Eliza

Last week I attended my sister’s memorial service. I gave the eulogy. This was not difficult because my sister was special and great in all things! The best wife and mother, the best school teacher, the best community leader, she was just simply the best. My hope is that I will remember all the wonderful legacies she has left behind and how she taught me to be the best that I can be.

Eliza is her name. Born in 1931 during the heart of the Depression Era and raised in the evil of the Jim Crow Era. A black woman with tenacity and spunk, not wavering to white supremacy at all, but elevating herself to live life to the fullest. She reached back and pulled others with her, inspiring young people to know that they are worthy of all their dreams and aspirations. She graduated with her bachelors from Morris College in Sumter, SC, then went on to receive her Masters in Education from Hampton University, in Hampton Virginia. She defied all the odds and stood boldly in the face of those who said she was not worthy because of the color of her skin. I’m so proud that this woman of bravery was, is my sister.

When I think of Eliza, Proverbs 31 comes to mind. Of course, I am not a fan of Proverbs 31, really I’m not! This particular part of biblical religiosity was used so much to undermined what women should be by religious patriarchy standard. But I must admit, that a couple verses stood out which described Eliza. Proverbs 31: 16-17 which reads: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and make her arms strong.”

Eliza built a beloved community with the fruit of her hands. With her love for her family and for all black and brown children that she knew deserved so much more, she opened her heart. When I think of Eliza, I think of this old black and white picture which looks like she is considering how she can make a difference in this world. I love her for never giving up and never giving up planting a vineyard that will produce fruit for the ages to come.

Black Women can’t be stopped! We consider our communities and we invest in them. We toiled the field with our hands which produce beautiful fruit, Our arms are strong and our God is with us!

I love you Eliza!! I miss you, my sister!

Who do you learn from? Is it someone who makes the world better for everyone? Is it someone you can truly be proud of? Is it someone who looks like LOVE!!??? My sister is ALL OF THAT!!!!!!

Be blessed my Friends!!!!

Rev. JacquiP!

Old Woman with a Tattoo!

NYAME DUA “Tree of God – Altar”

I got my first and only tattoo at the age of 50. I chose a West African Adinkra symbol that represents God’s presence and protection. The tattoo is on the upper middle portion of my back and depending on what I am wearing, the tattoo is very noticeable. I remember I was sitting in the church pulpit, draped in my clergy robe, and one of the choir members came to me after service and said, “Wow! You got a tattoo before you were saved!” I can’t remember my response or maybe my response was not as kind as it should have been, so I rather not remember. Another time, I was attending a church conference and another clergy person behind me ask, “Why would you get a tattoo where people can see it? Why not put it lower down your back where it couldn’t be seen?” The sadness in this is that the question came from a young person who was in her twenties!!?? What could she be hiding that she is afraid for others to see? I was already a little nervous about people in the church seeing this symbol of freedom sketched in my skin, but at the same time I thought this beautiful rebellious act of declaring this freedom would also make me believe that I could truly be free. Every time I go to church, I take time to make sure that my symbol of authenticity is covered, not to cause anyone to guess whether I am saved or whether I belong.

Yes, at age 50, I was still searching for self, still searching for acceptance, of what I don’t know. I wanted to share my tattoo with friends and family because it was just such an amazing piece of art. I wanted so much to share with them the person of me. The weird thing is that I still even now cover this symbol that represents the God in my life, the God who loves me unconditionally and I am not alone.

There are many of us who cover up that very thing that represents God. We cover up the most amazing thing that shines about us because we may be afraid that our brightness will be too much for some to handle. Afraid that others will extinguish our lights, so why not hide this light for ourselves only, and bring that light out only when it is safe. Well, that does not work because there will come a time where you are unable to hold that thing that represents God for you. You will find yourself bursting with an excitement that is uncontrollable because after a while, you get tired and you don’t give a hill of beans and before you know it, that cover you put on to hide that mark of God’s beauty falls off and blows away.

God is uncontainable!

Be Bless My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

Do you….?

Do you feel that? Are you experiencing the same sense of tension in the atmosphere? I know I am not the only one. In fact, when I am near you I feel the tightness that is in your gut because my spirit reacts to your energy, or lack of. Don’t you feel that? A covering that is smothering us trying to stifle our souls. You are human right? Please tell me you feel what I’m feeling, please?

Don’t you see it? I mean do you not see the people in the street who are running for their lives, trying to hide from man-made hate and man-made climate interrupters! Don’t you see it? It is sad, isn’t it? Are you seeing the children too? I mean, can you put down your social life for just once! I really think you see this. You are human right? Please tell me you see it, please?

I hear something. You hear it too! Yes, you do! You can’t deny it, even though, you wish you could. I think I understand why you pretend everything is fine in the world. Yes, of course, it is a lot to handle! But I don’t believe we can pretend that the world is glorious and not in a horrible place right now. How do we not feel the souls of others spirits being crushed, or see children crying, or hear the earth rumble? We are human right? Please tell me you hear that sound, please?

