Good Morning

PHOTO_20160115_181352What do you do when you get tired of all the bullshit in your life?  When you see nothing but absurdity and you’re trying to make sense? When you get tired of folks telling you to “just pray”, or “strengthen your faith”?

You try to believe that God will work it out, however when you see all that around you have doubt. You feel as of you’re all alone in this journey called life; and there’s no one to rescue you.

How do you feel when you want to run away from it all? When you’re tired of being everyone’s hero and when your strength is gone, no one’s there to strengthen you?

How do you feel when you cannot create even though it’s in your mind it just hadn’t reached your heart? When you look at your medium and sigh because the muse took an extended holiday?

How do you feel as if just “one more thing” will push you over the edge? When you get to the place of nearly blowing your stack?

You go to church, yet “couldn’t hear nobody pray” you’re so out of it. Your BFF is no help. Your family is more problem than solution. You’re so in a funk that not even good sex can help (you know that’s bad).

Social media and all the “churchy” posts you’re bombarded with almost turn your evangelical self into an Atheist. All you see is bad news. People cry, “the sky is falling” for the millionth time yet nothing happens. Celebrity news is more valued over common sense. And after a few moments looking at the media, you give up all hope for humanity (drop the bomb and call it a day).

Right now, you’re ready to run off to some lone mountain retreat or deserted tropical island just to get away from it all.

“All is vanity,” Ecclesiastes tells us, and that is true: today, we would say it’s all bullshit.

Sorry kids, but sometimes you don’t give a fuck. And all you can do is the best you can. If others don’t like it, they can go to Hell.

For God knows you feel like you’re there now…

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Day After” or “What is Man/Woman?”

20160124_111826What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  Psalm 8:4 (King James Version)

Today, I-along with millions along the Northeastern US-dug ourselves out of two feet of snow (give or take some inches) thanks to Winter Storm Jonas.  For basically 24 hours-with the worst being yesterday-a blizzard struck the Newark area.  Jonas was so intense that it was seen from the International Space Station.  High winds and blinding snow crippled cities from Virginia up to New York City as streets were buried in snow.  As I write this, social media is abuzz with complaints about city governments poor handling-especially in Newark and NYC.  Virginia is already facing a very expensive snow removal bill.  Thankfully, my town has done a fair job in removing snow so at least I can go down my street.  In fact, the post’s picture was taken outside my front door before my son, Carrington and I ventured outside.

And to think this is only January; with February and March to follow.

Such a storm reminds us how puny we can be next to the sheer power of nature.  It collapsed the flat roof of a local Trader Joe’s I shop at.  It put some parts of New Jersey and New York on travel bans.  It flooded shore communities with icy water (and ice).  For now, my neck of the woods is slowly coming to grips with the magnitude of such a storm while slowly trying to get back on its feet.  And there were thousands who lost power, numbers of which were transferred to shelters for light and heat.

Tonight’s Scripture is from Psalm 8, where the composer tells of God’s greatness expressed through nature and the cosmos.  The psalm also asked the above question about who we are in the scheme of things.  And even though the writer tells how we’re special-just below the angels-I wonder “what is man/woman”?  Who are we compared to the cosmos, to nature?  What power do we have compared to the greater Universe?  Despite our technology, business savvy, and military power, we still cannot stand against a storm like Jonas.  I’ve posed this time and again-especially after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  We are no match-despite what the religions say about us-to the power of nature.  We can only watch helpless as our city streets are at a standstill and our daily way of life is interrupted.

The winter here in the Northeast is still young.  I hope this would be a one-hit wonder regarding winter storms, however that remains to be seen.  All I know is when I see this it makes me wonder who we are compared to nature and the Universe.

For all those who read this that have been impacted by Winter Storm Jonas, I pray that you are safe and warm.  Thank God all is well on my end.

Peace.

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Now More Than Ever

iate image for the occasion.

But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.  Amos 5:24 (King James Version)

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; he would have been 87 had he lived today.  Monday is the official holiday observing Dr. King’s birthday here in the US.  For the weekend, we’ll be inundated with specials, memorials, tributes, and city-wide ecumenical services.  We’ll be reminded that Monday’s a day to “take on” (things to make a difference), rather than another day to take off (which most will do).

If Dr. King were here right now, he would be appalled.  Today, injustices against Blacks hearken back to the days of Jim Crow.  Other people of color fare no better.  America again is fighting a war in Asia-and losing.  And despite having a Black President, Dr. King would have words for him-and not all nice.  Despite all the advancements made-which Dr. King (and others) gave their lives for-we have not progressed that far.

