Do We Still Need Advent?

roll1_a000124-r1-14-22Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Isaiah 40:1-3 (English Standard Version)

It’s not even a week into December and the Holiday consumerism is so overwhelming it makes one want to flee to some deserted island in the middle of nowhere.  The “shop til you drop” mentality foisted on you is inescapable.  Add on all the Holiday “specials” the media throws up at us-on the small and big screen; and the emphasis on making merry can do a number on one’s spirit.  It’s as if you start to wonder if Advent is still needed; or, is it passe? I mean, if you look at Christmas Season 2016, it appears that the news of the coming Christ is all but gone.  It appears that Madison Avenue and Hollywood have steamrolled the Advent narratives with mass consumerism and its attendant ills.  If you’re not fortunate to attend a body of believers, you may never hear the Advent story at all.

Do we still need Advent?  Yes we do and more than ever!  We need to be reminded of Christ’s coming-the light of God shining into a dark world.  Like Israel of old, we need to know we’re comforted.  So much strife and heartache is happening-within and without-needs to be at an end.  We also need our iniquities pardoned as well by God.  Advent reminds us of this good news and calls us to it. Advent also prepares the way of the Lord-not an interstate-but a way to us through the spiritual desert that confronts us.

Advent will be there for us, to remind us of the good news of the coming Christ.  No amount of Holiday consumerism can stop Advent.  No constant Holiday media bombardment can stop Advent either.  Advent will burst through the Holiday shit as God’s highway to comfort us, to remind us of God’s forgiveness, and to end our warfare.

Yes, we still need Advent.  Thank God for Advent.

Peace.

(Image by Me)

 

 

Posted in Christianity, thoughts, society, culture | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Advent for the Rest of Us

4-waitingThe Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
Isaiah 61:1-2 (English Standard Version)

We’re sleigh riding along into the First Week of Advent, and we see Madison Avenue in its glory:  preceded by last week’s Black Friday and beginning with this week’s Cyber Monday.  I’ve seen people queuing up for stores to open; and cars lined up out into the highway to get in to a local mall.  Despite the fact that we’re transitioning into a new Presidential administration in the US where people are watching their wallets, we’re exhorted to spend our dough on many big-ticket items: from the newest X-Box to luxury automobiles.  Advent-the time of waiting for the coming Christ-has been corrupted into the “Holiday Shopping Season”-the time of waiting in store lines for the coming bargains.

Plus,  Advent has become the Holiday parties, movies, and social events that are cranking up.  It’s the time our offices and other tribes are breaking out the grub and grog for us to make merry; and the cheap “Secret Santa” gifts.  Hollywood is cranking out the latest “blockbuster” on the big screen; or some gooey “feel good” TV special.  Plus, many of us will fall in love (or lust) during the Holidays thanks to mistletoe, mixed drinks, and the movement of hormones.

However, is there an Advent for the rest of us?  Is there an Advent for those who aren’t going from mall to mall and website to website shopping?  Is there an Advent for those mentioned in tonight’s Scripture?  There are many who are poor among us, who cannot afford the advertised “toys” to shop for.  Many are lonely and have no one to make merry with.  There are the brokenhearted-for whatever reason-who finds this time of the year a burden.  What about those captive: in physical, mental or spiritual prisons?  What about those who mourn with an empty chair at the Holiday table?  What about those who have been the victims or (real) injustices?  Is there an Advent for the us who are still waiting for the Christ to come into their lives?

Tonight’s Scripture was Isaiah’s announcement of the “Year of the Lord’s Favor” to those who are marginalized this Season.  Jesus read from this passage centuries later at the start of his ministry (ref. Luke 4:16-19)-one who was marginalized himself.  God is showing Divine favor on the poor, the lonely, the brokenhearted, the captive, the prisoner, the mourning, those seeking Divine justice in their lives.  This isn’t the “favor” you hear Evangelicals boast about-no, this is God’s assurance that He/She has remembered those left out by society.  That God will see about those in tonight’s Scripture who has suffered enough through the ministry of the Coming Christ.

For the rest of us, let us remember that Advent is for us-those waiting for the Coming Christ into our lives.  Let’s take comfort in knowing that Advent wasn’t hijacked by the carnal commercial craze that’s the current shopping season.  We can have the assurance of God’s Favor. and that He/She will see about us right here and now.

There is an Advent for the rest of us.

Prayer:  Father/Mother God, as we try to navigate through man’s celebration of instant gratification and greed, help us to remember the Coming of Your Christ into our world.  How Jesus the Christ preached to the marginalized of his day; those who suffered as we do today.  Help us to watch for the Coming of Christ into our lives right here and now so that we will have the joy and peace only You can give.  In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Peace.

