The Beauty of A Soul

Today I experienced the beauty of my soul.

I grew up as most Christians with the belief that my soul is not worthy and is need of saving. Sitting on the pulpit on a Sunday morning, with songs of praise echoing throughout the sanctuary, I sat in wonder about my journey in ministry. My journey is leading me to a path of self discovery and I must admit that I am a little frighten of what my soul is aching to push out. I am finding that I no longer relate to a Christian thought or belief that Christianity’s main function is only to save souls for heaven, where we will all suffer no more. This thought has allowed a selfish agenda that patterns capitalistic thinking, rewarded with getting that big mansion in the sky. In this thought we have missed human relationships and connections with each other. So busy trying to change each other that we have not seen the beauty of the soul in our path. We have missed opportunities to free a world from abuse and hatred. We have missed opportunities to love. We have missed opportunities to be a better nation, all because we have deemed that somewhere we must get people in a “right” relationship with God when we have not been in “right” relationships with each other.

This change happening within my being and soul frightens me. I must admit that I am struggling to join in with Christians who preach a Gospel that is not of love but instead of one that seeks opportunities to preach that we are all sinful and unworthy. Don’t get me wrong, of course there is evil, white supremacy, sinful systems that deny people their fundamental rights, these are the things we must preach against. These are the things that must be eradicated. Yes, this change happening within my being and soul frightens me, but oh so much of it is also beautiful and freeing. Of course, I am only sharing my new discovery on my journey in this space, because I feel safe to do so.

I wonder have any of you experience the beauty of your soul yet? Is there something about your faith that has led you to a place of enlightenment that steers you to know there is more than waiting to get to a heavenly place, and that God uses us to bring heavenly places here on earth? I believe in God. I believe that Jesus shows us and has provided examples to us how to love each other. There is a change that is happening within my being and soul and I am embracing it. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who loves myself and my neighbors. I am a Christian who stands for the rights of others, that be a woman right to choose, a right to marry who you love. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who believes that everyone should have housing. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who believes that there must be equal pay for all and $15 as minimum pay is not even enough. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who takes care of the environment because God trusted us enough to do so. I am a Christian and I believe your soul is beautiful.

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Sophia (Wisdom) offering The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is bold and pleasantly frightening.  Sue Monk Kidd questioning her spiritual journey and wondering if her Christian faith actually recognizes her womanhood and speaks to her directly, is a question I believe many women have asked, including myself, and what is so surprising is this memoir written over 25 years ago,  is still very relevant today.   Sue Kid Monk’s tenacity to deal with the question is one of bravery and begins the process to heal what she calls, “feminine wounds.” 

In all honesty, reading this book was difficult because it tugged in those neglected spaces women usually just settle for, and at the same time, there is liberation taking place.   Kidd gently forces women to truly focus on what roles they play in their faith journey and reminds us not to just accept the status quo as is, but that it is quite alright to search for a place that includes you and includes your worth.  This book is for women who are ready to heal wounds caused by a Christian faith tradition that has stifled the voices of the feminine  sacred divine.   This book is for women who are searching for a rebirth in becoming who their authentic, beautiful and holy selves truly are. 

There is a warning though that comes when you begin to open your mind to the The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  Don’t be surprised as you read Kidd’s memoir, that you soon remember a moment when listening to a sermon you didn’t agree with and secretly screamed out loud but kept the facade of a smile on your face to show your loyalty, or when participating in a women’s conference that somehow managed to include Adam’s rib into their description of women, and yet you kept that silly grin on your face, that you as well have participated in patriarch oppressive systems.  You will come to the realization that you too might be ready to start a faith journey you can claim your own, but be further warned,  with that comes labor pains that may take longer than expected, but the stretch marks will soon tell the story of a journey worth taking.  

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

What Does Love Look Like?