Dr. King’s words for justice and universal brother/sisterhood are needed now more than ever.  The text from Amos was one of Dr. King’s favorites; and it still is needed in today’s America.  We need to stop all the “celebrating” and start to do some listening.  We’ve devolved into a violent lot that’s quick to demonize the “other,” whilst listening to demagogues who want to tear us apart.  We’re quick to bomb instead of open dialogue.  We have a clergy in America that’s quick to be BFFs with The Powers That Be instead of confronting them.  Again, we’re seeing a widening gap between rich and poor.  It’s high time we really listen to Dr. King; and not just play sound bites of him.

However, there are those who are taking up Dr. King’s words.  Grassroots organizations that are effecting changes for people of color, the poor, the environment.  People who are not just hearing Dr. King’s words, but are taking those words to heart and taking action.  Pastors who are taking Dr. King’s mantle to speak truth to power, no matter the cost.  There are those-like Dr. King-who are using the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament prophets-to effect change from the local to the global level.

But it shouldn’t just be a few.  We all should listen to Dr. King’s words while we have the chance to turn things around for the better.  We must take up the cause of Christ as Dr. King did, and now!

So while we’re reminiscing, celebrating, and all that other stuff, let’s listen to the words of our late Brother Martin. For now more than ever we need to hear him.

Peace.

(Image: I took this photo of this mural in Newark back in 2007.  It’s gone now, however I thought it would be fitting for the theme of this post.)

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Happy NEW Year!

Forget the things that happened in the past.
Do not keep on thinking about them.

I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
Isaiah 43:18-19a (New International Reader’s Version)

Tonight, I was at a New Year’s Eve Watchnight service. Early in the service, the saints were sharing their testimonies of God’s goodness over the past year. The Watchnight service is a staple of the Black Church which was started by Black slaves who awaited New Years Day 1863, which was the day the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect-freeing slaves in Confederate States.

However, as we ready ourselves for 2016, tonight’s text caught my eye. God was speaking to Israel during a dark time through the prophet Isaiah.  Israel was under Babylonian domination during this time. However, despite what was happening, God told Israel to forget the things of the past. That God was ready to break out something new; and that for Israel to look out for it.

The text can apply to today as well. There are many of us-me included-who had a lot happen in 2015; some good, some not so good. Believe me that many of us are glad to see 2015 and all its baggage disappear into the past…

However, we need to forget the things of the past-including 2015.  Despite how bad-or how good-things were, it’s time to forget and move on into 2016.   I believe that God can do new things before our very eyes if only we open ourselves up to Him/Her.  This is in fact a New Year full of potential and promise; and God is waiting to do His/Her “new thing” right before our eyes.

Happy NEW Year!  I don’t know if you ushered it in at church like me, at a formal ball, in Times Square, at a get-together, or alone.  Just know that it’s time to forget the old things and see what new things God will do in 2016.

Peace.

 

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See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks Dangerous Christian’s Blog created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

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Okay, Now That You’re Here….What Next?

path Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
“Lord, you are the King over all.

Now let me, your servant, go in peace.
That is what you promised.
My eyes have seen your salvation.
You have prepared it in the sight of all nations.
It is a light to be given to the Gentiles.
It will be the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them. He said to Mary, Jesus’ mother, “This child is going to cause many people in Israel to fall and to rise. God has sent him. But many will speak against him. The thoughts of many hearts will be known. A sword will wound your own soul too.”
Luke 2:28-35 (New International Reader’s Version)

Jesus is here.  Since November 29th to Christmas Eve, we waited for the Christ during Advent.  On Christmas Eve, we returned to that night in Scripture, song and services where we remembered Jesus’s birth in that lonely manger; and the shepherds who saw the Christ and made their report.  On Christmas Day, we feted, feasted and fellowshipped with friends and loved ones as we celebrated the newborn Christ.  We opened our gifts at home yesterday, then spent the rest of the day at our cousin’s over dinner, dessert, and family fun.

Okay, now that Jesus is here…what next?

Today’s Scripture takes us to the temple, where Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth.  The priest, Simeon as he blesses the boy, makes some interesting pronouncements on his future.  Simeon first uses the analogies of “salvation,” “light,” and “glory.”  To me, I see “salvation” as deliverance/liberation from our ego-driven sinfulness and living below our God-given potential.  “Light” is Divine enlightenment for all of humanity; how the light of Christ pierces through our “dark night of the soul” and our spiritual blindness.  “Glory” as that Jesus will stand out from the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament as God pulled out all the stops with him.

So far the pronouncements amazed Mary and Joseph. However, the next pronouncements were ominous.  Jesus will cause many “to fall and to rise,” which to me smacks of Isaiah 40:4:

Everyvalley will be filled in. Every mountain and hill will be made level. The rough ground will be smoothed out. The rocky places will be made flat.

