NEW SERIES – Say Their Names: The Missing Women in Our Faith Narrative

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The last year has been hard. Excruciatingly hard. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure when it began. And if I only had one word to describe it, I’d use anxious. Anxious over the seemingly mundane but obligatory responsibilities that come with adulting. Anxious over balancing multiple roles and hats because my no filter seems to be broken. Anxious over the mass graves that I see piling up all around as life, after life, is taken from the human family violently and unrepentantly.

I first noticed this anxiety last June as black body after black body was taken from us. I felt myself feeling unnecessarily irritable and impatient but also sad. I was on the verge of tears over trivial things, but the box on my heart marked ‘emotional capacity’ had sprung a leak. And when tears weren’t welling up in my eyes, I was jumpy at the slightest misgiving. Understanding that this was not normal, because hey, my life was different before this, I rehearsed possible scenarios in my head before important meetings and interactions with typically stressful people, to make sure I didn’t just snap off. And if all else failed, I just avoided situations that I knew would trigger trauma unnecessarily.

Then I started to experience back pain which impacted my mobility to drive, to walk, and to simply do life well. The pain had been sitting patiently underneath the surface until the tipping point of life caused it to rear its ugly head. The first time I went to go see a chiropractor about the pain, I walked into his office a weepy, crying mess, not because of the actual pain of my neck but because I felt the compounding weariness of life resting on my muscles. When the doctor asked me where it hurt the most, I cried out everywhere, failing to understand how much I was prophesying with my body because Alton, Philando, Dallas, the babies in North Minneapolis, Baton Rogue, and Korryn were just weeks away.

Not six months away from when we buried these souls, we now find ourselves in the midst of another crisis and this time, it is not just black bodies under threat. Our new president has made it expressly clear that he is not only coming after blackness, but everything that does not look like whiteness, and to be more specific, white, male, evangelical, wealthy, heterosexuals. In just one month, he has started to dismantle the few things that were righteous and true about our country including upholding civil rights law and protecting the environment. He has ramped up his efforts to Build a Wall to keep Latino immigrants out and has also banned people from seven Muslim countries – both those who are Muslim and Christian and those who are permanent residents of the United States – at the airport refusing to let them in. In addition, cabinet appointees are diligently working to dismantle all of the departments and services that actually benefit the American people. The rapid pace of these compounding crises, not to mention, the ways in which his moves are alienating other sovereign nations, is a sure recipe for monumental catastrophe across the globe.

As a poem that I wrote a few weeks ago affirmed, it is impossible and dangerous, to live a life like this. Fight and flight is a natural defense mechanism when there is need to quickly respond in an emergency but we cannot possibly imagine that every waking second of our lives is an emergency! Living like this will take a toll on our heart, bodies, and minds overtime, and will defeat the best of us if we are not adequately prepared. Post-traumatic stress disorder is real, and if things continue as they are, we – as a society – will only plunge further into the abyss of mental illness and instability. Not only so, but the constant fear will push us further away from one another, limiting our capacity to enjoy deep human connections and live in community.

So, what are the strategies to move us forward? How do we find ourselves on the other side of despair and chaos? How do we lift our eyes from our current situation, surrounded by death and destruction, to a new reality where love, joy, and freedom are more than just a nice idea but are actually a reality?

Faith. Faith that what we see and experience at this present moment won’t last forever. It’s temporal. While structural racism and oppression and every pain associated with it, including gun violence, unhinged presidents, poverty, and mass destruction in communities of color and American Indian communities, seem to be all encompassing now, these things will come to an end. One day, and one day soon – I know – God will redeem us back to Himself and in that process, we to each other. 

And Hebrews 11 gives us a glimpse at what faith looks like by profiling the lives of godly men in the Old Testament text who were known for trusting in God against all odds. We become re-acquainted with Abel, who though poor, gave out of his poverty a pleasing sacrifice to God contrasted to his brother Cain who was rich, and gave to God very little. Abel teaches us what it is to allow faith in God to determine our gifts of time, talent, and resources.