Listen closely! Peace does not come with weapons or military might. Peace comes from us. Some will say that God will send the peace, so why do anything and just wait on God? Look around! I got news for you, God has been waiting on you. God has been waiting on us. We can pretend the world is just fine or we can say sorry God and by the way God, how can we help? It’s up to us, not God.

Be A Blessing My Friends! You are human, right? No robots here!

Rev. JacquiP

It’s Complicated

I may have written this before. Somewhere I am pretty sure I have used this same title. For that, I will not apologize. It’s complicated. So here we go…

As a black woman of faith, I am taught to seek joy in time of trouble. I am taught to experience gladness in time of sorrow. Sunday comes and I am reminded that whatever was or is troubling me the day before, my countenance should be as a holy glow, not a droopy woe. I am to clap my hands in praise and shout with joy before my God and be humble and thankful. Do not get me wrong, please. I love extending my hand to my God in praise of all the many blessings. But after one more child being killed by police, it’s complicated.

It’s complicated for me to smile and not show the trauma that impacts my body. It’s complicated to sing a song of triumph when my voice instead wants to moan. It’s complicated to lift up encouraging words when you know darn well the words are falling on ears that just want to hear, “Can we be real before God for a minute, please?” It’s complicated in our preparation that we clothe ourselves in an armor that is tough and hard to break, when in reality we are breaking. It’s complicated that we plan for the future with the past still in the back of our minds and the present showing up with past pains. It’s complicated that still we rise in the mornings and must meet the day like there is nothing wrong, like all is just a terrible dream and we must just get through it.

Just get through it, as we hear of another son’s death. Just get through it, as we hear of another’s son’s death, just get through it as we hear of another daughters death. Just get through it, as we notice the anger and violence that we are facing and the anger and violence we do internally to ourselves as we just get through it. I can’t get through it.

So now, God. Can I be real with you? No, I present myself before God with sadness, not joy. With anger, not gladness, with lament, not a smile. Not clapping my hands to pretend that all is well. Not walking with my head held high so others will feel comfortable. Not making a joyful noise for others who refuse to see my tears or hear my cries. No! For me to do otherwise is just too complicated.

Hear my prayer God. It’s complicated!

Amen

How to Care Instructions

I am adding plants to my home. Y’all, I am not good with plants. I know they should be green? At least the leaves? I bought two small plants, one I keep in the basement and one I have hanging in front of a large window in my dining room. Please don’t ask me the name of the plants because I threw away the little tab that had the name and instructions of how to take care of the plants. I figured adding water was all I needed to know. I mean, you add dirt and water, anything else, like plant food, correct temperature, singing to your plant is just a bonus, right? Actually, I bought three plants, unfortunately one died, so I kinda don’t count it. I did feel some remorse though, when I threw it in the garbage. The plant in the dark basement is thriving; I’ve learned this one doesn’t require much light or water. The plant in my window is holding on, leaves are dry and falling and it doesn’t seem as vibrant. I think I could be overwatering it and the cold air coming in the window probably don’t help, but I am giving it more attention by watching the branches and eyeing if more leaves are dropping. I agree, I should not have thrown the “how to care” instructions away.

It has been almost a year of being inside away from the things that we enjoy. Being away from those that we love, from from our churches, synagogues and mosques. Away from the things that also brought us life, our favorite restaurants, attending concerts of our favorite artist, partying with friends and celebrating getting a pay check on a Friday night. We all are dealing different with this Covid-19 season. Some of us are thriving, finding new ways of being and growing in wonderful ways. Some of us are drooping along, trying each day to make it, trying to find our way by figuring out what is it that we need so that our bodies will stand tall again and our countenance will no longer seem sad. Some have found that right amount of sunlight and water; some have found that they may require something different. We all come with a different set of instructions and my belief, intuitively, we already know what that is. But there is one common thread that we all require and that is love. We require to be love and to give love. Without the instruction of someone’s DNA, without the tab that tells us how to care specifically for one another, we seek to pay attention to each other. We notice if someone is hurting, we notice if someone is hungry, and we even notice when someone is happy and join in their joy.

The plant in the window looks like it may survive. I love the hanging basket that it sits in, but I may have to move it. As beautiful as the sun shines on it, the cold air stifles its’ growth and I want it to live. In fact, I need for this plant to live, in hopes that I can redeem myself from the one I threw in the trash. But more importantly, I need for you to live. I need for you to live strong. I need for your branches to reach to its highest height. I need for you to have the right amount of water, the correct temperature and a song that only belongs to you. And when you smile, I rejoice in seeing your face glow with excitement. God requires us to care and love each other. Let’s do that! “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Yes, I agree. I need to know the name of my plants. I will work on that!

