Exploring: The Church, Theology and Food

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LOVE IS LOVE!

Earlier this week a Facebook acquaintance posted “I don’t know where you stand on this but marriage is between one man and one woman … as it was in Genesis 2 and 3.”  He followed up by saying …when I saw you were into Womanist Theology and Episcopal, I was not surprised.  What seminary did you attend?”  Like my seminary education had anything to do with the respect of human dignity. I went to Episcopal Divinity School for both my MDiv and my DMin.  My parents taught me to respect human dignity.

My response was, I support same-sex marriage because I respect the dignity and happiness of every person.  No exceptions ever.  Now the SCOTUS has spoken legalizing gay marriage nationwide.  That means even the state of my birth Michigan, must legalize same-sex marriage.

I connect through Facebook with a variety of people for whom I differ in opinion.  It is good to read post from others as long as they are not hateful or hate-filled.  I am well aware as an African-American woman who grew up in Detroit the wide variety of differences and opinions there are regarding same-sex marriage.  I am centered in the teaching that all Americans deserve justice.   I know what it is to feel apart from not a part of.  I know what it is to not get the job due to my color.  I know what it is to be called the “N’ word in my office of a parish that I was serving in.  Yes, right here in the liberal state of Massachusetts. But at the heart of it love is love.  No more hiding, no more not being let into hospital rooms because you are not “family”, no more explaining, NO MORE!

The closing paragraph from Justice Kennedy sums it all “…They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.  The Constitution grants them that right…. It is so ordered.

Today’s ruling affirms that love is equal, love has dignity, love has respect.  Love is love!

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Jesus Wept

These past two weeks have called us to wrestle within our souls some searing and pressing social issues.  How do you shoot at the back of an unarmed man eight times and then plant evidence, and act as if it was alright.  Are will still a good Christian if we believe in the death penalty of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, or do we believe that life in prison will be a far greater cruelty?  We felt deeply on the two-year anniversary of the Marathon Bombing knowing that our lives in the Greater Boston area will never be the same. We wept with the mother of Oden Lloyd as her son’s killer was given life in prison, a life cut short to soon and a God-given talent squandered in the belief that the streets would love you back.

True religion, true Christianity, is not and should not be about becoming a blind follower or a coerced believer.  Some of the most faithful people I know, live out the Gospel in their lives with faithful worship, love for their neighbor, concern for the needy in their midst, and a deep commitment to justice and the dignity of every human being, but they also wrestle as I do with religious or theological doubts and spiritual uncertainties during some, most or all of their lives.

Boston Race Reflections

After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the Rev. Eugene Rivers, (Boston’s version of Al Sharpton, my opinion), was interviewed on a local news station.  He spoke about Boston’s race relations and that Ferguson could not happen here.  I have lived in the Boston area since 1999, when I moved here to attend and obtain my MDiv at Episcopal Divinity School.  

I admit I moved to the area with some preconceived notions of the area and its history of racial tensions and racial relations.  Rev Rivers statement prompted me to look at where racial issues play a part in my life and how my perceptions have or have not changed since 1999.

During the month of September I am taking time to prayerfully reflect on where racism, classism and sexism presents itself in my day to day life.  This is a prayerful journey not meant to shame, blame or attack any institution or person.  It is one ordained African-American woman’s womanist journey.

I invite you to share your prayers, thoughts and experiences with me during this time.  Conversations on race are ongoing as we walk with the One who created us all. #race #boston 

Spiritual Direction: A Place at the Table?

This past weekend I was on a wonderful Advent retreat. It is exactly what I needed this time of year. Fresh snow had fallen, the women I journey with and retreat director were wonderful.

The last day I took a peek into the retreat carriage house where one of the towns Christmas annual Christmas tour was held. Some of the women had taken a peak the night before and remarked on its beauty. The rooms were beautifully decorated poinsettia, trees, nutcrackers of all sizes, family photographs and a large assortment of crèches. I soon realized that every Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus were white, along with all the assorted family photos. It has taken me a while in my spiritual path to recognize my version of the Holy Family. It is certainly not Mary, meek and mild and blond hair blue-eyed Jesus. My Mary questioned what her role was.  My Joseph questioned his relationship with Mary. My baby Jesus was born in less than comfortable surroundings, and yet this was all softened in this beautiful Christmas backdrop, presented to make us coo instead of reacting with a “wow this is deep, there is something profound happening here, to make me sit up take notice, take stock of my relationship with God”

I am feeling this in connecting to some spiritual communities in the my sphere of resources.. I feel that there is no place for those women whose spirituality is rooted in the urban. Those of us can find spiritual solace on the streets of New York, Boston, Detroit or the country.