(Image by Me:  “Waiting.” New York City)

 

 

Posted in Christianity, life, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncertainty at Advent

roll1_a000122-r1-16-16

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2 (English Standard Version)

Good Evening Friends.  I hope those in my corner of the planet had a blessed and enjoyable Thanksgiving.  As many in the Church knows, today is the First Sunday in Advent.  Advent commemorates the waiting for the coming Christ-the Savior of the World.

This Advent Season is one of uncertainty.  Just scan the events of the past month, and you will see there is uncertainty: here in America and abroad.  In Isaiah, we also read uncertainty-in this case, ancient Israel.  Israel itself was in a time of uncertainty-about its relationship with God, since He/She was tired of the former’s wickedness.  Judgment was to come upon Israel for its mess. However, God reminded Israel-through the prophet Isaiah-that despite their present darkness, light has shone on them.  The light is Israel’s coming messiah; since if you go down to verse 6 of this chapter in Isaiah, you see “For to us a child is born” passage read during this Season.

For those of us in the Boardinghouse of Faith, we attribute the above passages to Jesus’s first coming into the world.  If we look at Jesus’ birth narratives we see Israel (now Judea) under Roman rule and the Jews uncertain about their lives under Rome.  For us, Jesus is the light-God’s light-that shines in the darkness of uncertainty.  And trust me my friends, these are uncertain times.  We still have that light in our dark world today-even with the recent ugliness in America, fighting in Syria, and economic instability-we still have the light of God-the Christ.

If we open up our hearts this Advent season, the Christ will still come and shine on us.  Then we will have that certainty, that hope we need to live today and not just exist.

Uncertainty at Advent? Yes.  However, we don’t have to live under the darkness of uncertainty thanks to Jesus-the light of God.

Peace.

(Image: On 33rd Street in NYC. Taken by Me)

Posted in Christianity, world, thoughts, life, news, society | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

To Those Who Lost

https://i0.wp.com/media3.s-nbcnews.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Video/201611/tdy_miguel_protests_161110__752493.today-vid-canonical-featured-desktop.jpg

“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man (or woman), and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go
1Kings 2:2‭-‬3 (New International Version-addition mine)

Last night I addressed the Fundigelical crowd and their endorsement of Donald Trump. I took them to task how thru have betrayed the Gospel with their following him.  Tonight I’m going over to the other team’s locker room. To address toast who wonder about the future. What I am going to say may sound harsh, however times are crucial.

First, dry your eyes. You had your crying jag since early Wednesday morning.  No time for whining over what happened.  Whining and crying only makes you a bunch of babies that no one will take serious.

Second, stop blaming the Third Party or those who wrote-in their votes for your loss; makes you sound like immature sore losers.  In fact, your shame-blame game makes the Trump side look the better of the two.  What you need to realize is this is America and people vote who they feel resonates with them the best.  For a growing number, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein fit that bill.  And this is addressed to those voters as well, not just the Liberal crowd.

Third-the hardest-introspection, or what went wrong.  Sorry folks, Hilary Clinton was not a good candidate.  Clinton had a lot of water under her bridge to start.  Also, her candidacy alienated the still powerful working-class vote (especially among Whites) for the educated vote (read feminist, urban, educated); that’s how she lost Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Also, people got tired of the Liberal’s political correctness being shoved down their throats; they fired back by voting politically incorrect Trump into office.  No clear platform and disengagement from the people she needed the most killed her.

Fourth, don’t be afraid.  Tonight’s Scripture calls for us to be men and women, not whiny kids.  I see where at one college where students upset by Trump’s victory were given a “safe space” where they could play with Play-Doh and other juvenile activities.  You cannot afford to hide out in “safe spaces” where you can have second childhoods on campus.  You need real safe spaces in our churches, synagogues, mosques, community centers, and places where we can get help and have dialogue…

Which also tells us to be brave.  Instead of juvenile safe spaces, you need “strategy spaces” where you can mobilize and plan how to deal with the surge of racist, sexist and xenophobic acts in recent days.  God is calling you to follow Him/Her by standing up to this crap.  Cowering in fear will make you babies that can’t handle shit and will destroy you.  You have to speak truth to power; love to hate; diversity to racism; peace to xenophobia; and equality to sexism.  You need to channel the spirits of the Civil Rights and antiwar soldiers of old.

And last-yet important, start crafting a candidate for 2020.  Stop this electing “celebrity” politicians who really don’t have your interest at heart.  Yes, you may have to jettison the Democratic Party and create a Third “People’s” Party from the grassroots.  From that grassroots movement, you can call out a potential candidate(s) from among you and channel your money into it.  In time, you’ll have a candidate who can truly engage you and know what the issues are.