In the same passage we learn about Enoch, friend of God, who exhibited such great faith in this being that he could not see, that God took him from the earth to be with him. Unlike the rest of us, Enoch never experienced death but was transported to his heavenly home

We learn about Abraham, who trusted in God for children in his old age and who left his home for a country he did not know. And greats like Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthath, David and Samuel – all men who held onto God’s promises and did great things in His name in spite of their imperfections and sin.

These stories are all great and good. But where are the women? Where are the narratives of the women who, in addition to the great men of God lifted up in our text, also waited for promises, for deliverance, for blessings? Where are the narratives of women who fought against oppression in spite of what doing so may have cost them – who withstood evil empires and who refused to allow the deaths of their fathers, husbands, and sons go unpunished?

The truth is that their narratives are largely missing, and if they are referenced, they are either nameless or exploited, such as Rahab who is mentioned right along with the fact that she is a harlot. Her past continued to follow her regardless of the faith she displayed.

For all intents and purposes, this writer defines faith in the context of men. Maybe for his time, his thoughts were considered radical, cutting edge, and progressive because he gave at least a head nod to women, but it is not sufficient for us when we know that there are women throughout time who have displayed remarkable faith in the face of great odds. This affirms that the Holy Spirit, who inspired Scripture, was still bound by the cultural and contextual realities of very human writers.

The world does not have enough libraries to contain the stories of women who have, in faith, moved mountains and kept the sky from falling. And in times like these, when the pain of structural oppression and patriarchal violence threatens to snuff out every bit of hope, we need their stories of faith to draw from.

It is not enough to know that these stories exist without being specific about who these women are and what their stories are. This level of erasure in our faith lives only allows the marginalization of women, and subsequently all of the lives that women bear, to persist. All over the globe, women sit at the intersection of gender-based violence, classism, ethnocentrism, racism, religious extremism, homophobia, and more. As a result, women are often the most vulnerable victims to acts of violence. When the stories of women are lifted up and included as part of our faith experience, it quells the cycle of oppression whereas when they are erased, oppression is normalized as part and parcel of the human experience.

Yet erasure also severely compromises our collective ability to live into who God has called us to be as a body of believers. If both men and women are created in the image of God, the missing stories of women also translate into missing stories about God. We then end up only validating male gendered qualities in God such as physical strength and prowess, and ignore female gendered qualities such as sensitivity, wisdom, gentleness, and intuition. As a result, we approach all of the problems in the world through our warped interpretation of who God is instead of from a deeper understanding of who God truly is. No wonder we are in trouble!

Over the next few weeks, I want to tell the stories of amazing women in the Bible who like our male heroes, exercised and operated from a deep sense of faith. And from their stories, I will expound on other historical and modern day examples. Outside of the biblical text, I will only lift up the faith narratives of black women because in our sociopolitical landscape in this present moment, black women are often the most exploited. Depending on the situation at hand, black women sit at the intersections of multiple marginal oppressions including classism, gender based violence, homophobia, and ableism. Even so, black women are often the first to speak out and resist our oppression and the oppression of our families. We are invisible emotional laborers, mothers (even to those who are not our own children), liberators, innovators, and world changers – often the first to be called on in times of trouble and the last to be recognized during times of celebration and praise.

Our prophetic voice runs as deep in our DNA as does the memories of slavery and racism. Yet our voices are often silenced, or at least drowned out by others who co-opt our stories for their own gain. This series will lift up our stories – understanding that because our humanity is so deeply intertwined with each other, none of us can be free until black women are free!

The first woman from the biblical text that we will look at is Hagar. Stay tuned for the next story!