The spirituality in these communities and retreats are presented with a touchy, feel good, CD playing, bell chiming, speak softly to the Spirit quality. I have a relationship with my God, as Dolly Parton so eloquently said “we both see other people”.  Being in relationship means experiencing an entire range of emotions, with my God and with other people, all people.

Both women of color and women without solid financial security are rarely invited to the spiritual direction model table, we are rarely included in retreat catalogues as presenters. If we are it is for a Women of Color Weekend at a center where the costs spiraled upwards of $2,500.

I have noticed that there are very few spiritual director of color in my area of Boston. Obtaining spiritual direction training involves attending classes held during the day and cost for many women is out of reach, perfect for those who have financially secure resources.

It is as if a price tag and a visual expectation on who is called to be a spiritual director or a retreat leader is already determined. The sign reads “You are welcome to join us, if you think like us, have resources like we do, can take the time to fly here and there for programs. Women who do not meet this model should not apply and invitations shall not be extended.”.Women of color are on the outside, we are the other. In scripture we are always reminded who Jesus’ companions were. Not the Temple priest who sat in their fine robes, but those who were on the outside, the poor, the lame, the everyday person just trying to get by.

 

Stopped & Shop

I created this blog to share the relationship between food and our spiritual journey.  Today I need to vear from that path the recount an incident from yesterday.  After leaving a hair appointment in Pembroke, MA.  Yes, a sister will go to the ends of the earth for a good hairdresser.  I used some extra time I had to stop by the local Stop and Shop.  Without my list in hand, I tried to recreate my shopping list.  I like using the hand held device that allows me to keep a tap on the amount of money I am spending.  Besides occasionally some wonderful deals just pop up on the screen.

Then I get to the check out line scan the checkout bar and scan my Stop and Shop card.  Before I could blink a women ran up to me stated she had to do a random audit then jumped in front of my cart life i was stealing and she was blocking my way.  I inquired why as the only person of any color in the store was i chosen for a random audit.  She hesitated, then mumbled.  

With recent emphasis placed on the profiling of people of color I could not help but wonder.  If the POTUS can make a statement about being profilled, and post Treyvon we rush into statements of a post-racial society and yet another conversation on race.  Just as a reminder the last opportunity post Skip Gates did not provide any forums of consequence.  We do not live in a post-racial society, every person of color at anytime in their life is a candidate for racial profilling.  Something as necessary as food shopping has turned into place where regardless if we are dressed in Dior or denim, we will continue to be profiled.  As if we have no right to be in a place and must be able to provide an explanation an excuse, a reason for our pressence in a particular place.

I am priviledged to be able to choose where I shop and a vehicle by which to be able to get there.  I can make a decision as to where I shop and choose not to visit the Stop and Shop in Pembroke again.  The company will not miss my shopping there, but my dignity has a higher value than the buy one, get one free strawberries I purchased.

Resignation

I resigned from one of my jobs today. The icing on the cake that prompted the letter came when a clergy colleague sent me a piece on spiritual exhaustion. Part of the reading contained an excerpt from Psalm 31-9-16, You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

I am reminded this week that Jesus was at a place of spiritual exhaustion. He needed to pray, to have time in solitude as well as having time to eat with those he loved. How hard it must have been to share that last meal, to give instruction and let both his male and female disciples know that the road to spreading the news was not going to be an easy.

Resignations are always fraught with mixed emotions. One day I just woke up exhausted. I could do no more. The broader issues and problems of the organization and administration had worn me down. I needed to stop now and sit at Jesus’ table and be feed. My friend Dave says “you may not be the person who is able to help someone, but you may have planted a seed that makes the person who comes after you water the seed to grow.”

God’s power reaches us when we need a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, and a meal to share.

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The Bread of Life

The thing to remember about communion is that breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace. This simple act says that we form a community together.

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