Church Lady

She wore all purple. A purple suit that looked like it kept her warm in an old church building where cool air seeped in from the beautiful stain windows that are definitely historic and have much more character than any efficiency windows. She probably gave money towards the upkeep of those glorious windows. Her purple hat sat perfectly on her seasoned hair, falling at the top of her eyebrows just right with a wide brim, not too wide to hide her smile, but wide enough to pronounce her wisdom. In all purple, she exuded royalty and demanded it.

The church lady in all purple, who probably marched in many Civil Rights protests; raised her fist against her oppressors; stood outside in the cold registering folks to vote; prayed for her children and her children’s children; told the pastor what the community needed; demanded fair housing; grew a garden in her kitchen; organized the annual women’s tea; took the bus to sit with a sick friend; made a pound cake from scratch; learned how to navigate Facebook; washes her bed linen and iron them weekly; keeps a lace handkerchief and mint candy in her pocketbook; praises her God with no shame; this black woman in all purple, walks up to the church mic and begins to sing John Lennon’s song, “Imagine”. It was absolutely beautiful!

This was a bold move. I love this song! I have always said that it should be a hymn but the lyrics of the song would force us to think, to do exactly what the song calls for. To imagine a place, a world where love and unity resides. Instead of preaching a heaven and hell we imagine there is no heaven or hell below us, above us only sky. Above us only God. No religion, but only God. No possessions, but enough for all. Imagine sharing all the world. What would communities of faith look like if we walk in revolutionary love, repenting as a community, instead of finding ways to separate ourselves from each other? Imagine this kind of world can truly exist. We would have to be intentional in our thinking and caring of each other. We would have to see each other, fully.

The lady in all purple, with her best Sunday church hat on, holds her her high and belts out the last verse of the song. She is determine. She is strong, with no fear as to what the congregation will think or what they will say and she sings out with the voice of an angel, “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” The church lady has spoken! Let it be so!

Amen

Tonight

Tonight, find a moment to pray for families whose love ones have died due to this pandemic.

Tonight, find time to hold your love ones close to your heart, even if they are not physically present with you. Pretend that they are.

Tonight, find the strength to love more boldly with the intent that you can change the world.

Tonight, dream like you never have before for tomorrow calls us all to be and do better than ever before.

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!

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!

What Do You See?

What do you see? I see Beauty as she rises from the ashes of chaos. I see her dancing and hugging all that were covered with the soot of hopelessness and she provides shoes that sparkles when one walks which turns into stars at dust.

What do you see? I see Happy as he wipes the frowns from one’s face and makes one laugh with his jokes being careful not to offend anyone because there is one who is still fragile. One who still does not believe and cries turning tears into rain which turns into the sea.

What do you see? I see Love as they call names, one after the other, pronouncing each syllable perfectly, giving each one life, setting each one free and praying that one day, one will see what they see.

One will see that it is the very essence of their Being that makes this world go round.

What do you see?

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!!

Hold on…

“It” is taking too long. This was suppose to be your year. You planned to show up for your best self, to shine so bright that people would notice your existence. Your vision board even shows that this was it. You unfriended folks from your Facebook account and and blocked those you did not agree with from Twitter. You placed yourself around positivity and refuse to allow any kind of distraction to enter your space. The space you created was to be a space of creativity, of joy, where nothing, absolutely nothing can go wrong. How could it go so wrong? This was suppose to be your year.

Why would life throw you a curve ball now, when you have done so much to walk and move in your purpose, your destiny, your dream. “It is taking too damn long!”, you scream to the top of your voice. But to no avail, the clock doesn’t move, the days look the same, the seasons just past in its’ natural beauty, which you don’t notice. The image of the world does not match the image in your mind. Your mind sees possibilities. Your mind sees togetherness. Your mind sees love.

I don’t know what your “It” is that you have been dreaming of, waiting for, dying for. But rest assure, your “It” is still close by. Even, closer that you know. True, everyday appears that we wake to disappointments, too many to name. And yet, our mind refuses to give up, our dreams refuse to die. “It” pushes us to live. “It” pushes us to see what can truly be. “It” won’t let us quit.

God created in a space a world where God imagined wonderful possibilities. All of “it” God claimed to be good, then very good. Can you imagine even in the midst of chaos, God would stop creating? Of course not! God is still creating in you. You wonder why you still care, why you can’t stop dreaming and just throw in the towel. You can’t stop caring, you can’t stop dreaming, hoping, laughing, loving, being. God didn’t create you to stop. You, God’s greatest creation with eyes so bright, can still see a future how God imagined life to be.

Hold on. God believes in you. “It” won’t be long.

Lord, Walk with Me

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There is this song that I keep hearing in my head. It’s an old hymn sung in many black traditional churches in the South during the Jim Crow era. When I hear this song, I see the old but strong men sitting in the deacon corner and the women dressed in their white, as they prepare the table for the Lord’s Supper. I see courage in their eyes and an unbreakable spirit. I have been carrying this song in my spirit almost every day. I’m so glad that I am hearing it because it reminds me to stay in the fight for justice and freedom. This song reminds me to never give up and to never back down. You may not be a religious or spiritual person or even believe in a power that is greater than you. But I hope you have someone, a friend, your spouse, your pet, someone who loves you unconditionally that will walk with you through these troubling times. This is what I hear:

I want Jesus to walk with me. I want Jesus to walk with me. All along my pilgrim journey, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. In my trials, Lord, walk with me. In my trials, Lord, walk with me. When my heart is almost breaking, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me. When my head is bowed in sorrow, Lord I want Jesus to walk with me. (J. Jefferson Cleveland, 1937- Verolga Nix, 1933)

Listen as Mahalia Jackson sings her version.

Keep walking, one step at a time. Peace.

Happy Birthday Friend!

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My best friend died. We are the same age. We often celebrated our birthdays together; only two days apart. Her birthday is today. When the news came of her death, I didn’t move, first tears came and then anger. Yes, I was furious with her. We had not seen each other in three years. I moved away. She promised to visit one year and then changed her mind. Our phone conversations were always about politics and theology. And yes, those two things, politics and theology, go together like wine and cheese.

The phone calls stopped. I would call and leave messages. She would not respond to my texts. I thought she was angry with me for some reason. Maybe for moving away? But others tried to reach out to my friend as well; her sorority sisters and her family members; her two brothers who loved her dearly; her lover who turned her away. My friend chose not to let any of us in with things that were causing her pain and sorrow. My friend chose to handle her depression alone. Police officers called to do a safety check. Placing her in rehab with hope that she could be saved. My friend gave up on life. Why? I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish she could have talked to me or found someone that would listen and not judge her. You see my friend was not able to show her authentic self until much later in her life. One day she decided to come out to me. “I’m gay”. My response, “Sis, I know.” That was all we said after that but I knew her road ahead would not be an easy one. We are both in ministry where often the place my friend would be judged will be the church which she loved.

When my friend loved, she loved hard. She gave all of herself away and this would hurt her. Giving away her brightness and smile, just so that someone would love her back in the way she so deserved to be love. All she wanted was love. The same kind of love that we all wanted when we are looking for that person, that one who would love us unconditionally, that one person who would wake up next to in the mornings, have coffee with, read the news with, grow old with. I can’t imagine that most of my life would be searching to be who and what God created. But my friend, most of her life, was in search of acceptance to what God had so beautifully created. A gay black clergy woman.

Today is my friend’s birthday. Today she sprinkles herself along the beach lines and dwells with the one who has truly loved her. Today my friend no longer has to search for acceptance. God accepts her and that I’m glad about!

Happy Birthday my dear friend!