Believe

Today is cloudy and the fog is very thick. I believe, though, that the sun is shining behind those clouds, fighting to come through and will succeed.

Today is dreary and quiet. I hear no noise of children playing in the street. I believe, though, I will hear them again when the sun defeats the darkness.

Today feels hopeless. Watching those lost in the debris of an uncaring world. I believe, though, the sun will shine so bright, that we will have no choice but to look through the darkness and be forced to see our imperfections, but also see our possibilities.

Today we will discover that we are the light that shines, we are the ones we have been waiting for.

Nothing

There is so much to say during this pandemic! And yet I have absolutely nothing to say. I feel exactly the way a blank sheet of paper feels. Nothing coming from the page. Just a stare. Maybe a sigh. A tear. So I will embrace nothing, hoping that something will come tomorrow.

Oscar Night

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I’m looking at the 2020 Oscars and having a moment. Remembering when I was eight years old and saying one day I’m going to be on stage getting that Oscar. I loved acting and singing, knowing at such an early age what my talent was. I just knew one day I would be there. I’m not.

Yes, I’m sad that I did not reach out for my dreams. I’m sad that I didn’t try, at all to go for what I knew I could do. I should have listened to my heart and not listened to my mother who wanted to make sure I was able to eat and said, go to college, study business administration and get a skill to fall back on. I remember sitting in the back of the college auditorium, seeing students rehearsing for their upcoming play, “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Me, next day, singing, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, in the girl’s dormitory bathroom and hearing one of my floor mates applauding the sound of my voice. I should have changed my major then.

It’s not anyone’s fault. But let me just say this to a parent who could be poor, afraid that you don’t have much to offer to your children, afraid that your children’s life may pattern the life of yours. Tell your child to trust their gifts, tell your child their talent is big enough to carry them into success. For if you don’t, you child will pattern their life after yours, a life of being afraid, a life of shoulda, woulda, a life of sitting sixty years later, drinking a glass of red wine, wondering what could have been.

I don’t dislike my life now. It took be a while to get to a place of contentment. But damn, I could have been a star!!

I love church….but sometimes??

Last Sunday I went to church. I wasn’t exactly excited about going. I did go out of responsibility and unfortunately that was about it. Church for me has become a difficult journey. I don’t know why or maybe I do and don’t want to admit that in this adult life, church is not what my mother told me it is, a place to welcome you and to love on you and to get saved. Really… my mom didn’t say to welcome you or to love on you (I thought maybe that would just make me feel better) but she did say to get saved. But still there is something that I quite can’t put my hands on. No, I’m not excited about going to this place but when I’m there, preaching, worshiping, praying, I so enjoy seeing people happy, smiling and letting them know that they matter.

Throughout church service with the choir singing and people sharing their hopes and pains, it is all so beautiful until the call “to be saved”. I could not shake the uneasy feeling I had that something wasn’t right about this. People who gathered into church came because of a number of reasons. Some that I can think of are to be part of a community, some seeking to find forgiveness, some who are seeking to be loved, some seeking to get into a heavenly realm, some I guess seeking to be saved because they believe themselves to be unworthy. But “being saved” seemed to be the only reason the church exist. And on that thought is where I find church difficult.

What would happened if all Christian churches would take people as is and not define them needing to be saved, but instead needing to be accepted and loved?! What would happened if people were able to walk into a church and breathe and not fear because the world is scarier enough to deal with?! What would happened if the church decides that all who walks through the door has no judgement but only the opportunity to become whole?! What would happened?

And what are we being saved from? Or saved to? And will God only love me if I get saved? I don’t remember Jesus ever saying anything about this to the point where we put so much emphasis on it that the church only becomes concerned about one’s salvation so you can go to heaven….until then…well… you’re on your own!

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

This is not a call for individual salvation….this is a call for community salvation. And eternal life is not something we look to experience after death but living life fully now, living life with hope and assurance, with love and acceptance. I mean is the church really just saving for the “way up yonder” moment and the right now doesn’t matter?

As I’m writing this, I just happened to see someone on a website holding up a sign saying, “Repent or Go go Hell!” Ugh!!

Yes, we seek God to enter our lives….all of what our lives look like. ALL OF WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE…and I truly believe God can handle what that looks like! God transforms, not the church. The church, the ecclesia, the community supports…not damage.

I’m at a point in my life, as a preacher of the Gospel, as a sister of humankind, as a wife and mother I want to greet all those who enter into the church and welcome them, hug them and let them know they are saved from ridicule, judgement and self-doubt. I want them to know that God has always been with them. I want them to know that God loves them, relax and just breathe. And that the community, the ecclesia, seeks salvation along with them and God will provide that for us all.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Breathe!

