A Revolutionary Love

I love church. I love being church, community, the ecclesia. The church has caused me a lot of problems, but today I realized how much church is big part of who I am. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to feel love for the church in the way I felt it today. I have been critical of the church. Somedays the church is good and other days I wonder how I allowed myself to become a part of an institution that has preached hate and homophobia to the point where there have been times that I just want to walk away. But today, I saw a congregation hold each other as they discovered their church had gone up in flames.

Middle Collegiate Church (middlechurch.org) is a place where everyone is welcomed. It is a community of people who believe in God, don’t believe in God, straight, gay, all races and ethnicities, who stand and fight against the injustices in that ravage our nation. They are a group of people that every Sunday morning, I don’t know any of them, but at 11:45am I can’t wait to sit in front of my laptop to attend worship because they don’t know me, but it’s almost like they do. Their love is intentional. As I watched the service today and saw the congregation crying, singing, praying and still making sure that the community in which they sit is still provided with food and clothing for the homeless, holding on to each other, but still being a force and standing, speaking against those powers that keep the marginalized oppressed. As the building burned, so many of them spoke saying, “we are the church”, this is a building. In that building were memories of baptism, weddings, dancing and laughter and funerals of love ones. They grieved publicly, being human, being fully seen, being fully embraced by God. The most beautiful thing is that the world in which they gave themselves with their radical revolution way of love, responded with arms wide open, to receive this group of amazing people, because their radical revolutionary love planted a big heart in souls that had once been broken. I saw God today.

I fell in love with church again, because of a community that is showing me that revolutionary love works. I fell in love with church again today because I saw what church can be. For us pastors and preachers, for us lovers of the Gospel, for us lovers of God, I pray we will be intentional about loving people, not trying to change them so they can go to heaven, but instead love them so the world can see God. I’m so glad that Middle Collegiate Church reminds me that we are the ones God has been waiting for. Check them out on a Sunday morning. You will be so happy you did!

She is Alive!

The church is not dead. She is alive.

It took a pandemic for us to see this misogynist who spews his nonsense of racism, sexism and homophobia. I say “him” because let’s be clear, it is those patriarchal stuff-shirts in the church that brought harm to her. But she is persistent, she is a fierce to be reckon with, she cannot be broken. She never came to harm anyone. Her strength is to always welcome all God’s children without any judgement. Her arms are meant to hold and protect us from the wolves that seek to colonize and assimilate us into a mind of greed and perceived power that has no backbone.

She speaks. We are listening and returning to her. Not in glamorous buildings with elaborate window stains to a face of a Jesus who they chose for us to see. But she has shown us her sons and daughters through the acts of protestors who stand against police brutality. She has shown us her sons and daughters through those who feed the homeless and demand affordable housing. She has shown us her sons and daughters through those who fight against voter suppression. She has shown us Jesus. Her children are many. Her children are powerful. Her children is love.

The church is not dead. She is very much alive with open arms and a great big smile, welcoming us home! And the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. Yeah, I know, the Peters are fuming!

Hallelujah!!

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.