Rev. Jacqui P.

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!

An Angry Prayer!

Another friend has died. I saw the Facebook post with unbelief, saying how could this be? He just posted a funny story a few days ago. This has to be a lie. But it wasn’t. And I became angry. My anger was and I think still is directed to God. This is so hard because feeling anger towards God is wrong, right? I mean, the one that I uplift, the one that I sing praises to, the one I depend upon, the one that I preach about, the one that I follow and ask others to follow. Another friend has died, doing the work of caring for others, following what God asked of him. I am livid! So God, hear my angry prayer.

God, I know you are here but it does not feel like you are. There is sorrow and anguish that we are facing and yes, it feels like we are alone. Hearing of hundreds of thousands dying and friends, family crying and trying to do the best they can. Hear this prayer, O God. We have seen you in our troubles before. We have heard how you cried when your people were taken and we have heard how you rejoiced when your people were found. We read stories of how you have healed the sick and even raised the dead. Hear this prayer, O God! See our anger, see our tears. Remember how much you love us, even when we do not love others. Hear us as we scream out to you. Our voices may rattle, our tone sincere, our use of words may not all be appropriate. But you already know, because we are your creation, you already know we are tired. Comfort, O God your people. Remember us. Remember the songs we sang, when all was well. Remember our dancing as we rejoiced, when all was well. Remember our attention to you, when all was well. We know you are here. We know you see our anger. We know you see us. We are not going anywhere; we are patiently waiting on you.

Amen

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

So ready for this to be over!

“How long O Lord!?” I’m not the prophet, Habakkuk in the Old Testament, but I sure understood his frustration with all the insane things happening in his nation! He is a prophet I can admire, all of his transparency on full view who is not concern that because of his status as prophet he should appear stoic and together before the people of God, but instead felt like so many of us, lost, scared and angry.

For over four months we have forced ourselves to put on smiles. We have adjusted or minds and bodies to accept a new way of being. We have admitted that some people in our households really do get on our last nerves. We have not allowed ourselves to grieve because, hey, we are adults, with careers, mortgages, little children and ego. I mean, what would it look like to the neighbors if we lose it?! Seriously, what would it look like? It would look like an act of love. It would look like giving your neighbor the permission to cry in your arms, it would look like allowing the neighbor a couple of doors down to admit that they are not strong. It would look like neighbors coming together for the common goal to be well…to stop pretending…and be well. It would look like an ass-kicking community that refuses to look perfect. Prophets talking to God, being honest and humble, admitting that we need help.

In Habakkuk day it was the people, who because of their egos, created an environment that brought havoc in their land; that even pushed God away. An environment that allowed one to be concern only for oneself. This prophet cries out for them. Can we cry out for ourselves and for each other? When we are selfish, we cannot survive. It does not matter any way you slice it, when we are only concern with our own little piece of earth, we lose our ability to cry out for each other and even sadly, for ourselves. We lose the ability to live life well. We miss the joy of using our talents to create what God has so ordained us to do…take care of the earth, take care of each other. We push God away.

Our help comes from each other. Our help comes from the caring that we show and allowing each other to be able to scream and get angry, not towards each other, not towards God, but towards hatred, sickness, inequity, homelessness, hunger, poverty…that maybe when we ball up our fist together, we come together to gather ideas to make life better for all, to create a world where because of our frustrations with those things that divide us, that frustration leads to good change, because we are so ready for it to be over!

This is not about God

God. I believe you hear us when we cry out. I believe you see our tears. Some folks have said that we should take this quarantine time to be quiet and still, to hear your voice, to make our relationship better with you, so that we can be saved, so that you can take us to heaven when we die.

We are many people and there are many names that we call you. So, I’m not sure exactly if all we are to do is to just be with you during this time or instead, listen and build on ourselves individually, that maybe, just maybe when this is all over, there will be so much love that overflows in this world because we have realized that what we do individually impacts what “good” can happen to the whole world.

God. This is not about you, right? This is not about us curling up in our corner, reading our bibles or other religious books just to say that we spent time with you. Right? In this moment, we are learning to be better stewards of the earth. Right? In this moment, we are learning to be who and what you created us to be, and that is to be “Very good”. Right? This is not about separating ourselves, only to return to those very thoughts that separated us before, self-centeredness, hatred, greed, lust, racism, sexism, all the things that are not loving. Right?

When our focus is on what God can do for me, we miss God totally. It is quite alright to meditate with God, quite alright to worship and praise. It is quite alright to seek God’s face. But it is not alright to hide behind God. This is not about God. This is how we operate in a world that God created for us to take care of, to manage, to help build people. God trust us in allowing us to name plants and animals, bodies of water, land. That’s a lot of of trust. Imagine, God trusting us to figure this thing out!

Where are you? What will you become when this pandemic is over? Will you become, “Very good?” This is my prayer for all us.