Authenic Praying

My husband and I pray every night before we go to the sleep. Our prayers are sometimes short, serious and sometimes our prayers have a sense of humor in them. Our prayers are for our children, our nation, our dreams and we even pray that the person who is doing all the farting under the bedcovers will stop! We take turns in praying and to be honest I try to get out of praying when it’s my turn. I think because as a child, I was taught that prayers were to always be serious, always sound intense and that you should quench your eyes, shutting them real tight and sweating profusely because you wanted to make sure that God or your Higher Power knew your prayers were sincere.

How can anyone really pray when you are already stress about praying? It makes no sense. People project images, pretending to be something or someone they are not. All of us do it, at times. And the older we get, we realize that we don’t need to play those games anymore…it becomes tiresome and hey God, you’re gonna get what you get…. I figure you can handle it. So I pray in my authentic self, my words are not grand, sometimes I close my eyes, sometimes I get on my knees, but most times, I hold my husband’s hands and we lay in bed and begin to pray.

We pray to release our thoughts and concerns into the universe, our hopes and our aspirations and we believe that a Creator who creates the universe so carefully can take our prayers among with others who have a love for humankind, sprinkle those prayers and nourish the earth with those prayers that are prayers of love.  Prayers are never to be selfish, never to used as a device like a genie in a bottle and definitely never to be used to pray to a god to hurt people.  Prayers are an opportunity to hold the hands of your neighbor who you may never see or know but your very being shares with them a belonging to this universe created for all.  Your authentic self  in prayer mixed with everyone’s else hopes and aspiration produces a beautiful light that beams in our homes and communities but a prayer that is self-righteous, a prayer that is only to project an image produces nothing….it’s just noise in the universe.  

Tonight it’s my turn to pray.  I will be my jovial self, laughing and telling jokes, being who I am, holding my husband’s hand, having the air fresher close by and talking to my God, just as I am. 

Rev. J. 

 

 

 

Move Forward

There is no way you can be alive today in this nation in which we live and not be overwhelmed, bruised, hurt, tired, tearful, frustrated, angry, fearful and so much more painful feelings and thoughts caused by the evil ones.   We become stagnant.  Everything around us stop and all we can do is stand in one spot looking hopeless.

We.Can’t.Stay.Here.

Move Forward.  One step at a time.
Move Forward.  The issues won’t magically disappear.
Move Forward.  The children must stop crying.
Move Forward.  Police brutality must end.
Move Forward.  White Supremacy must be destroyed.
Move Forward.  Nationalism cannot be the order of the day.
Move Forward.  Hunger must be wiped out.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves a home.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves an opportunity.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves a good education.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves freedom.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves love.
Move Forward.  Everyone deserves to see God.

Move forward and let your light shine so bright that it will cast out darkness so that others will see they too have a path to move forward.

Rev. J

 

 

 

 

You have permission.

Writing can be scary, at least for me.  I’m usually nervous about what people think…yep, still trying to get through that awful feeling.  I’m really learning how to put out in black and white how my mind works.  I know that itself may be dangerous.  I mean once you open yourself up to the world, you never know what kind of response the universe will throw back your way.  And to tell you the truth, that can be quite frightening when you expect the worse response.  Case in point, I started writing a small piece a month ago. I wanted to stop after typing the words , “I’m struggling.”  Fearful on what someone would say or fearful that someone thought I may need saving which the only thing I wanted to do was just write and have a fist fight with my thoughts.  So I stopped typing because what you think (not you really) of me was unfortunately winning.  Then  I received a note from a friend telling me she had not seen anything I wrote lately, like what happened??! Where did you go?  I just got scared to share.   But hearing the news of the suicide of Kate Spade (I have these adorable Kate Spade eyewear) and Anthony Bourdain (love this guy) I really should not care what response the universe gives me.  This is my healing, not yours (of course I’m not talking to you in an embarrassing voice) so here goes.  This is what I started to type a month and 6 days ago.

“I’m struggling.  No.  Not with an illness.  Not in my marriage. Not with finances. Not in a way that I need for friends and family to drop whatever they are doing to come see about me.  I’m just struggling.  It’s not a serious matter, of course, though what is serious to one person can be detrimental to another.  But I assure you, I’m just struggling.  Can’t really explain it.   Things don’t come as clear to me as they do for other people, I’m guessing.   I exist.  I  get up.  I try. I know I’ve been called to do more than just exist.  And there lies the issue.  That’s it!  I’m not struggling!  I’m not living!”

I was in a funk. I found so many reasons to pick an argument with myself.  Why did I gain so much weight?  I was doing so well!  Why is my hair still thinning, I’m taking my Vitamin D!  Damn!!!  Why am I still at this freaking job for 36 years?? You know the feeling sorry for yourself that you can’t even see your worth.  But I just realized something in vomiting my mess and insecurities.   I was living!  I was actually living!

Doing life involves all of this, days when the sunshine is so bright you don’t ever want it to end and days when the clouds consume you, you scratch to get out.  I was scratching to  get out from under the clouds…if I didn’t scratch to get out, then life, living does not happen. Experiencing the pain was living!  Getting out from under dark clouds mean that I scream, kick, pray and sometimes even curse.  Those actions and sounds are visible and loud.  I didn’t need to hide getting out in fear or others, I scratch to get out because of others!  My husband, my children, my friends, myself.  Because I’m worth living, even when life can be painful. I’m worth living all of it.  I’m worth living the happiness and I’m worth living the pain.

If you find yourself in a funk and someone tells you not to be there, don’t listen!  If you’re struggling and afraid to even say the words, “I’m struggling”, say it anyway.  And say it proudly!  It is not a moment to be prideful on what people will think, or how people will assume that you are not grateful that God is blessing you and you should be continuously happy!  There is a scripture that comes to mind, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 NRSV).  You have permission to scratch through the dark clouds, permission to cry, permission to scream, permission to live.

I’ve learned that I never stay in the struggle.  I go through, but I don’t stay!  Tomorrow is a new day!  You have a new day!  But if you want to scream today…. go ahead!!!

Mental illness is not a crime!  Mental illness is not a sin!!!  If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  1-800-273-8255.

Rev. Jacqui

 

 

 

 

Show Up!

The Royal Wedding was a delight!  Such  a positive and happy moment for a lot of people who just needed to feel comfort. Just to be able to sit in front of the television with no hearing of killings or rudeness that spews from the mouth of those who sit in powerful positions yet lack power in love.  Thank you Bishop Michael Curry for preaching to us today, reminding us that it’s not a fairy tale or just in our imagination that love,

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God’s Agape love can truly happen when “we all show up”.

Be a blessing to someone today!

Rev. J

 

 

 

 

 

Lilies & Daffodils

About twice a month I buy fresh flowers and place them throughout our Philly twin.  Lilies and daffodils are my favorite.  The flowers just seem to add a sense of  peace and they make me feel like I can take on every corrupt thing in this world and beat the hell out of it!  Yes, the lilies and daffodils give me that kind of power; like I can conquer and defeat all evil! I understand that vibranium from Wakanda is the precious stones we are all dying to get out hands on, if just in our imaginations, but right now lilies and daffodils are easier for me to put my hands on.   For moments, with the vase full of God’s peaceful creation, I can dance around the living room as the sun comes across the windows, hitting the daffodils and a streak of yellow curves and adds comfort and warmth.  For those moments, everything is alright in the world.  For those moments, there is no danger.  The lilies and the daffodils offer me a smile and provide me with a beauty that my soul apparently needs to view and believe that such beauty still exists.   These moments bring to light that life is still good and dreams are still right around the corner.

How do we stop and breathe and believe and dance and dream and admire and love and just be, again.  I know, it’s been awhile for all us.   Talks of wars, disregard for children, hatred which is normalized, evil which is confused with patriotism.    Yes, this period of time in our history is definitely a frightening one. Some of us may feel like there is something we should be doing to save it.  We just don’t know how.   We have closed ourselves off from each other, fearing one another.  We’ve unfortunately adjusted to the same ugliness that we despise; adjusted to smell of rotten bodies; our hearts are hardened.  We’ve closed our doors, turned off the lights, pulled the covers over our faces and dread for the tomorrow.  The tomorrow which we have already decided to be the same ugly day, tragic day, hard day, can you kick be any harder day?!! Yes these kind of days; these “freaking” normal days can not stay as “freaking” normal days.  Therefore, lilies and daffodils are required.  Lilies and daffodils are required to remind us that there is still beauty in the world.   God still allows beauty to grow among us.  God still allows inspiration in nature when God know longer can depend upon the heart of humankind.

Lilies and daffodils grow and gives to us intentional beauty.  Intentional to make one admire and feel great about the world in which one lives.  Intentional about providing happiness when we walk by a field of sunshine on a dreary day.  Intentional to make us notice it’s strength that they are here to serve us and give us an appreciation for God’s wonders and to let us know that God can still grow beauty in the midst of chaos.

Yes, simplicity of lilies and daffodils humbles us.

I don’t know what your favorite flower is.  Maybe you don’t like flowers.  But don’t you agree that we should remember how to dance?  That we should remember how to speak and smile at each other?  That we should remember how it feels to show kindness? That we should remember how to see beauty and even more important to relate to God’s wonders? That even the smallest beauty can give us the nod we need to know that God still need for us to believe that God is still believing for God’s greatest creation, humankind, to grow and shine in a dark and dreary world and help save it from it’s ugly demise?  There is time.  God is waiting.

So what kind of flower vase do you have?  Crystal, glass, ceramic?   Any will do!

Rev.  Jacqui