What does love look like? Will it look like sidewalks that sparkle when we walk our children to school? Will the air smell like magnolia trees in full bloom and allergies be non existent? Will the streets be clean of debris which our towns sweep to welcome guest who come from far away places? Will our restaurants be full of laughter and conversations, opinions and disagreements, in safe spaces that we create? Will government officials be truly for all the people, not based on party lines or personality politics, but because their service calls them to do good and do what is right? Will our schools allow for the history of all people to be heard and learned and appreciated, even when the history is stories of genocide and hatred? Will police officers stop the killing of black and brown people? Will no-knock warrants cease? Will those who are descendants of an enslaved people ever get reparations? Will those who were on this land first ever be recognized because of their goodwill offering to share with us a blessing? Can we ever get to a point where we see each other as equals and not competitors? Can we normalize that love is love regardless of who’s hands we hold or who we share in making passionate love? Will we embrace our trans children who stand in defiance to our ignorance? Will we stand with those who are brutalized by dictators that kill innocent people and fight with them to gain freedom? Will we welcome all refugees seeking safety no matter what their race or nationality? Will we notice a stranger’s smile in the grocery store and will we smile back? Will we search for ways to end hunger and poverty? Will we seek ways to ensure that all people have shelter? Can we get to a point where material objects are not the things that define our being but realize we have enough so that others will have enough? Will we learn that the death penalty is not a righteous act? Will we serve our enemies food and water? Will we write to the mothers of our enemies that their children are safe in our protection? Will we understand that we are interconnected like highways, bridges, fiber connections that expand the internet, and like those things, when they become crumble and broken, when we lose the ability to connect with each other, we become crumple and broken. Finally, will we discover that at the end of the day, LOVE that heals all of us, that feeds all of us, that clothes all of us, that protects all of us, that accepts all of us, demands one thing from all of us, and that is, simply, that we love ALL OF US!

Hear what Christ our Savior saith. Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets.

Summary of the Decalogue

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

“Walk Together Children, Don’t You Get Weary!”

There is a new rising happening, not just in our country, but globally. We are beginning to hear new voices, new songs that resonate love and freedom. There are more people who are not afraid to stand with the vulnerable and ones that so-called Christians have deemed to be unworthy. In fact, we who are followers of Jesus the Christ, are taking back a religion that has been categorized as un-just, unloving, unkind, and just down right hurtful. We are working together for a just society, where all of God’s children are free, where all have enough to live, where all are loved and have a right to be loved.

I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus who stood before the hierarchy of his day and demanded health care for all to be well and enough food for all to eat. I am a follower of Jesus who spoke and stood with women whose society called them prostitutes and shun them when they were unmarried. I am a follower of Jesus who allows children to share their ideas with community, making room for them to lead. I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus who stands and speaks truth to power before a Roman Empire and the church that supports a government that bows down to the highest corporate bidder. I am a follower of Jesus who cries when black boys and girls, women and men, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Walter Wallace, Jr., so many more, are killed by police. I am a follower of Jesus who shows love and compassion to all, not based on their religious ideologies, but based on only love! I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. I am a Christian.

So in my voice to all of you who have the audacity to believe that health care will be provided to all, food will be plentiful for all, jobs will pay livable wages so that all mothers can take care of their children, there will be places that all can live and be happy, there will peace among nations, my children can love who they love, that we are endowed by the Spirit of our Creator to do all we can to make this world a more loving and safe place. I say to you, keep walking, don’t get weary!

We can do this y’all! I know there are moments, shucks, there are months, years, where many feel like we are constantly going around in circles. Reminds me of the Exodus story; Moses trying to lead folks who were complaining about nothing ain’t happening. Well, I got news for you. We still complaining, but we still walking, we still moving! Don’t give up now. It is better to love than to bow down before a wicked, unjust system. Keep moving, keep fighting, there is a great camp meeting in the promise land!!! That promise land is just around the corner!

Listen as the Fisk University Jubilee Singers (2020) uplift their rendition of the song, “Walk Together Children”, by Moses Hogan. (*I do not have rights to this music)

Happy Juneteenth! Happy Pride!

Be Bless My Friends!!

Rev. JacquiP

My Apology

“Beginning Again” started out to be a blog about me finding the what next after retirement and could I possibly still dream after turning 60 years old. I am grateful because I am still dreaming. The dreams are not what they once were. The dreams are much better. Because my dreams are not just for me but I realize that my dreams are connected to something bigger than I. My dreams are connected to a better humanity. A humanity that uplifts all, treats all with dignity and grace, stand for the rights of all, ensure that all have enough. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught how much we have hurt each other. We cannot return to a normal that is abusive mentally and physically. We must seek forgiveness. We must apologize. So, here I am, with a dream that offers an apology for those who have been hurt, especially by the church.

To the gay youth at church who stopped coming because we called you a sin. 
To the single parent who only wanted to belong but instead we gossiped about your clothes. 
To the immigrant who only wanted to worship but the church refused to protect you.  
To the homeless person who joyfully expressed his voice every Sunday, only to be shush. 
To the trans person who boldly walked in the sanctuary as themself and told they could not be.
To the once incarcerated who comes back and no one greets you with open arms. 
To the children who are told to sit, not talk, because their voice is not valued. 
To the black boys and girls who scream as we sit by, saying nothing, seeing them murdered.
To all who have never felt the unconditional love of God's hand,
I am sorry.