Please, I’m not sitting at my desk and randomly firing off posts willy-nilly,  Yes, I have my concerns; I am a Black man in America.  I too wonder about how this will affect my community and my family.  However, cowering in safe spaces watching Kipper the Dog and watching kitten videos won’t help.  I too have to join up with others, be they Liberals, Democrats, Libertarians or Greens-it doesn’t matter.  We’re facing a resurgence of what makes America ugly and must stop it.

Yes, what’s happening sucks to High Heaven.  We now wonder what’s next.  However, it’s high time for us to be the people God call us to be and stand up to it all.  That’s the only way we’ll win; or at least keep Trump and his nasties on the run.

To those who lost, you (and I) have work to do.  No time for crying, hiding in “safe spaces” like scared ostriches, blaming, or being afraid.  We must be what God calls us to be and work for peace, justice and love.  Now is the time.

Peace.

(Image: TODAY.com)

Posted in news, politics, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Fundagelicals…*

*”Fundagelical” – “Fundamentalist Evangelical”: Right-Wing X-Tians (Christians) who say they follow Christ, yet subscribe to a worldview that is opposite to what He taught.  Many Fundagelicals are White; however there are many non-White variants.

Dear Fundagelicals:

I hope this post finds you well.  Obviously, your in a very good mood since your “prayers” were answered with the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States.  Many of you are looking to Trump as the answer to bringing America “back to God.”  Today, I read about how Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX says that we who did not vote for him, “should not be afraid, or discouraged of what’s to come”.

I hear many of your pastors-men who are supposed to represent God-stand behind Trump, despite his character.  Besides Jeffress, men like: Ralph Reed, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, and Tony Perkins.  And before you call me on the church carpet for racism, there are also Black X-Tians among you like Pastor James Davis of Ohio, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit, and God knows who else among you.  Many prosperity mega-preachers have also supported Trump.

The real reason for your support for Trump is because many of you are just like him: racist, sexist, and every other ill under the sun.  I remember how many of in the White section attacked President Obama and his family due to his color.  This is despite the fact Obama and his family carried themselves with class and dignity-something that you people will never do.  Plus, you don’t want a woman following behind in Hilary Clinton.  And God knows, you didn’t even give Gary Johnson and Jill Stein a chance.  No, you wanted a candidate like yourselves, you hypocrites!

Now you have Trump as your president.  You have sold out the Gospel and despised the Cross of Christ.  Instead of being the Bride of Christ, you’re now the Whore of Babylon joined to an antichrist.  In fact, you’ll end up being Trump’s bitches. You are the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).  Heed the words of John:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Revelation 18:4-8 (King James Version)

Trump is going to stab you in the back-like it or not.  He doesn’t give a rip about your “Jesus” or your platforms.  God will let him crap all over you and make fools of you.  God will turn you from leaders into laughingstocks for your ignoring the Gospel.  You’ll find that your “enemies”-Atheists, Pagans, Wiccans, non-Christians-will be more righteous in the eyes of men than you will.  You are sowing the wind endorsing Trump, and God will let you reap the whirlwind.  You will lead your X-tian followers into perdition while your enemies will laugh at you.  And God will let it all happen.

You criticize GLTBQs, feminists, womanists, environmentalists, Universalists, Atheists, Agnostics, Wiccans, Pagans, Jews, Muslims, and others.  However, you act as if you’re without reproach.   I’m giving you a taste of your own medicine with my indictments.  I cannot sit by and just say nothing as a follower of Christ.  You may see this post and poo-pooh it.  You may fire a nasty comment at me.  Go ahead, I’m not afraid.  If it takes me to stand on the wall and share what God has laid on my heart, so be it.

As Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, you are children of the devil (John 8:44).  You follow him/her in all the evil you do wrapped up in churchy trappings.  You murder the hearts and souls of millions, and lie saying that it’s from Scripture.  I hope that while there is still time, you will come to the realization of your sins and repent.  It would be tragic as Jeffress’ book says, Hell Yes becomes your future-here and beyond.

May God have mercy on you.

(Image: Donald J. Trump with Gov. Mike Pence at his victory speech on Tuesday night. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Posted in Christianity, church, heretics/heretical thinking, politics, religion, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waking Up Is Dangerous To Do

munkee_0202104551This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14 (New International Version)

Waking up is dangerous.  I’m not talking about waking up from a physical nap or overnight sleep-no.  Waking up from years of nonsense and lies is dangerous.  Why?  Because when you wake up you see through the bullshit you’ve been lulled into believing-more likely from childhood up to this hour.  You’re no longer gullible to what “they” tell you to believe.

