Lenten Reflection: The Most High is Doing Something in the Ruins (Isaiah 61 :1-4)

I know this is late but I still wanted to share this reflection I wrote to encourage anyone who feels like their life, family, dreams or community is in ruins. This reflection was apart of the 40 Days of Prayer Lenten Series that Restoration Church and Metro Hope Church developed, be blessed!

- Public Art in East Harlem Photo by Onleilove Alston

– The Sistas in East Harlem

Sit in silence and read each version of the passage opening your heart to what the spirit wants to communicate to you.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations and renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. – Amplified Bible

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Prayers for Children

Sandy HookMy heart was saddened when I learned of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but I was also reminded that in the inner-city children are shot and killed everyday. Growing up in East New York, Brooklyn I was accustomed to hearing gun shots and hitting the floor for cover at an early age, this is a tragedy as well. In Chicago for 6-months in 2012 on average 50 people were killed by gun violence a month (many children and teens), this is higher than the death rate in war torn countries. Trauma research has shown that youth in inner-city communities in California have higher trauma rates than youth in Iraq-this is a tragedy as well. I do not like to compare pain because pain is pain but what we must overstand is that when we allow the poor to die for years without concern we open ourselves up for tragedies like Sandy Hook. ALL life is sacred! Black, white, rich, poor, children, teens and elderly. What is done to one affects all because you can not build a gated community to keep out the violence and pain of the rejected. Yes we need access to mental health and gun control but what we also need are villages that will shepherd youth with love and justice.

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2012 Blog of the Year Award!

It has been very encouraging to receive a few blog awards lately and thanks to Nizy over at Nizy’s Life Compendium, Eunice at Living and Loving, Rynnie at Modest is the Hottest I received five “Blog of the Year 2012 Awards”.

Below are blogs I think deserve this award because of the inspiring content:

  1. Nizy’s Life Compendium
  2. Crazy Fun Sexy Guide for Women
  3. CloudIn
  4. The Tale of My Heart
  5. Tripod Trippin’
  6. Coco J. Ginger Says

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Poetry Challenge Day 4: Healing Waters

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Today I learned about the Institute for Poetic Medicine which focuses on the healing power of poetry. Poetry can be used to help treat physical and psychological illnesses. Poetic therapy is even used in hospitals. Inspired by this new knowledge I felt led to reflect on my own healing journey.

Water
Cleansing
the deepest part of me.
A balm within myself, touch me and make me
Whole & Holy.

This is Art??? Have a Piece of Venus Hottentot Cake for World Arts Day

A few months ago a grave spectacle of so-called art took place in Sweden where a cake of an African-American woman’s body (created by a biracial man) was cut by the Swedish minister of “culture”, while those in the room cheered and laughed. What is shocking about this is that the cake was created to look like a black face caricature of a Black woman and the cake was cut where the reproductive organs would be.  This cake is known as the “Venus Hottentot Cake”. Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman a slave became known as “Venus Hottentot” and was taken to Europe to have her body exhibited,  she was sometimes kept as an animal in a zoo and the cake looked like a caricature of her likeness. This  was not art but a barbaric reenactment of female genital mutilation and yet another example of how the Black woman’s womb is under attack. I have written about the high incidents of fibroids among Black women and though diet plays a great role in this health crisis stress, psycho-social and spiritual issues also play a role in reproductive heath. Though we may feel that all is well and that  we are seen as fully human a quick look around in the media, music and now contemporary art shows that the Black woman’s sexuality is still being used to sell everything and her womb is still being exploited. Sadly this art was created by an African-Swedish man who has made weak attempts to address the criticism of this art “exhibit” Dr. Claudette Carr wrote an Open Letter from African Women to the Minister of Culture: The Venus Hottentot Caketo address this travesty.

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What Vincent van Gogh can Teach us about Clergy, Artist & Depression

Though I still love Kandinsky I have to show some love to Vincent van Gogh. Many may not know that he was a missionary early in life and tried to become a minister but failed in theology school and was fired from his missionary post for actually following in Christ foot steps and living among the poor miners he ministered to; he actually slept on the floor and lived in poverty by choice. The church felt his choice demeaned the office of minister-wow what spiritual ignorance. What many may not know is that Van Gogh’s most well known work Starry Night is a powerful indictment on the church because all the buildings in the painting have lights that are turned on except–the church. Starry Night always challenges me to consider about my role as a faith-based organizer and spiritual person-is the light of Christ turned on in my life? On one hand I have always wondered (with indignation) what  the church lost because Van Gogh was not allowed to minister, but the Holy Spirit allowed me to see  that by being kicked out of the church Van Gogh’s purpose was able to expand so that generations are able to benefit from his art. Sometimes our anointing and gifts are too expansion for the church, but I don’t want to start preaching so I will let you all meditate on that! “Van Gogh aspired to become an artist in God’s service, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture.” Van Gogh can teach us much about what true ministry is and the role of depression in the lives of many artist and clergy(yes many clergy suffer with depression even Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King faced bouts of depression).

English: Theo van Gogh, 21 years of age. Accor...

English: Theo van Gogh, 21 years of age. According to the Nationaal Archief this would be Vincent van Gogh, the source of this photograph is the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. However, Stedelijk Museum transferred their material to the Van Gogh Museum when it was founded. The latter states it is a depiction of Theo van Gogh.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Personally, I have struggled with depression and though I am healed from the darkest bouts, to stay in that healing I have to lean on God’s grace, seek out help and make choices each day to live in joy.

What can the life and work of Van Gogh teach us about the role of depression in the lives of ministers and artist?

Note: as I understand Van Gogh my have lost his faith after being rejected by a woman he was pursuing and her family, but anyone who walks this path of faith knows that there are ups and downs and so we can not judge the final destination his journey.

Lenten Reflection for MARK 10:46-52: “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is a lenten reflection I wrote for Park Avenue Christian Church’s Lenten Series and I wanted to share it with all of you in the hopes that you receive some encouragement from it, be blessed!

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

MARK 10:46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Reflection

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Bartimaeus was desperate for healing, so he boldly called out for what he needed though he was rebuked for doing so. Bartimaues’ neighbors probably found his display of desperation embarrassing and unsettling. Many times in our communities we allow ourselves and others to suffer in silence, but in this passage, God shows us that he is not unsettled by our cries, but will respond to them.

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Your Black World Series: Black Women & Fibroids the Silent Epidemic that’s Screaming in our Community

I was elated to be accepted as one of Dr. Boyce Watkins “Your Black World” bloggers a few weeks ago and decided to  do a series of post on Black women and fibroids. Please see my first post below:

Fibroids are more common in African-American women than in women of other racial groups. One study showed that fibroids are three times more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women. Additionally, fibroids tend to be larger and occur at an earlier age in African-Americans.” The Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Project

Instances of fibroids are of epidemic proportions among Black women and yet we are not hearing about this issue in our magazines, television shows or on our blogs. If left untreated or diagnosed too late fibroids can cause heavy and painful menstruation, painful sexual intercourse, urinary frequency, hinder pregnancy and may even lead to a hysterectomy. Black women develop fibroids earlier than their white counterparts and have more sever symptoms. While many feminist groups cry out for reproductive health this issue is ignored, could it be because it affects Black women at disproportionate rates? Like most of America the healthcare system is infected with racism, which means that conditions that affect the Black community are ignored and so like so most issues we have to take matters into our own hands. More After the Jump