God is love. God commands us to do better, to be better, to be who God has created us to be. We, who are created in the image of God. God shows up in the gay youth, the single parent, the immigrant, the homeless, the trans, the incarcerated, the children, all of us. God makes God self present in all of us.

This is my apology. I pray you come and dream with me. I pray you find your apology so that all good dreams will be fulfilled. So that all we see in each other is God’s image. What a beautiful sight to behold!

Be well my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Remember to Dance

I am creating a space to practice yoga in my home. Yoga is not new to me, but because I am not disciplined in my practice, I consider myself still a beginner. The room is the smallest in my home but it is the room I gravitate to the most. Hanging on the walls are two pieces of art work which are very precious to me. One is a drawing of a young woman with locs, her head gently bowed, the palm of her hand turned graciously and she is softly swaying. The drawing is titled, “Thoughts in Movement”. The other piece is a painting of three older full body women, colorful scarves tied around their heads, aprons tied around their round waist, looking like they just came out of a field, jubilant and dancing with the sun lighting their joy. There is no title for this piece. In fact, this piece was balled up in the back of my truck for years after I moved away from an abusive relationship and was about to throw it out! It was worn and had a small tear but I restored the art piece and had it perfectly framed.

While creating this space, I found myself dancing, with no rhythm. My body went in whatever direction it wanted to. My belly shaking with sounds and the flaps of my arms joining in with harmony. I looked at the picture of the three older women and laughed out loud and danced along with them, dancing through fields of hardship but swaying with an ease. I then turned my attention to the young woman and thanked her for her bravery and determination to keep moving, because of her I remember how to dance. I remember to how unravel myself from the bruise spots on my body. I remember how to hear the soft whispers instead of the harsh blows. I remember that there were other women who danced through the pain with me. I’m so glad they did not allow me to keep them rolled up in the back of a truck or thrown out in the trash.

This journey comes with some trials and tribulations. At times it may appear to be easier to hide in a corner, crumpled up because unraveling yourself will hurt. Unraveling our past mistakes, our past failures; unraveling how others have harmed us, these things are not pretty. But unraveling helps smooth out the wrinkles. Unraveling brushes away the debris of all the wrong things we have said to ourselves. Once the process of unraveling starts, we remember who we are. We remember we are creative, intelligent, loving and we can dance to our own unique rhythm.

So what should be the name of the picture? The picture of those women dancing triumphantly, the one with no name. What should it be titled? I don’t know, yet. But what I do know is that I have the power to figure it out. And for that, I dance!

Dance y’all!!!! Dance!

You and Me

The last Sunday of 2020. And my pastor decided that I would be the one to preach the last sermon of the year. Of 2020 y’all?!! Of course I could have preached about the pandemic, the fourteen million people who are unemployed, eviction notices being issued, and black lives still being brutalized. So, yes, I did preach about those things, but I also challenged what things would look like if we all participated with God in making these disturbing, ugly, sinful, issues disappear for good. How can we find ways to partner with God?

No, I am not one who believe that all we have to do is put everything in God’s hands and well, then walk away. Let God handle it. I mean, God already created the universe, provided the land for food and kind of just dropped the planet in our lap, so can we do something that God will be in total awe!? If anything from 2020, we have learned how to survive with little. We finally realized we don’t need all the stuff, the perfect phone, the sharp car (I do drive a 2011 Mercedes Benz) or the social media fame that makes overnight celebrities (well, let me rethink that one). But seriously, in all of this year’s darkness, we found people helping each other, people working with people they would have never given the time of day. This pandemic destroyed lives and in a weird way, this pandemic allowed us to see how precious life is.

So here’s my challenged. There is this scripture that points directly to how we can partner with God; yes I’m a preacher, get over it, but just hear me out, okay?

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others.” Philippians 2:1-4

We need each other and God needs us. If we truly want peace; if we truly want to see people made whole; if we truly want to eradicate homelessness and hunger; if we truly want all people to live free; then we must learn from 2020. Let’s see if we can show God what we’re made of!

Happy New Year!

Peace

Peace starts within. Peace cannot be found in material things. Peace cannot be found in the most splendid of a vacation, though I must say, it would be nice to relax on a lovely island right about now. Sorry, I digress. Peace is the ultimate gift that some will go to the end of the earth to search for but will not find it. Peace is what we are all wanting to experience during this time in our history. Would you be surprise to know that this peace that I speak of already resides in you? Yes, in you! If you have taken a yoga class or participated in meditating, the first thing you learn is to how to breathe, close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Yes, your breath. There is this soothing sensation that as you are experiencing your breath for the first time it is like your being is aware that your presence on this earth has a purpose. Your being on this earth is required for others to breathe, for others to find peace.