Justice and the Kingdom of God

This past Sunday I had an opportunity to preach at Lighthouse Mpls Covenant Church where my wonderful friend, Dee McIntosh is the pastor. Check out the sermon in this video:

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With This Little Light

20170119_215434The candle that I hold in my hand is small and seemingly insignificant. In a room full of other light, it goes mostly unnoticed. But in times of darkness, such as a power outage, I search for its light to illuminate the room so that I can see.

In many ways, I feel like this candle. Small. Quiet. Barely noticeable in a sea of greatness. A lifetime of being told that I don’t measure up and am not qualified enough, strong enough, charismatic enough, or whatever else, sometimes causes me to doubt that the light inside of me can be of any real worth to the world – just like the candle in my hand. But in times of spiritual darkness and despair, I am reminded that no matter how small or how great my light is, and no matter what others have told me about my light, that I can shine the spotlight on the truth of God’s Word and God’s world so that we can see. At this hour, we all need to see.

So with this little light of mine, I first shine on me. I pray that God would open my eyes to see what He sees, hear what He hears, and understand what He understands. I pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate my heart and mind so that through His leading I will do what He has called me to do – whether that ‘to-do’ is to provide for a brother or sister in need, march with co-laborers in the fight for social justice, or prophesy in Spirit and in truth against an evil regime. I pray that I would throw of the lies that have been told about who I am and who I should be, and stand upright in the knowledge that I am fiercely loved by my creator.

With this little light of mine, I shine on my family. I pray that God would use both those who are near and far to represent love and mercy, justice and kindness. Through our lives characterized by faithfulness and sacrifice, I pray that God would show those around us what it is to truly follow after Him. I pray that we would make the kind of choices that prove that our love for God and love for others is truly real.

With this little light of mine, I shine on my people, my kin – African Americans. For nearly 400 years, we’ve been fighting the same fight against racism, white supremacy, capitalism and dehumanization. Through the Spirit’s power, I pray that we would find some answers. Through the light inside of all of us, I pray that we would powerfully resist and counter whatever new-fangled form of oppression the system throws our way. I pray that we stand, not as individuals, but as a community of people with a shared history. I pray that even when our strategies may not align, that we would take up the God-given mantle that resides within all of us to secure justice for our children and our children’s children.

With this little light of mine, I shine on other marginalized identities – immigrants of all races and nationalities; those experiencing religious persecution; people who are differently abled; the poor and otherwise economically disenfranchised; the widow and the orphan; LGBTQ communities; and women of all racial, economic, and religious backgrounds – even including those who may not see that I am as much as a part of them as they are a part of me. I hold all of our multiple identities up before God understanding that we all are suffering in different and distinct ways. In spite of the difference, I pray that we would unite and stick by each other. I pray that we build new communities and new alliances, and together begin to imagine what it would look like if we were all truly free.

With this little light of mine, I shine on our country. Oh Lord, have mercy on this country with its roots that are rotten and foundation corrupt. Have mercy on those who continue to wreck havoc on innocent lives simply for material gain that they cannot take beyond this earthly realm. Have mercy on those in power who don’t give a damn about the people and only care about themselves. In spite of the beginnings, I pray that you steer this country on a pathway of healing and reconciliation, justice and restoration. Redeem our past, as awful as it is, so that we may have a future.

With this little light of mine, I shine on our world. People around our globe are suffering under tyranny and oppression. God have mercy! People are seeing their children perish before their eyes for the sake of power, prestige, and resources. God have mercy! Our governments across the world continue to play a game of chicken with our lives and are doing very little to address climate change, protect the world from nuclear war, and ensure that our world economies provide for all. God have mercy! Through your power, steer us on the path of righteousness. Let leaders across the globe who have been on the path of evil and destruction awake from their slumber so that they begin to pursue justice instead. With this light, I pray for economic strategies that work for all of us instead of a few of us. And I pray that those who have been trapped in cycles of oppression – whether they be in India, Senegal, Honduras, or right here in the United States – receive liberation.

And with this little light of mine, I hold us all. Each and every 7 billion of us. Not just for the next four years but for as long as it takes to see God’s kingdom unfold before us. And God’s kingdom, contrary to the empires of this world, is characterized by love, justice, mercy, forgiveness, and hospitality. There is enough food, water, land, and shelter for all – no one is hoarding, no one is stealing, everyone is content with the resources they have been given and generously gives to other. In God’s kingdom, our relationships are deep. The potential of community is fully realized. Our children our safe. Our elders are revered. And the environment not only nourishes but replenishes our soul. With this little light of mine, I will keep lifting up this vision until it is fully realized. Now my little light does not seem to be so little anymore.

Choosing Life, One Generation at a Time

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Today, I sit before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, so that you may live, you and your descendants.
– Deuteronomy 30.14

The task that is laid before the people of every generation is whether or not they will follow after God. Will they build upon the good works and faith of the ancestors who have gone on before them? Or will they turn away from the path laid out before them and embrace chaos, destruction, and death instead, pushing the world further away from existence? Will they seek to redeem the despotic decision making of their fore fathers and mothers by fighting for justice and telling God’s good news about deliverance? Or will they, like their ancestors before them, persist in grinding the face of the poor for power and profit?

No matter the good done by those before, subsequent generations are expected to affirm their commitment to living a life modeled after God’s ideas rather than imperialistic obsessions with greed, evil, and death. While the idea of generational blessings has merit from a theological standpoint, this idea still clarifies the need for each generation to stand for justice and righteousness. No generation of people are exempt from having to make such a commitment, each is called to decide and declare its allegiance to God – most notably in times of transition including political and economic instability.

This is the challenge that the Israelites faced after being freed from Egypt. Three generations made distinctly different choices in their decision to follow after God. The first generation, or Moses’ generation, exhibited unfaith even though they witnessed with their own eyes God’s saving power. In spite of all that God had done for them – parting the Red Sea, dropping bread out of the sky, and so many other miracles – they complained, worshipped idols, and also simply refused to believe in God. As a result of their actions, they died out in the wilderness and failed to fully inherit all that God had for them. The second generation, Joshua’s generation, made different choices. Unlike their parents before them, or perhaps because of them, this generation inherited the Promised Land as a result of consistent, albeit imperfect obedience to God. The third generation, not knowing anything about Joshua or how God delivered the Israelites, pursued evil. The people of this generation, and even ones proceeding after it were consistently described as ones who did was what right in their own eyes and had little regard for God.

Similarly throughout the lineage of the Davidic Empire in Israel, each generation made different decisions in terms of how they would either follow God by pursuing justice, mercy, and humility or turn away from God. David, though an ardent worshipper, compromised his faith by pursuing prestige, power, and possessions – even those that belonged to other people. Although God gave his son Solomon the authority to build the Jewish Temple, Solomon greatly oppressed those within the kingdom to not only pull off the building of this great edifice but other visible institutions of the Empire. In addition, his pursuit of political power at the expense of his love for God cost him the intimacy that he once enjoyed with God. And Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, decided to further depart from God’s will instead of improving upon his ancestors weaknesses. Although he knew about how his father Solomon bought and sold people for the sake of expansion, and how David – his grandfather – was responsible for so much bloodshed, both within and without the kingdom, Rehoboam vowed to make things even worse for the people when presented with the opportunity to ease the burden of the oppressed: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (I Kings 12.11, NASB).

Yet, disobedience and departure from the ways of God came with a cost. In each instance when a generation chose to pursue injustice instead of embracing God’s shalom, there was catastrophe. Though this catastrophe was most often felt among those who were already oppressed – after all, vulnerable and marginalized communities often pay the most in times of civil and political unrest – there were consequences for every decision that squelched the opportunity for God’s love, peace, mercy, and justice to be felt among God’s people. Such was the case with Rehoboam – his persistence in following evil was a pivotal moment in Israel’s history that precipitated the downfall of the empire. Unfortunately, the kings that arose after him made similar decisions which only hastened the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and captivity of the people.

