Soul Fiber: Praying for God

I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with God’s praise.” Psalm 34:1. The Message

Nancy S. Taylor, Senior Minister, South Church, Boston, writes the following prayer in her devotional Dear God, I promise not to abandon you in your hour of grief. I promise to visit with you daily and to hold you on my heart and in my prayers. I promise not to avert my eyes from the miseries that break your heart. And, by endeavoring to truly love my enemies and wage peace, I promise to do everything within my frail powers not to add to your distress.

She heralds her prayer with a litany of some earthly woes that break God’s heart: The devastation as Ebola advances among the world’s poorest and least equipped; the despair of parents of black teenagers cut down by officers of the law; the unexpected plight of airplanes falling from the sky; the quandary of Yazidi refugees and the murderous hatred of ISIS; the sight of children clawing their way to safety at our southern border; the peoples of Israel and Palestine whose horns are locked in desperate and deadly combat…

Imagine listening to and hearing from nearly 7,000,000 earthly inhabitants daily crying out to God – by many names – for some type of help. Remember the movie Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carey? He came to the conclusion that God was not answering his prayers quick enough and volunteered to show God that he could answer the people’s prayers from all over the world in short order by way of email. Needless-to-say, in the movie Carey was allowed access to praying folk worldwide. Within three days, Carey was down for the count and his computer was fried.

Many years ago, my cousin and I were traveling from Washington DC to our homes in Columbus and as we were coming around the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia mountains we were in awe of their beauty. I thought “will God really allow humans to destroy the beauty of the earth?” This was long before environmental justice became popular. Then I said out loud “Do you think God appreciates the beauty of the earth?” Cuz said “God’s been lookin at the earth and all of creation for a long, long time and still thinks we’re beautiful.”

After all that we have done to be destructive to ourselves and to others, God still thinks we are worth opportunities to turn around, seek, and fulfill our true purpose: to love God, self, and others as God loves. I believe that is God’s only prayer. And, as we answer God’s prayer our prayers to God and for God are answered.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.

Soul Fiber: No Hurt Like Church Hurt

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. John 10:15-17 Message

Over the weekend, I attended my first Pride festival. Initially I was quite fearful that someone would see me and say “see, I told you she was gay.” And then I thought “in the sense that I am full of joy I am gay.” I came to the much needed conclusion that I am taking the word ‘gay’ back to define the wonderful, happy, joyful life with which God is so richly blessing me; and, if others wanted to make something else of it, have at it. Space for Grace Fellowship is on a mission to reach those other believer’s Jesus references in John 10:15-17. Upon making that decision, my third eye saw the word ‘also’ in the phrase “they’ll also recognize My voice.” What a revelation that the others are not those who worship in a different setting or denomination that must come to “my” faith-based organization and beliefs.

I grew up with a “God is going to get you” type of theology. No matter how hard I tried to “be holy as God is holy” I failed and was bound for hell in a hand basket. God was a tall white guy with long white hair and a beard like Santa Clause without a red suit, sitting on the throne of judgment, writing every word I spoke, every thought I thought, and every behavior I committed. And one day, when I died, God was going to pull out the Book of Books and if my name was not in it, oh well. “Vengeance is Mine,” saith the Lord.

Only in recent years have I been introduced to a just – characterized by the quality of being fair and reasonable – and loving God. When I for ten years and tested this vengeful God I discovered that God was not wrathful or nearly as unreasonable as ‘church folk made God out to be. As a matter of fact, I learned more about the love of God in secular living than I had ever learned in the ‘church.’ Any vengeance – punishment inflicted or retribution in reaction to or return for an injury or wrong that I may have experienced – was self-imposed.

We lovingly witnessed and listened to 400 people at Lansing’s Pride and shared our invitational bookmark providing a date, time, and location with the caption: “THERE’S NO HURT LIKE CHURCH HURT: LET’S TALK.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.

Soul Fiber: God is Working for Your Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 New International Version

Are we not taking on too much when we take matters into our own hands –foreign, domestic , and personal affairs?

Without much thought many law enforcement folk are shooting to kill black men and shooting to cripple white men. Where is the justice in that? More same gender loving couples are experiencing successful, long-term marriages and are model parents while many heterosexuals are killing their children and experiencing domestic violence in record numbers. Is the religious right wrong and those who’ve been labeled wrong right? Successful suicides are at an all-time high and society refuses to lift the stigma associated with mental illness.  Wars and rumors of wars are raging in Northern African (now called the Middle East), global warming is coming to life, and Ebola is running its course leaving hundreds dead in its wake. Sounds like end times? Looks like God is being vengeful? Many doomsdays naysayers would answer “yes.”

