#Ferguson take one

Sometimes I don’t know what to say – how to convey the depth, the rage, the grief, the silence, the questions, the solidarity-while-I-know-I-am-still-different-ness. Sometimes I feel like I have to tone it down, or translate, or wait, or lift up other voices, or process thoughtfully, or confess, or something – before I can speak or comment or exhort. If I participate in the conversations I want to challenge, to build up, to advocate, to come alongside the grief, the pain, the anger, the misunderstanding. Between different experiences, different shades of skin, and different assumptions there is delicate ground to dance on; when to encourage, when to challenge, when to listen, when to speak up.

Then I check in with those I know and love, and I lament. There I am heard, and I hear, and then I remember – we need each other. We are all learning. There is no quick easy fix, no explanations that clear up all the pain. There is the struggle, the journey – there is community, and connection – there is growth and reconciling – there is confession, grief – and there is hope.

The reality is that this long darkness of racism, violence, and dehumanizing the other – the fear, ignorance, greed, divided communities and world views – these sins did not arrive as a result of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, a week ago; these sins did not visit our country or our churches overnight. This struggle, the pain, these divisions – they have been festering and infecting wounds for a long, long, long time.
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The Power of Pentecost

An engaging article by Rhonda Mawhood Lee at Duke’s “Faith and Leadership” can be found here, on the importance of Pentecost in challenging our nationalist, ethnic, and other assumptions. One quote:

“The biblical witness tells me the Spirit sends them: invitations to listen for truths spoken in an unfamiliar accent, to sing a familiar song to a new melody, to hear a Bible story narrated from a perspective I’d rather ignore because it threatens my understanding of the world.

God offers these invitations not because the church is one more diversity program to be tweaked according to the latest census data but because the messianic age has come. The reign of Babel has ended, and Jesus Christ’s followers are called to proclaim that reality.”

Amen.

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Thankful for CCDA Today

Tonight the annual CCDA Conference at this year’s location in Indianapolis. I almost was able to attend/teach there this year, but couldn’t work out the details. While talking with friends about this event, I was reminded of how great this gathering is for connecting and being rejuvenated with folks that are “like you,” if you’re a practitioner, a pastor in the city, an activist, a dreamer, a thinker, or a person who just wants to see the church live out its whole mandate in terms of building community and being the hands and feet of Christ.

If you are somehow able to go a this last minute, they accept on-site registration and have day pass options as well; or just learn more about CCDA at www.ccda.org. (And there is a brief history of this organization in this post, if you’re interested.)

My good friend, colleague and master workshop-leader Rev.Dr. Felicia LaBoy and I co-led two seminars last year at CCDA’s conference here in Chicago. The first one was packed out and was recorded; it was titled, “Being Mary in a Martha Kind of World.” It was all about how to abide and do ministry, even urban/pastoral/life-consuming kinds of ministry, out of God’s strength and not our own. We had a great time preparing this material and being there together – I am remembering the gift that it was to teach that with her and to recall the wisdom that God was showing us during that process as well. We also led a second workshop on-site at Uptown Baptist Church on Wilson about for-profit and non-profit ways to connect CCD ministries, with a much smaller crowd (which wasn’t taped.)

And, here are some of my favorite quotes from last year’s CCDA Conference that I am feeling especially thankful for today:

“In West Africa they ask a question – ‘What called you forth?’ In other wods, why were you brought to this earth? You see, they believe that everyone is ‘called forth’ for a particular reason, that everyone has a unique purpose and is meant to fulfill the specific call that God has placed on his/her life. What called YOU forth?” -Brenda Salter-McNeil

“We must remember where we came from, rejoice in the present, and re-imagine the future. Life has a way of knocking you around if you are just ready to be king at a young age and don’t remember what came before you… John Perkins founded this movement on suffering, on being faithful and choosing forgiveness laying in a hospital bed when no one else was looking. And John Perkins founded this movement on Scripture, on a love for the Word…” – Brenda Salter-McNeil

“We have to learn how to speak the language of the people we are trying to get money/resources from; we can’t expect them to understand what we are talking about otherwise. If we don’t, we might be missing out on people that God has put in places of privilege and influence that want to give us favor, that want to give us grants, that want to give us their computers and their resources. There are Christians who love the Lord who I believe God is preparing to serve our churches and our ministries; we need to make it easier on them to help us.” – Felicia Howell LaBoy

“Your people will build up the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” – Isaiah 58:12

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