God always gives us a choice. Because He is patient and kind, not willing for anyone to perish, He consistently extends to each and every one of us the opportunity to chose Him. Not just to believe in Him or express faith in Him, but to back up what we believe about God by our commitment to pursue justice, love, and mercy instead of injustice, hatred and war.

Somehow we forget that this is what God is concerned about. We forget, or rather we do not know, that God’s heart aches for the broken and despised in this world. He grieves over the fatherless, the widow, the foreigner – people who have been made poor because of the systems of this world. Because He is concerned about them, He demands that we be concerned about them. Over and over and over again throughout the biblical text, He raises our consciousness on the plight of these and asks us to choose: Choose life so that you may live. Clothe the naked. Feed the hungry. Liberate those in prison. Preach good news to those who are hopeless as a result of their condition.

God’s Clarion Call Today

Once again, we are at a point in history where God is asking us – and by us I want to specifically address Christian believers and also recognize that He extends the same invitation to the rest of the world – to make a decision. I call out the Church specifically because, unfortunately, we have a track record of ignoring social problems – if not condoning them – for the sake of comfort and security. In our time, right now, people across the globe are suffering tremendously because of the United States’ obsession with power. Because of power, we wage war against nations with impunity. Because of power, we consume the world’s goods – without care for who or what we are dispossessing even if the one that is being dispossessed is the earth itself. Because of power, we make allegiances with nations who are bent towards evil and ignore the plight of nations that are suffering because of our policies. 

And that is just what we are doing to people outside of our nation’s borders. The things that we are doing to our own kin are just as atrocious and despicable. Although this nation has always despised Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC), we are now seeing this hatred at a heightened level. The policies that were arguably covert since the Civil Rights era are now overt making it nearly impossible to deny that racism and white supremacy not only exist, but are still preferred weapons of war against non-whites. Will we stand to see stand to see Latinos deported, Muslims targeted, Blacks criminalized, American Indians lose even more land, LGBTQ persons increasingly discriminated against, and the poor of all races and cultures pitted against each other as the nation hoards more and more resources? Or will we stand and say no? Will we make a clear, unequivocal statement saying that we not only support these moves but will resist them through civic engagement, advocacy, civil disobedience, and prayer?

In recent history, the Church was called to make a similar decision. This time, the location was Germany and the people who were being persecuted were the Jews. As Nazism increased in the country, there arose a strange marriage between nationalism and Christianity, where the church produced anti-Semitic literature, banned Christians of Jewish ancestry from membership, and defaced the sacred scriptures – throwing out the Old Testament and amending the New Testament scriptures to erase Jesus’ connection to Judaism.

In his book, Living Faith: How Faith Inspires Social Justice, Dr. Curtiss DeYoung writes that in spite of the fact that church leaders were bothered by these moves, many refused to speak against Hitler. “They were encouraged at how the Nazis were reviving the nation’s morale and economy. And Nazi anti-Semitism was far from foreign to much of Christianity, which had a long anti-Semitic history, based on church teachings that Jews were guilty as a race for the death of Christ. (Living Faith: How Faith Inspires Social Justice p 30).”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the few pastors – let alone Christians – who took a stand against Hitler noted how incapable the church was in standing up for justice, in spite of the teachings of the Jesus who advocated for such a witness against evil empires and oppression. For Bonhoeffer this “revealed the problematic character of its entire past: its veneration of and obedience to the state, its support for the traditional class system, its resistance to social change, its indifference to the plight of workers and the poor, and its opposition to socialism and working class politics” (ibid, 35). Unfortunately, Bonhoeffer was not just referring to the church in Germany but the entirety of Western Christian witness noting that delegates at the World Council of Churches held in Denmark of 1934 were resigned to the reality of war in Europe. At such a critical time in world history, Christians failed to speak and exercise the gift of the Holy Spirit working on the inside of them.

