top of page
Search

Yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term, Holy Week is the seven days Christians take to remember and reflect on the events that led Jesus to the cross and, ultimately, his resurrection that we celebrate on Easter Sunday. Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, and many churches spend the day reflecting on Jesus’s final entry into Jerusalem. With that walk, we have a community of people acknowledging the supremacy of who Jesus is. There are large crowds. Coats honorable laid on the ground. Waving palm branches. Celebrations and admiration. Many sermons focus on detailing the vivid imagery regarding the waving palm branches and the shouting onlookers - “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)


Here’s what is interesting for me. Jesus—who went nowhere with self-promoting fanfare—starts his final entry into Jerusalem on the lowliest of animals to be met with the loudest and most celebratory of welcomes. He picked an animal created to serve. He picked an animal that symbolized peace. He picked an animal known for being sure and steady rather than prominent and proud. Jesus didn’t say bring me a horse. He said bring me a donkey.


I think Jesus chose the method that matched his mission. He came to serve, not to be served. He is known as the Prince of Peace, not the orchestrator of war. And in every situation where circumstances got rough, and people were unpredictable, Jesus was sure and steady. His character never wavered. His actions were dictated by what would bring about peace and wholeness, not replicate power and prestige. Jesus was intentional! Can we say the same? As Jesus followers, called to this ministry of reconciliation, does our method match our mission?


In one of his final moments of exaltation, he put his weight on a symbol of service, peace, and humility. True—Jesus was en route to be the payment that would mend our relationship with God, but he did so on the principles of service, peace, and humility as the people called out “Hosanna” or “God save us!” Maybe the saving power of God is not in a forceful presence but in a peaceful and humble progression. A progression that isn’t subservient to evil but just knows that you can’t match power with power and expect to get humility backed by love. Maybe the progression towards reconciliation moves in such a way that exalts God’s ability over our positions. Jesus’s march towards the cross is the walk of reconciliation. During this week, that is holy and set apart, to help us remember the work of Christ, how can you walk out service, peace, and humility as you go about being reconciled to God and others?


11 views0 comments

"When people are deconstructing and de-colonizing their theology they are not trying to be deep, they are trying not to be shallow."

Rev. Timothy Careathers

In Christendom, we spend a lot of time encouraging people to “have a personal relationship with Jesus” or to “make their faith personal,” and for that to happen, we have to give folks room to work out how their faith applies to their lives and the lives of the people around them.


How is this Jesus we hear about real? How does everyone feel his love? How does he think about abuses of power and marginalization? Does he care about people hurting here on Earth or just helping people get by until they get to this mysterious place after they die? Does the love that Jesus’ people talk about actually affect how they treat other people?


These are all questions of generations of people trying to make their faith personal. And in the words of some of my Orange friends, the opposite of shallow is personal!


The younger generations, Millennials and younger, are repulsed by a shallow religion that cannot withstand the hard questions of our existential reality. They are, however, fully invested in a personal faith that allows them to ask questions that matter and affect the livelihood of people. Their willingness to refuse the shallow is helping the whole world accept the truth of how personal the love & work of Jesus really is!

4 views0 comments

“The leadership [in multicultural churches] is especially intentional in ensuring that multiple cultural traditions shape its preaching, teaching, and worship on a daily basis.” (Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes)


Reading Dr. Walker-Barnes's article this evening struck me especially hard. I preached a message on the importance of community at my church this past Sunday. While I am an African-American woman raised and matured in the traditions of the African-American Baptist church, my church is overwhelmingly cultured by middle-class, white, American, values. So for 36 minutes I carefully and, as responsibly as possible, delivered a sermon that would help the congregation engage in community with others as a faith practice.


Due to the culture of my church, my preaching style with them is vastly different than I'd ever preach at my faith tradition and practice of origin. There was no whooping celebration to culminate the end of my sermon as is customary in my own upbringing. I didn't ask the keyboardist to put me in Bb so that I can close using rhythmic syncopation to drive home the point that Jesus had community and we find the fullness of ourselves when we walk with others too. I didn't walk through Jesus's 3 years of ministry nor the passion narrative. I altered my preaching style to fit the fish that was in the room. In the words of Paul, to become all things to all people that I might reach some (1 Corinthians 9:22). I did what is necessary for any homiletician that engages in multicultural context. The Lord was generous. The Spirit agreed. And the message went over well. A large number of people signed up to join a small group after service that day.


Afterward, one of our African American elders came up to me and said, “She always thought I was a preacher, but today I proved to be a teacher and that was so much better.” And as the insult of her compliment stung me to my core, I politely replied, “where I’m from there is no such thing as being a good preacher if you’re not a good teacher.” Her “compliment” was confirmation that she thought I had finally assimilated into the teaching traditions of my present church and laid down the traditions that had cultivated me to this point. What she didn’t know is that I wasn’t assimilating, I was code-switching so people would embrace what the Lord had for that day. What she didn't understand, was that in spite of some intentional efforts, this congregation was not yet multicultural enough for me to show up and be true to my own culture.


To the church bringing in POCs to your non-multicultural congregation to help you be multicultural...The price we pay to help you see God in a fuller light is more than you can imagine. What we choose to lay down so that the majority culture has the opportunity to pick up something different, is often something we have cherished. Traditions that we push to the side as to not become a spectacle for majority culture amusement, are not things we've forgotten. All of this is done consciously, not by accident, and not without mourning the loss. Never assume we’ve forgotten who we are, just because we know you can’t handle seeing it. And becoming more of what you can handle, is not a compliment to us, it is just a reminder that we've lost something ourselves.


So how do you express appreciation without offense? Just give the compliment. You appreciate the message. The worship song blessed you. The food was good. Refrain from making comparisons between stylistic preferences. Remember what they did to bless you, or the majority of the room, cost them a dear price. Thank them for the gift, without remarking on what you perceive they give up to be less valuable. This will show honor where honor is due without diminishing their cultural value that is different from your own.

 

Walker-Barnes, Chanequa. "Why Multicultural Churches Fail, Part One." Bearings Online. Collegeville Institute. Published: May 31 2018. https://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/why-multicultural-churches-fail/


28 views0 comments
bottom of page