Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So, there was a reason that I refused to make promises on this new Blog--I knew I wouldn't have the time to blog as often as I'd like. In my perfect world, I'd wake early, pray, put on a pot of tea, read the newspaper, and then blog. Gardner Taylor said that a good preacher prepares with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Well, I've got my Bible, but waking to read the paper hasn't happened just yet. I'm barely waking in time to eat breakfast.
So, what's keeping me so busy? In addition to my classes, work at the church, my position as Chapel Steward, and being president of the Black Ministerial Caucus, I am working as the research assistant for the God-Talk with Black Thinkers class at Drew. In just two days, we will be blessed by Dr. Charles H. Long and Dr. Carolyn Jones Medine, who will be presenting a DuBoisian look at politics and civil religion. Working with my shero, Dr. N. Lynne Westfield, on the project has reminded me how much I love academia.
Lest you think I'm running away from the church, I must tell you that my work at Imani Baptist Church in East Orange has reminded me how much I love being part of church worship and growth. So, as I discern the specifics of my call to ministry, I am pretty sure that I'll have one foot in both places.
What about my art, you ask? Okay, maybe you didn't ask it. I'm asking it. What about my art? That'll be wrapped up in there too. Since sharing with you that I must create or I will die, I have designed a poster and program for the lecture series AND designed my perfect worship space. It's a funny story, actually...
Dr. Elkins, my worship professor, gave us folders in the beginning of the class. She is this magical woman who knows so much it is scary and teaches in narrative. Everything is a story. She is so amazing that you could go on a field trip with her to Walmart and find God in the cereal aisle. Anyway, back to the folder. During the second week of class, she asked us to take our folders home and draw our perfect sanctuary or worship space on the inside of the folder. I must stop and mention that this was an ungraded assignment. UNGRADED. So, being the artist (and overachiever) that I am, I proceeded to cut open a shoe box, staple it to the inside of my folder, cut images and words from Essence magazine, and create a 3D model of my perfect sanctuary, complete with an ocean for baptistism, a communion table, jewels, flowers, women in the congregation, and a woman suspended gracefully in the air holding a Bible. Did I mention that this assignment was ungraded?
I don't have three feet, but I am convinced that I will end up in a place where all of my passions-art, education, and ministry-come together. Maybe it will be that worship space that I designed on the inside of my folder. I am a dreamer, you know...
Monday, September 15, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Ok, so my weekend officially begins on Thursday at 8:15pm (after my Religion and the Social Process class). To celebrate, I am going to leave you with the highlights of my week, top 10 style.
10. Laughing up a storm with one of my roommates. She is super relaxed. I am easily excited, especially by cute Gladware type containers. The result is a really humorous episode in the kitchen where she threatens me never to display that much excitement about moulded plastic. It was classic!
9. A Raise. One of my campus jobs is paying more than I anticipated! Yeah!
8. Packages in the mailroom. Okay, so maybe they weren't care packages. Okay, so maybe I had them sent myself, but there is nothing like a box with books from Amazon. Oh wait, sure there is...I almost forgot about the dress I got for dirt cheap on BananaRepublic.com by way of salemail.com.
7. Dean's Task Force on Race. I joined this group last year. We met on Wednesday and had a telling and productive conversation. I am excited about the work that is happening around Seminary Hall.
6. Leftover spaghetti. I made a mean sauce on Saturday that fed me, my roommate and two neighbors until Tuesday! Talk about manna from heaven!
5. Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies. Good book. Nah, great book! Lamott is raggedy, grace filled, and has a beautiful way with words!
4. Meeting a family of four deer on the path while walking home by myself. I'm not sure I'm going to walk the path alone anymore. While it was scary, it was also cool to see the doe's maternal instinct when her baby darted across the path in fear that I was coming at him. It was almost like watching a mother if her toddler ran in the street in front of a Mack truck.
3. Bellydancing! There was a free class on campus this week. It is going to cost $20 for the rest of the semester. When I did the math it come out to less that 2 bucks a class! To think, I once (okay twice) paid $75 for a bellydancing class (well, kind of. That included a $65 expired meter parking ticket, but still).
2. Front loading assignments. I had two presentations this week. Crazy? I think not-I got two big assignments out of the way while I have the energy to do it!
1. Prayer. Whether in chapel, walking the path, in Seminary Hall with new students, or laying in my bed, my conversations with God this week have been off the hook!
So, how was your week? I don't need a top 10, but I will take a top 1 from 10 people!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
This morning I woke up a few minutes early to style my hair for church. Nothing new, right?
Wrong. This morning was different. Today was the first morning that I would sport my newly cut mohawk to church and I was feeling some kind of way.
I got my hair cut just a few weeks ago. If you know me, or you've seen me in the last few years, you know that I change my hair almost as often as I change the oil on my car. In fact, when I wasn't in the habit of taking better care of my car, I did change my hair more frequently than every 3 months or 3,000 miles. But I digress.
My hair is an extension of my creativity. Sometimes, like now with all of the reading that I have to do (the reading that I am avoiding as I write this), it is my only opportunity to create something visually beautiful. I was sharing with a friend just yesterday that if I don't make art that I will die. Literally. So for now, until I can carve out time again, my hair is my medium.
Back to my mohawk. So, I took the punk route and cut it days after my last Sunday at my home church (it is bad enough that I am a minister who doesn't wear stockings) and days before leaving for Durham with Courtney. I have to admit, I love the cut! It is the best style I've had in over a year! It is funky, pretty, sassy, and present-just like me.
So, what is the big deal? I was totally feeling my mohawk until I returned to school. Although I had a good number of people give me props for my hair, I also had a number of folks look at me funny, question the response from those at my supervised ministry site, and ask me what made me cut it. I had a telephone conversation with one of my boys (when I was looking for a barber) who hadn't sen my hair and he gently mentioned the nature of the church I would be serving. They are an older and more traditional congregation, and he wasn't sure a mohawk would be welcomed. He changed his mind when he saw me a few days later, but still, anxiety clouded my joy and confidence. For a brief moment I was nervous about going to church and serving in ministry. Then I had to remember that God constantly reminds me, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). Even before Lois and John even knew each other's names, God had already created me. Not only did he make me, but he knew me. That means God created me to be a creative, courageous, funky, quirky, sensitive, nerdy,"know-it-all," girly-girl. And guess what? He still called me to the ministry.
Ministry isn't about conforming to anything except the example of Christ. My mohawk doesn't matter to God, my heart does.
In case you were wondering, no one at the church even bat an eye at me today. They welcomed me with loving arms and spoke only of the work we would do together in the name of our Savior. Why, because that's what Jesus would do. I have a feeling that Jesus would like my mohawk, too.
Tonight I do not pose a question, but rather I want to encourage you. Below is a story from Tales of the Hasidism, written by Martin Buber, about a rabbi who encounters God upon his death:
Simply put, God wants us to be ourselves.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I used to call 3am an ungodly hour. After my partying days were done, I didn't see the point in staying up past 9:30pm (you think I jest, but I was serious-I am Lois' daughter). Lately, 3am doesn't seem so ungodly. Fred Hammond sings, and I have experienced, "Late in the midnight hour, God's gonna turn it around, it's gonna work in your favor..." In the last year or so I have used this particular hour as more than just a time to scurry to the bathroom without waking myself up in the process. In fact, this time has become sacred–a Divine appointment, if you will.
Theologically, there are examples of people who are called blessed because they arise early to begin their day. I'm thinking specifically about the woman of Proverbs 31, described by King Lemuel's mother as the perfect wife for her son. Admittedly, when I wake at 3am, my hope is always that I will return to sleep, even if only for few minutes, before having to really start the day. So in my case, I am drawn to the story of Samuel as recorded in the third chapter of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a young man serving in Eli's house. One night he was in a deep sleep and he heard someone call his name. He scurried to Eli's room twice (I imagine him with eyes closed, feeling the walls, trying to avoid being fully awakened) only to find that it was not Eli calling him. Eli instructs him to reply directly to God. In obedience, when Samuel heard the voice again, he replied, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” That night, God did indeed speak to Samuel.
So, what to I do when I hear the voice of God calling me in the middle of the night. I used to toss and turn until I fell back asleep, but now, like Samuel, I say, "Speak for your servant hears." How do I do this, you ask?
I pray at 3am,
I meditate at 3am,
I read my Bible at 3am,
I write in my journal at 3am,
I finish homework at 3am,
and, today, I blog at 3am.
I wish I could tell you that this morning I am having some super spiritual experience. I did pray when I got up, but then I was just up. Truth is, I didn't even make it to 9:30 last night. My head hit my pillow at about 8:03 and I was sleep by 8:08. It was a long day in a long first week back to school. I must add, however, that albeit long, it was a GREAT first week back to school. I enjoyed catching up with friends, worshipping in chapel, meeting new people (including a line-up of amazing professors), and getting back to work. This semester is going to be as challenging as the first, but in different ways. Last year, I learned to read again. Let me rephrase: I learned to critically and carefully read again. This year is more about reading myself and my experiences to see how they shape who I am (and who I will be) in ministry. This year holds the same level of academic rigor coupled with practical experience and reflection. I am taking 5 classes (Baptist Polity, Church at Worship:Liturgy, Supervised Ministry, Religion and the Social Process, and God Talk with Black Thinkers: W.E.B. DuBois).
So, as I prepare to go back to sleep, my question for you to ponder (or leave a comment, hint, hint) is: what do you do when you wake up in the midnight hour?
(image taken from http://i.pbase.com/u37/marsci1/large/24158665.MidnightMoon.jpg)