I had my awakening this past week thanks to a rather innocuous event.  As you know, I am a photographer.  This past week was the annual Newark Arts Council’s “Open Doors 2016” arts festival.  I enjoyed an opening reception, gallery openings and exhibitions, being among fellow artists, and exhibiting my photography at three venues!  Plus, I attended Photo Plus 2016 in Manhattan in the meantime.

What made the above event the catalyst in my awakening was that I was among fellow artists and arts-related professionals.  I had the chance to truly be in my own milieu feeling a spiritual as well as creative connection.  I started to feel like I would rather take pictures all day.  I got to see that being a photographer is where I belong-especially having all that exposure and networking.  I’ll take photos quicker than eat when I’m hungry and/or make love when I’m in the mood.  In fact, my Godmother said I was awakening; that when I create I’m in the Spirit.  And you know when you’re truly in the Spirit you tend to wake up.

Waking up is dangerous to do for it makes you see things as they really are.  Plus, waking up makes you address some very tough questions that you’ve avoided asking.  When you wake up, you’ll find the things that used to impress you don’t anymore (I’ve got a list). I know that down the road I will offend and scare the sleeping-may even piss ’em off.  However, I must live from my heart and (per Howard Thurman) do what makes me come alive (and not just photography).  Even now I feel a change in me that I can’t explain, but just let it take place fully.  In the past I spoke of my Core Values and living by them; which are now starting to seep through the cracks of my former facade.

In tonight’s Scripture text, Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church called them to wakefulness. He couched that verse reminding the Ephesians that everything will be exposed in the light; and that they’re to be careful to live wisely.  Wakefulness in the Bible meant one was aware spiritually; that he or she is ready and alert.  Paul also promised the Ephesians that once they’ve awakened, Christ-the Wisdom of God-will shine on them.  That God will illumine them.  Not a shabby deal I must say!

Waking us is dangerous to do for I don’t know what I will be like once I’m fully awakened.  And as I attempted to allude above, waking up can have a domino effect in other areas of my life.  However, to me it’s more dangerous to stay asleep and let others think and do for you.  Besides, I’d rather be awake and illumined to live for real than to be asleep in the dark.

Peace.

(Above image by Me)

 

 

Posted in creativity, life, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chick Checked Out

Image result for jack chick

and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Timothy 4:4 (New King James Version)

Anyone who’s been in Fundagelical X-tianity for a minute would have-at one time or another-stumbled over one of Jack Chick’s graphic tracts or comic books. With titles like This Was Your Life, Big Daddy, Lisa, and Somebody Goofed; “Chick Tracts” were interesting to say the least.

I just found out today that Chick checked out. Ol’ Jack now has the opportunity to see what the afterlife is really like.

Chick’s tracts have attacked everything possible: Catholics; GLTBQs; feminists; Satanists; Pagans; Wiccans; Evolutionists; Freemasons; and everyone else in between-including dogcatchers for all we know.  Chick also attacked Halloween, rock music, Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons as well.  He also had quite a few on the End Times as well.  And to keep diversity alive, Chick even had tracts geared to Blacks; and printed in other languages.  If there was someone or something to attack, Jack Chick cranked out a tract.   God knows I’ve read a many during my Christian road trip.

Howsoever, as I continued my Christian road trip I found such “illuminating” stuff rather gaudy and pretty much cut from the same cloth and following a standard plot line.  To me, Chick Tracts were full of sensationalism that were lurid at times; other tracts were stereotypical as well. The man was a master at what he did and created an empire thanks to willing and eager readers.

Sad to say, tonight’s Scripture applies to those Chick Tracts.  Instead of being solid Gospel meat, they were junk food to say the least.   Chick-probably thinking he was doing the right thing-created carefully crafted fables that didn’t jibe fully with sound Biblical doctrine.  These tracts could easily turn people from sound doctrine; their sensationalism blinding people from solid inquiry into the Scriptures.

Chick’s tracts were for their time-back in the 1970s and 80s; and geared for a different crowd who digested such stuff.  Heaven knows both Catholic and Evangelical criticized Chick’s work.  As we enter a New Reformation (yes I believe it still happening), Chick’s works will be an anachronism to Christianity.  Ultimately, they’ll be a curiosity in Church history.

God gives the final analysis-despite my words-regarding Chick.   Right now, Chick is face-to-face with God and getting the surprise of his (after) life.  Maybe Chick is in Glory seeing the very people he attacked in his tracts.  Or as one spoof put it, Chick may be reincarnated as a homeless lesbian.

For those of us in the boardinghouse-hold of Faith, we need to be wary of such media as we reach out to others.  Sensationalism, attacks, and stereotyping are not what the Gospel is about.  Save those for the potboilers.

Chick checked out.  May his tracts do likewise.

Peace.

(Image above of Chick’s famous tract, This Was Your Life [copyrighted])

Posted in Christianity, culture, media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment