Of Those Who Gave

Buffalo Soldiers Monument, Fort Leavenworth, KS (Image taken April 2011 by Me)

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45 (NKJV)

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States, a time where we pause and reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat: from the Revolutionary War up to the current Afghan Conflict.

Over the past weekend, many commemorative activities took place all over the nation.  We had the President laying a commemorative wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Fleet Week in New York City, parades, other wreath layings, patriotic social media posts, etc.  It’s also the day of barbeques, beach openings, sales, and a day off for many.

It’s also the day we see the familiar slogan: “All gave some, some gave all” that tells us of the above sacrifices.  However, I like to change it a bit to read, “All gave some, some gave all, yet One gave His all.”

You see, we need to remember that Jesus gave his all for humanity.  The very sins that drove our wars Jesus on the cross: hate; imperialism; racism; genocide; and greed.  In fact, it was Roman soldiers that nailed Jesus to the cross.  Jesus gave his all while on Earth: he fed the masses, he healed the sick, he loved and reached out to the marginalized-he gave his all.  He preached love, peace and the Kingdom/Queendon of God under the eyes of Roman oppression.  In the end, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.

While we go about remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for Americans; let’s remember the One who made THE ultimate sacrifice for humankind.  For one day, our statues and cemeteries will return to the dust they came from; and our military anecdotes of bravery and sacrifice will be lost to history.  However, only what Jesus did will last throughout the ages.

Peace!

(Note: Image of the Buffalo Soldiers Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  I took this on April 15, 2011.)

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#ALL Lives Matter

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools  Martin Luther King, Jr

#Black Lives Matter #Charlie Hebdo Cartoonists Lives Matter #Nigerian Lives Matter #White Lives Matter #Muslim Lives Matter #Christian Lives Matter #Jewish Lives Matter #GLBTQ Lives Matter #Young Lives Matter #Old Lives Matter #Poor Lives Matter #Latin Lives Matter #Asian Lives Matter #Female Lives Matter #Male Lives Matter #Alcoholic/Addict Lives Matter #Indigenous Lives Matter #Non-Abrahamic Religionists Lives Matter #Atheist/Agnostic/Freethinking/Humanist/Skeptical Lives Matter #Pagan/Wiccan/Satanist Lives Matter #Artistic Lives Matter #Scientific Lives Matter #Corporate Lives Matter #Alternative Sexual Practitioners Lives Matter #Pro-Choice Lives Matter #Pro-Life Lives Matter #Vegan Lives Matter #Carnivore Lives Matter #Democratic/Republican/Libertarian/Independent/Tea Party Lives Matter #Rich Lives Matter #Celebrity Lives Matter #Obscure Lives Matter #Fundamentalist/”Fundagelical” Lives Matter #Heterosexual/Monogamous Lives Matter #Criminal Lives Matter #Terrorist/(Fill in the blank) Supremacist Lives Matter #Animal and Plant Lives Matter

All this to say…#ALL LIVES MATTER!

Thank you, Dr. King for reminding us of that.  See you when we get there!

Peace!

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Are You the One?

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples  and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:2-6 (English Standard Version)

Now that the Christmas season is a wrap with Three Kings Day tomorrow, it’s time for us to get to the nitty-gritty.  Jesus the Christ was born, had his childhood, and has grown up into an adult when he commenced his ministry.  It’s during Jesus’ ministry we find tonight’s text above.

In tonight’s text, we find John the Baptist in prison. If you recall, John was Jesus’ second cousin and ministerial forerunner that baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.  However, as Jesus was doing his ministry, John the Baptist was arrested by Herod the for criticizing Herod’s taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own.  It was during his imprisonment John heard reports about the works Jesus was doing and began to wonder if Jesus was in fact God’s Christ; or if there was to be another.  On the other hand, Jesus sent a very interesting reply: healing the sick, raising the dead, and the poor getting the good news.

There are many in the world today who look upon those who follow the Christ in a similar vein.  With all that’s happening in our age, people look at us in the Boardinghouse of Faith and ask are we the ones that will bring change into the world?  Or should the world look for others?  I ask this question tonight because lots of times I’ve seen people who call themselves followers of the Christ very silent at times.  I seen Black megachurch preachers such as T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar noticeably silent regarding the recent police brutality events in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY.  How many Christians for years kept out of the climate change discourse, and have said nothing about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And this is not recent: this has happened time and again with antisemitism, slavery, Civil Rights, women’s rights, GLTBQ rights, our Middle East policies, and nuclear weapons.  Save for the brave souls like the Quakers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and a minority of others; the Church has been quiet.

Are we going to finally get down to the nitty-gritty and start healing the sick: sick souls, sick minds, sick politics, and a sick environment? Are we finally going to raise the dead: dead dreams, dead voices crying for justice, emotionally and spiritually dead?  And what about preaching the good news to the poor: not just the economically poor; but the poor in spirit, the poor in hope, the poor in power?  Will the world look at us in the Church and say that we are the ones to come?

Or will the world have to look for another?  Sad to say, sometimes the world had to look for another because we weren’t there for the world.  We don’t have the luxury of being passed as the world looks for another to address its issues.  If we keep staying on the sidelines; not addressing our world’s needs, we may soon find ourselves on the wrong side of history.  One day, the Church itself may find itself irrelevant and an anachronism.  And unlike Jesus above, we’ll have nothing to show.

Tonight’s question: “Are you the one?”  Yes, are we the one?  We better answer “yes” and get to work.  We cannot afford to answer otherwise.

Peace.

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No Fear

into the forebodingI must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert, Dune

 Only be strong and very courageous…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:7a & 9 (English Standard Version)

2015: The Year of Transitions.

God prepared me for this year, a year where massive transitions will take place in my life; and in the lives of other, like-minded spirits.

This is the year where relationships-even old ones-that no longer serve our higher good will come to an end.  This is the year we may be saying goodbye to long-held jobs where we’ve become so comfortable we forgot about the gifts God put in us to use here on Earth.  We may be leaving the familiar in order to venture into uncharted territory.  Even our church lives may see an upheaval as our spiritual lives grow to the place where they no longer can be contained.

However there is one thing that will come upon us early in this journey: fear.  Yes, fear.  When a person goes through a transitional season in their life, fear rears its ugly head.  Fear of the unknown, fear of the opinions of others, fear of some perceived “loss,” the list can go on and on.  If we read the texts from Dune and Joshua, we see that fear can kill the mind; and we’re told not to have fear.  Although two different texts, they relate to each other quite well.  Fear can destroy-it can destroy dreams, initiative and eventually the one who’s afraid. In fact, fear rears its ugly head right about now, at the beginning of the journey; not just during the journey.  And there will those who will try to discourage us from the onset-and they could be well meaning too-because we’re taking on something they might be afraid of themselves.

We have to face the fears that we’ll encounter, and face them head on.  In times of transition and upward growth, fear is something we cannot afford.  Joshua saw first hand what fear did to the Israelites years before the time of the above passage; how it delayed their entrance into the promised land almost 40 years.  Now Joshua’s returned to the frontier of the Promised Land, after the generation of the fearful had died off.  Now, God’s telling Joshua to go into that land fearlessly without any discouragement, confident in God’s presence.

The quote from Dune is a litany recited by the Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood known for it’s psychic and mental prowess-especially in the face of adversity. This prowess made the Bene Gesserit a force to be reckoned with in the galaxy.  As one who’s read most of the Dune novels, I could tell you that fear was one thing the Bene Gesserit could never afford in their day.  In fact, they learned to face that fear and let it wash over and through them; in the meantime turning inward to watch it.  Knowing full well once the fear’s passed, only they remain.

We must be strong and very courageous, turning inward to the Christ within to face our fear and walk right through it-knowing that we will survive it and come out strong.  This is the ONLY way we can get to our “Promised Land” that God has for us; the transition God prepared us for.  I may be long in this post, however please hear me out since I’m speaking to myself as well.  We must have NO fear.  We must be strong and very courageous without a hint of discouragement.  We must trust in God’s presence and face fear head on.  Then we will have come through, and reach our promised land.  Plus, in the process, we never know who we might encourage along the way to make their journey!

This is the year of transition.  How we handle fear will determine if we will make it or not.

Have no fear, trust God, and be a force to be reckoned with.

Peace.

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Turn The Page

20141230_225139

Happy New Year and Welcome 2015!

It seemed like the proverbial yesterday when I said those same words last January 1.  So much has happened over the past 365 days-both good and not so good.  We had our hellos and goodbyes. We had our ups and downs.  It was quite the year, 2014.

However, it’s time to turn the page.  We filled the last page-2014-with plenty of stuff.  Now we stare at a new page, 2015.  A blank page waiting to be filled stares back at us.  What will we fill it with in 2015?  What words and images will be our contributions to this New Year-individually and collectively?  Those are questions only we can answer; and have a whole year to answer them.

I pray that we will fill 2015 with beautiful and thought-provoking images.  That we will pen words that will encourage, convict, challenge, and speak truth.  That we’ll have meaning in 2015 in what we put down.  For once we put these words and images down, we cannot erase them or edit them; they’re there forever.

The image above is my journal, where I jot down my thoughts, experiences, dreams, ideas, etc. You can see the blank pages waiting for my input.  This New Year is our collective “journal” from January 1 to December 31, 2015.

It’s 2015.  Time to turn the page.

Peace.

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Leaving It All Behind

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In just over two days it will 2015.  It will be a new year; fresh possibilities; lots of potential.

However, before we get out the bubbly and the party hats, we need to do some housecleaning.  You see, many of us have a lot of junk from 2014 (and probably earlier) that’s holding us back and down.  We have old issues, hurts, regrets, fears, grudges…the list could be quite extensive.  God knows I have some shit from this past year.

However, as we wind down 2014, we need to take a moment and inventory ourselves to see what is still in us.  Is it old fears that kept you from moving forward in whatever area(s) of your life?  Are you still harboring a grudge?  Are you sorry about something and can’t forgive yourself?  Were you hurt-especially by someone you loved and/or trusted and haven’t gotten through the pain?  I understand: been there, done that.  It’s quite easy to hold to this stuff since it can give us a (false) sense of comfort.

However, can we fully make the New Year “new” if we keep dragging in old shit from back in the day?  How many of us are weighed down, held back, and have anxieties of what 2015 will bring?  Some of us right now reading this are thinking that there’s nothing to look forward to; and can fall into the dangerous trap of looking back with some sick nostalgia.  However, looking back ain’t gonna work either.  I believe when you constantly look back without looking ahead, you die slowly on the inside since the past is dead.  Then soon, you just may die altogether since all you see is dead and the Universe gives dead things back to you.

What we must do is leave it all behind: the hurts, pains, regrets, grudges, etc.  God has given us the power to overcome if we truly believe and look inside ourselves.  As Jesus reminded us from John 16:33:

But take heart; I have overcome the world.

The Christ that’s in us-the Divine power that was in Jesus-gives us that power to overcome anything. Many Esoteric teachings and New Thought usually say that the “I” in the above sentence means you and me, as well as Jesus; since Jesus told us that the Realm of God is in us.  We need to tap into that power and look at these issues squarely and ask ourselves are they really serving our higher self.  Will our dragging this crap into 2015 give us a better year?

And such same power will help us to leave it all behind.  To just drop it and let it go.  Pray over it, see this shit for what it is: shit, and let it go.  Life is too precious and we don’t know what 2015 will bring for each and every one of us.  This very well could be someone’s year when it takes off; when things finally come together; when what they’ve waited for finally shows up.  It would be a shame and a half to miss what could be ours this year because of stuff from the year before.

The image above was taken at the old Westinghouse facility in Downtown Newark in 2008.  The old office equipment was left behind when everyone moved out; and before the building was demolished.  As you could see, the items in the image were no longer needed for the move and were left behind.  This is what we must do to make our move into 2015 a smooth one: leave it behind.

During the next couple of days, and into 2015, take the time to do some inventory.  Look at those things you know need to be left behind and do so.  We can start 2015 fresh and new, and wouldn’t that be a blessing!

Peace.

 

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