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.

Say a Prayer

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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.