Listen, I’m not equating what’s going on in our nation and conspiring nations to what happened to the Jews – although there are strikingly similar comparisons that we must stay vigilant about. However, regardless of the scale of evil – whether it is concentrated in one region of the world or widespread across the globe – as Christians, we must speak out about it. We must speak if it affects us directly and we must speak if it does not. As a result of the church’s failure to speak, millions of people died in the Holocaust – Jews, blacks, people with disabilities, and anyone Hitler found a political threat, including Bonhoeffer himself. As a result of the church’s inability to extend compassion, love, and justice to others, millions more in our own life times are living lives under siege. Will we ignore their suffering and turn a deaf ear to their cries as did the church in WWII? Or will we choose life so that we, our descendants, our kin around the world, may live?

Oh, I pray that we choose life. Today, in this moment, let it be said that this generation chose life. Let it be said that we resisted. That we prayed. That we gathered around the dispossessed. That we extended God’s love to those who are near and far. That we refused to hide behind comfortable Christianity and took a chance on love, took a chance on God. That we welcomed the kingdom of God among us as we provided for the needs of those who are without. That’s my prayer for you, that’s my prayer for all of us as we embrace this New Year.

With love,
Happy 2017

Where Do We Go From Here? Maintaining Faith in the Midst of Suffering

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Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him. For the help of his presence.” – Psalm 42.5

After another agonizing week of around the clock coverage of the war against black bodies, we find ourselves here again. Once again, we rise in protest because of another shooting of black men, women, and children. Once again, we offer analysis and critique of a system that continuously devalues our lives. Once again, we have conversations with colleagues, neighbors, friends, and even strangers about the urgency in dealing with this national sin. Once again, we petition God for cessation to this madness, praying that he would rescue us from imminent doom.

And with all of this, I still wonder if we are actually doing anything. It feels as if our prayers are falling on deaf ears, reverberating throughout the heavens yearning for someone to listen.

Does God hear? And if God hears, does he care? Can God actually do anything to save us?

As these crises continue, it proves that it doesn’t matter what we are doing – our melanin makes us an instant target. Whether we are armed or not, with our hands up or not, running or lying flat on the ground, able-bodied or disabled, cis-gendered or queer, young or old – the common denominator in them all is blackness. Blackness presumes that we are guilty regardless of what we do or what we don’t do. And that is disheartening as much as it is mind-boggling. If this was about behavior, we could act right even if it didn’t feel right if it meant that we would make it home. But it is not about behavior, how good or how bad, it is about this skin, this blackness which God created.

We can’t change this skin. We can’t peel it off or wake up one day shades lighter so that we can escape the white gaze. Yet the longer we stay in it, the longer our fate remains the same. All it takes is one traffic stop, one sidewalk encounter, one word misinterpreted, one glance mistaken for anger – as if we didn’t have a right to be. Can God get us out of this mess? Didn’t he know what they would do to us, that they would despise and kill what he deemed beautiful?

Deep in my heart I know that things will change. And yet my confession of faith sounds trite and feigned even to my own ears. I sympathize with Baldwin and Coates’ lack of faith in a divine deliverer as the past 400 years suggests that deliverance isn’t coming and at the same time, my blackness denies me the opportunity to surrender to the notion that this is all there is. Hope against hope is the only thing that sustains as black corpses fill my facebook feed night after night after night. With every new hashtag, I feel my heart leap out of my chest. I have stopped looking. I have stopped counting.

Too oppressed to give up the fight of faith. In a sense, agnosticism is a luxury of the privileged, those who don’t have to spend entire generations praying for relief to come. And yet, faith cannot simply be deduced to a product of poverty and oppression. I disagree with the notion that suffering helps us to center our faith, because then racism sounds like the intent of the divine and not the workings of evil men who have purposed in their hearts to ransack the earth of all of its goods. I choose to believe the latter and still, it brings me little comfort as then we have to question whether God has the capacity to make the suffering stop.