Reverend Kenneth L. Samuel, Founder and Senior Pastor of Victory Church in Atlanta writes: If domestic disputes and community conflicts could shift the focus from individual villains to shared responsibility, more of our families and communities could be saved and strengthened. If political parties on Capitol Hill would cease the partisan blame game and take more responsibility for the nation’s gridlock, we could all make better progress. There’s always plenty of blame to go around, but responsibility never seems to have enough takers.”

Even the many doomsdays naysayers may agree that if we took our responsibilities as serious as we took our would be rights, we may be able to turn the woes that plague our individual and collective lives to wonderment as we behold and experience God’s promise as expressed throughout Holy Writ and especially as written in Romans 8:28-29 (The Message):   We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. 29 God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters.

In summary “We [the people God made, called, and chose before the foundation of the world] know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. The people include you. Yes, God is working for your good.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.

Soul Fiber: We Are Blessed

Listen to that still, small voice. It saves you from unnecessary trauma.” Dr. Pj

Faith leaders from around the state participated in marriage equality celebrations in Lansing and Warren aimed at blessing all families. The blessing included not just one denomination, nor just one faith. Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, non-denominational Christian, Jewish, and American Baptist congregations, atheist, and agnostics were present. The event was sponsored by

Michigan for Marriage, Inclusive Justice, Affirmations, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, The Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, The Jim Toy Center, the Jewish Gay Network, Equality Michigan, ACLU of Michigan, Freedom to Marry, and Lansing Association for Human Rights. Almost 300 people showed up. Only three of us were Black and two of us were ally’s.  Have Black people been so beaten down by irrational theology that they have become more accustomed to the violence of the closet? I do understand, by the way.

In 2000 I self-published Can the LORD BE MY SHEPHERD If I Am Guy? There was quite an uproar within the Black community of faith poised against the messenger. Like Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, many came to me by night seeking solace and counsel with what they perceived to be a trusted ally.

As the Senior Organizer for the Space for Grace Fellowship UCC, I was asked to bring the blessing for all families. Since I was clueless about what that meant, I inquired of the Lord and what was given to me was a litany followed by the cadence “we are blessed” (WRB):

You are me and I am you, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ only One – WRB

Seek to become one with your own body, mind, and spirit so that you will know your oneness with the universal body, collective mind, and wholesome spirit of everything for your good – WRB. Freddie Hammond, a gospel singing icon puts it this way:

“We’re blessed in the city, we’re blessed in the field, we’re blessed when we come and when we go, we cast down every stronghold, sickness and poverty must cease
for the devil [godless spirit] is defeated we are blessed.” There are several versus to the blessing and it ended with “WRB as one family with many members. WRB are blessed with a constant divine companion known by many names and in that name that is above all names we proclaim ‘we are blessed.’

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.

Soul Fiber: Traveling Mercies for a Hitch Hiker

Listen to that still, small voice. It saves you from unnecessary trauma.” Dr. Pj

The first time I read the sign “Travelling and Hungry” it was being held by a woman standing on the corner of Pennsylvania and I-496. I wanted to stop and assist but stopping would make me late for an engagement. So, I promised the Holy Spirit I would come back when I returned to go home.

Four hours later, as I was returning home, I noticed she was still there, standing in the rain with her dog. I stopped and rolled down window to offer her the only tangible thing I had – a gift card. She said she could use it. Then, I asked her about her travels. She stated that she had come from Houston to Lansing to help some friends and that she was on her way to South Dakota. “That’s a long way. Do you have any mace?” “No,” she answered. So, I gave her my mace and a prayer for traveling mercies.” She thanked me and I hopped onto the freeway toward home.

Halfway home I thought about the young lady travelling with dog to South Dakota. I prayed for travelling mercies and that she would reach her destination safely. Hitchhiking is not the safest way to travel. The experience reminded me of several things including the operation of determination, the significance of friendship, doing what you have to do to get where you have to go, and the many times Jesus travelled on foot through some dangerous places. I also thought about my ancestors, my parents, freedom fighters from the very first run-away slave to my own memories of the dangerous places personally traveled – Dessert Shield/Dessert Storm, the Gulf War, Okinawa, Japan, and throughout Italy, Germany, Spain, and Greece, and the United States of America.

Throughout my journeys, I knew my mother was praying for me and continually asking God for travelling mercies. Most notably, ten years after Mom’s death, I was issued military orders to serve in Naples, Italy. Mom visited me in my dreams every night for two weeks, warning me that prayers for travelling mercy was out of the question. I was amazed when the Commander notified the entire unit that all orders to travel to Naples had been cancelled due to an extended garbage worker’s strike making the city a foul, rodent infested, unsafe place to be. Pay attention to the many ways that the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something, including your dreams.

While you’re praying for traveling mercies for all travelers, remember those who have no other way to travel other than hitchhiking.

Please pray for American and Coalition soul’s killed-in-action,

their families and, especially their children.