

Ase…

 

 

 

 

Off the Beaten Path, Away from the Norm

I’ve never been known to do anything linear

Or normal for that matter

It’s Thursday afternoon,

and I’m working on my application to Chicago Theological Seminary

for another damn degree

S.T.M

advanced

Why?

Liberation.jpg

I’m supposed to wait three years,

three years in pastoral ministry solidified

three years of being silent.

I cannot do that.

When I first came to my congregation, one of the things I expressed was this-

“Preaching and professing the Gospel as it moves within me,

fuels the way I share and teach with you”

That my reality as a Woman of Color cannot be washed away in baptismal waters

That my righteous anger and authenticity would surface,

Because what is happening to my People, my Tribe saddened and sickens me

Although I love them dearly, truly and deeply

Although I understand that my Call here was given to me by the Creator

I cannot remain silent

So I am still involved with justice and advocacy issues,

So this is not the end

So I remain perched upon the horizon,

at the waterfall

hearing those voices

the drums

the rhythm of sacredness

templo_osun_osogbo.jpg

My question is why have we totally and utterly abandoned one expression of spirituality

for one that is not even faithful to the One it claims to follow?

Why have we demonized something so natural

for the artificial? 

Why do we not realize

that the Creator speaks through both,

and all?

When will we learn we are a Sacred People

and our traditions we attempted to abandon

Are still with us

Move through us

On a Sunday Morning.

Our ancestors heard the Gospel while in chains

They knew that this One who transformed death upon the Cross

 Would not abandoned them

Not abandon us

even in this hellish exile.

So, because of my Ancestors

I am able to stand among the rains

Pursue wisdom

Answer the Call

Thankful to the Creator

Ase

Ase

Amen

Amen.