If I keep fixated on the news feeds, I begin to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the suffering. Every single day, it seems, there is a new Emmett Till. Before we can even grieve the loss of one of soul, we learn of another. The sheer rate at which our black brothers and sisters are falling – with no plausible end in sight – can leave one to deduce that God is not as powerful as we once imagined him to be. We’ve been praying. We’ve been fasting. Not just in this moment but for centuries. Though methods have changed, the fact that we are brutalized remains the same. If deferred hope makes the heart grow weak, the absence of hope surely kills it.

It is one thing to have our bodies thrown about because our blackness too closely resembles God’s image; it is quite another to allow our spirits to die because we have grown disillusioned by the suffering. If our spirits die, we will never survive this sadistic society.

We must press on. We must fight to maintain this ancient faith, not the white man’s faith but this faith that flows from where the Nile meets the Euphrates. It is this faith that enabled our ancestors to survive slavery, and it is this same faith that empowered them to fight for their freedom. This faith empowered our people to escape the Jim Crow south, to protest against lynching, stand up for voting rights, and march for freedom. We cannot abandon it, even in desperate times like these. We cannot walk out on God, even if we can’t see where God is moving in this moment.

Just as he led the children of Israel through the Red Sea to escape Pharaoh’s army and led our very own people out of slavery, he will lead us away from this. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I choose to believe change is coming.


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Charleston

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Your oppressors forced you to carry a cross,
That they fashioned with their own hands
That killed your loved ones and would eventually claim you.
They made you say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”
As they mocked and spat upon you,
And persisted in nailing you to that beautiful, wretched dogwood.

Every word you spoke in that moment was precious,
We knew that life was leaving you.
The more you tried to grasp it, the quicker it left
You did not understand that the confession would not buy you any more time.
And that soon enough, the oppressors would succeed in their task
Guilt-free.

400 years of oppression and pain undone as you lay dying,
Suffocating under the weight of conquest, slavery, murder, and Jim Crow.
You became the scapegoat for a nation that did not want to be saved.
They only wanted absolution.

I mourned for us that day.

Give Me Faith…Like a Woman

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Sometimes I feel like Moses, praying you would send someone else.

At times I feel like Gideon, desperately looking for a sign that you have spoken to me.
On occasion I feel like Saul, hoping to disappear into the background. 
And other times, I feel like Jonah, wishing to be overcome by a whale so that I won’t have to stand and proclaim your truth in the midst of oppression, evil, and despair.

But then I look to Deborah, who boldly stood up to face her enemies.
And I look to Ruth, who willingly left her family and her land to take hold of a promise that was greater than herself.
And to Rizpah, who brazenly protested against the Davidic empire after he killed Saul’s sons.
And to Esther, who understood her power and looked death straight in the face saying, “If I perish, I perish.”
And then I see Mary, who willingly bore the Savior of the world even though it cost her close relationships as well as her reputation.
And Anna, who refused to die until she saw the coming of the Lord in her lifetime.

Make me like these women who unequivocally understood their God given worth.
Make me like these women who knew what they were called to do and refused to allow male patriarchy, oppression, and even fear, stand in their way.
Make me like these women who were willing to stand out and against the crowd so that they could walk in your call and purpose.
It is the faith of these that I need today, so that I too can move, stand, resist, and proclaim God’s truth and justice to a world that consistently goes its own way. 

Give me faith like a woman who persistently hopes when there is very little to hope in. 
Give me faith like a woman who continues to dream of a better tomorrow when today looks so bleak. 
Give me faith like a woman who willingly defies death and destruction for the sake of her loved ones. 
Give me faith like a woman who nurtures, protects, and gives life to all of those around her.

Because our vulnerability, sensitivity, and love are not weakness. They are our strength.

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