Before he was murdered, Jesus prepared his disciples for what they were about to experience. He tells them, “Peace I leave with you; then almost at a second thought, as to say no, that’s not enough, he then says, “my peace I give to you.” For someone knowing he is about to be murdered, Jesus turns inwardly and blesses those whom he loved. I believe as George Floyd breathe his last breath, he too, by calling out to his mother, turns inwardly and offers his peace to those whom he loved.

Imagine a world that speaks peace before a weapon is raised. Imagine a world that breathes out peace instead of greed. Imagine the world breathing in unison, aware of our collective breaths being present to give instead of take. Imagine the earth renewing herself, because we breathe life into her. Imagine a world that realizes our collective peace have the power to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. Yes, our peace, this peace which is a gift from God. This kind of peace you cannot get from the world. It’s impossible. In fact Jesus says to his disciples, “I do not give to you as the world gives.” This kind of peace is already in you.

So today, take a moment, close your eyes, breathe peace into your space, then breathe peace out in the world. Let’s make this place better. God is depending on me and you! Let’s not let her down!

Rev. Jacqui Pinkney

Sunday

We woke up again to a cloudy, cold and rainy day in Philadelphia. It is Sunday. This day we would usually find ourselves in our perspective church buildings gathering for worship. My husband and I attend different churches. We are both ordained clergy, he in the Lutheran tradition and me in the Methodist tradition. We practice our faith a little differently, but we come back to the centering of our faith, which is Love. This quiet Sunday has provided me the opportunity to meditate on why this particular day of the week is so needed during this pandemic crisis the world is experiencing.

It is becoming difficult to get up on Sunday mornings and not be able to head out to the church building where I get to see people like Sister Woods, who has a way of correcting and loving you at the same time. For those of us who grew up in the black church, you already can imagine a Sister Woods, so you know she don’t play! Sister Robyn, who is that true black “sistah” that carries the justice torch and will stand toe to toe questioning the scripture, forcing pastor to deal with the injustice so many don’t like to take in the pulpit; the young children and teens inspiring adults to do better because, well you know, we really don’t have this spiritual thing all together and the children are there to remind us that we are not all that smart. I miss sitting and singing songs of Zion with my folks! Now, don’t get me wrong! I do like the fact that I can stay in my pajamas all day, look at a virtual worship service, sing off key in the privacy of my bedroom and make ugly faces if I kinda don’t agree with the pastor’s sermon. And now, I find myself surfing on Facebook Live for community, for belonging, for hope and in my search, I have found so many wonderful worship services that have sparked me to think differently about Sunday mornings. And this is what Sundays bring.

Sundays offer us the opportunity to start over again. It is a beginning of the week where we can decide to do things differently than the previous week where we may have experienced stress, the frustration of seeing the hurt in people eyes as they formulate lines to either go in grocery stores or stand in food lines for long period of time; anxiety that is heighten when another first of the month is about to roll around reminding us that mortgage and rent are due soon. Sundays offer the chance to seek compassion and acceptance. Sunday offers hope, dreams and rest as we prepare ourselves for the coming week. We get another chance, to try again, to study again, to live again, to take another step and just maybe we will experience new possibilities, amazing adventures because embracing Sundays gives us clearer vision and strong will to continue on.

So I offer this to you. During this time where we are staying home, which is the most loving thing we can do for everyone right now, find a worship service online that speaks to your authentic self. If you come across a worship service that preaches hatred, racism, homophobia, sexism, white supremacy, log away! Find a worship service that speaks of love and only love. I am a Christian. But you don’t have to be. A community that embodies love is all that matters. Allow Sunday to become your new beginning that happens over and over again, gaining strength over and over again, growing in grace over and over again until Sunday is everyday.

A favorite song from my Christian tradition, written by Daryl Coley, speaks this way:

When Sunday comes My trouble gone. As soon as it gets here I’ll have a new song. When Sunday comes I won’t have to cry no more.

Every trial, every tribulation will be left behind – When Sunday comes.

Say a Prayer

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Habakkuk 1:1-4 NRSV.

(The Prophet’s Complaint) ” O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous-therefore judgment comes forth perverted. ”

Let’s pray.

God we open ourselves to you. We stand before you hurting and confused. Our world is in desperate need of your arms to hold us. We are scared, tired and weary. Hear us, O God. We have faith God. Our faith did not leave us. We stand before you angry. We stand before you human.

Heal the sick. Protect the helpers. Protect the elderly. Protect the young.

We stand naked before you God, with all of the ugliness, rudeness and unloving things that we have done. Forgive us O God! We need you. Don’t turn away from us. Amen.