Jesus fulfilled this pronouncement as he lifted up the marginalized of Israel, whilst causing the powerful-especially the religious elites-to “fall” in the eyes of Israel.  Jesus was a Jew who connected with both the common Jew and Gentile.

Also, despite his Divine origins, Jesus was attacked verbally by The Powers That Be in his day; and physically during his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.  He was spoken against over and over again-even by his own disciples. Even after he died, Jesus’s credibility was still attacked.

He also could tell what many thought about.  We saw this over and over again when the Pharisees and other religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up with their twisted “theology”; and Jesus put the spiritual smackdown on them.  God was so in Jesus, that the Divine-through the Holy Spirit-empowered Jesus to literally read those morons’ minds (or lack thereof).

Eventually this would be a “sword” to “wound” Mary’s own soul.  God only knows the pains she felt over the years as she and Joseph would have to leave home for Egypt to avoid Herod’s hunt for Jesus (Matthew 2:13-18).  Mary felt it during the three years Jesus ministered to his people and the attacks he bore on his (and her) characters.  Then Mary ultimately felt the wound-as deep as a wound can go-when she watched her son die on a cross; an innocent man dying the worst way a Jew can die.

Now that Jesus is here, we see what’s next.  Despite what’s next, it’s still going to be good.

Peace.

(Image: Path at Great Swamp.  Taken by Me).

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O Holy Night?

CRW_0001Scripture reference: Luke 2:1-20

It’s Christmas Eve 2015.  Tonight, many of us are heading off to Christmas Eve services and masses; St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC has their Midnight Mass.  Others are going to Christmas Eve celebrations and dinners, as some celebrate the night.  There are those doing last-minute gift wrapping, decorating, cooking, and yes-even shopping.

Tonight, we read about Mary and Joseph in a  dirty manger welcoming their son, Jesus into the world.  Tonight, God’s Christ-the light to pierce through the night of our souls-was witnessed by barnyard animals; which was an ceremonially unclean environment for a Jew.  This lonely couple was the only ones to witness Jesus coming into the world; there were no family or friends to celebrate the birth.  No women to tend to Mary as she delivered her son.  No men to pat Joseph on the back and congratulate him on having a son to carry on his name.

Then later that night, shepherds from the nearby countryside-on news from angels-came to check out Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  A bunch of roughnecked men (and probably women) who worked and slept among smelly sheep (and were smelly themselves) were the first outsiders to come to the manger.  These people were also considered ceremonially “unclean” per the Law; and were usually poor.  Then these same people went out that night to tell others, which was done by foot.  There was no Facebook, Twitter, or other social media back then.  No one videotaped the delivery, or Jesus’s first moments and posted them on YouTube.

All the above took place at night. Night in Jesus’ day was not like night is in our day.  Jewish and Roman society was not the 24-7 society of today, where people would hang out at restaurants, bars or shows.  Towns and villages back then shut down at sundown, or shortly thereafter; and the streets were usually deserted.  The only folks who were out at night were prostitutes, criminals, the shepherds, fishermen…usually the lower echelons of society.  Night was a dangerous time for a family to be alone-even in a manger.  In fact, night will factor greatly in the life and ministry of Jesus.  Plus, in a metaphorical sense, “night” in Scripture meant spiritual darkness, and was a time of danger.

Begging the title question: was that night a holy night with all that went on?  Yes it was.  You see, it wasn’t just holy because Jesus was born; it was holy because that night everyone and everything was made holy.  The lonely parents felt the presence of God as their brokenness was made whole.  The unclean was made clean.  The shepherds were transformed from unclean outcasts into cleansed messengers of the Divine.  That which was marginalized was now integrated into the Kingdom/Queendom of God.  It was indeed a Holy Night.

And it didn’t stop on that ancient night.  Tonight is also a Holy Night.  The light of Christ is still making everyone and everything holy.  Yes, I dare to say that our world and our species are holy; it’s just that we never took the time to realize this.  The Divine Light of Jesus-God’s Christ-is still shining on us and our world: making holy, making whole; and making healed.  And this light will keep shining until the end of time.

So maybe tonight you’re at church wondering if the hymns and Christmas messages apply to your-yes they do; for you are holy.  You might be at a celebration-either at a home or at a club-wondering if you can still be holy after having one too many; yes you can since you are holy.  You’re at work feeling depressed wondering if your broken heart can be made whole; yes it can because it’s a holy heart.  In fact, you may be lying in bed in a one-night-stand so you won’t feel lonely tonight; and will leave during the night so you can get home before dawn wondering if you can still be cleansed; yes you can because you’re still holy.

O Holy Night? Oh yes it is!  And like the song concludes: “O Night Divine.”

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Humanity.

(Post image: “At Night.” Taken by Me)

 

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