Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Powerful Women Empowering

I am currently attending the Nigerian Women Empowerment Award Dinner and Leadership Workshop Conference at the Mid-America Club on the 80th floor of the Aon Building in Chicago--the view is amazing and today was a prefect day for it.

Many things about the day impressed me, but perhaps most was the preamble to the oath of office the new leadership one of the host organizations, the National Councils of Women's Societies of Nigeria in the Diaspora. It went something like this, "We in Nigeria are a very religious people. So now, whatever religion you are, whatever God you pray to; if you take this oath, know that God will hold you responsible. We are not playing at this, the lives of our children depend on what you do..."

Let us come this week to prayer. Let us come from the diaspora of our living--the scatteredness of our stress-full, hectic, demanding lives before that which Unites us and Endures. Let us ask that we are given all good strength and focus of compassion for our living such that all that we do might be presented as an offering worthy to lay before the feel of whatever God we pray to. And, that always in our hearts and in our minds is some glimpse of the vision of the impact of who we are and what we are doing on the world we are building for the children of us all. Amen. 

Image: Her Excellency Dame Patience Jonathan Goodluck,First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria patron of sponsoring societies: the The Association of Nigerian Women Leaders In Diaspora and the National Council of Nigerian  Women's Societies. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love is Patient

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Because such gifts are so rare, in this world where death and violence often seem unremitting, this week, let us pray for patience and kindness and grace. Let us ask to be filled with such trust in the deep and abiding beauty of our own natures and in the nature’s of those who we love that our greatest joy is in the simple truth of them. Let us pray to hold and believe and hope and be sustained in all that we are and all that we do and, most especially, in our love for any who would come our way. Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I don’t know about you, but when Sunday’s violence just up the road in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was occurring I was sitting safely in my pew next to a good friend who is worried about her father’s progressing Alzheimer’s and in front of a lovely older couple who are worried about some of the declines in health that you might imagine. As the events in the Sikh Gurdwaw (meaning the Gateway to the Guru), or temple, were reaching their horrific climax, our congregation was singing:

O for a world where everyone/Respects each other's ways,/Where love is lived and all is done/With justice and with praiseO for a world preparing for/God's glorious reign of peace,/Where time and tears will be no more,/And all but love will cease.

Our pastor had just finished preaching a sermon titled, “When our Theology Goes on Tilt,” responding to the horrific events of the previous week in Colorado. She was trying to help us all begin to right ourselves, make some meaning amid news stories that filled our struggling hearts and minds with the awful and the evil (the official definition of evil being, simply, the absence of good). She told us what she admitted she needed to hear; it was what we all needed to hear. It is what, I confess to you, I need to hear once again in these days…

She reminded us how unhelpful it can be when other people offer consolation to us by defining God’s will in the face of horrible tragedy, and of how our greatest and most certain consolation is always that God is with us during these times, so closely, that it often quite hard for us to see him. She affirmed that God was most tenderly with all who died and with all who are suffering and grieving. That God is most tenderly with us and our loved ones right now as we are trying to right ourselves once again in the wake of more senseless violence, death and loss; and that God is with each of us in all our times of grief and pain, uncertainty and fear. She affirmed that, despite our inclinations towards believing all the evidence to the contrariety, God is with each of us as we struggle to pick up the pieces of our shattered world views, our broken hearts and souls.

In an interview with Sojourners Magazine, responding to the events in Wisconsin, Ralph Singh, an international Sikh leader, offered these words: “A Sikh, wherever they go in the world, is committed to building community a community of peace, an inclusive community to stand as an affirmation of what we now call pluralism," and asks that we join the Sikh community in sharing our stories, personal and those of our faith traditions so that we all might work toward the goal of Sikh communities which is working toward building a more compassionate and inclusive society.
To my ear, our stories sound quite alike.

Let us pray this week to see more clearly God with us, whatever the circumstance might be and for the deep consolation and profound comfort that our hearts need. Let us ask for the grace to become partners with God, and with one another, in creating a more compassionate and inclusive community. Let us pray for a world where everyone respects each other’s ways, a world where all that we do seeks justice and love, and in sings praise to God. May all that we are and all that do sing of our prayer for a world of peace and unceasing love. Amen.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jesus is Out of The Church

Here is what I learned today: 

The old Haitian woman is brown, and bent and slight as her walking stick. I was so glad to see her. I had worried in all this heat. In the past, she has told me that she has many years since made peace with the voices in her head and her need for Jesus. With Jesus, she told me, she has a happy life off her meds which often seemed to make things worse. It was not always thus; a jagged life she is glad she is long past.

She came to join us today carrying a bouquet of wild flowers, all green and yellow and sienna and orange. They were beautiful. Finding no vase, she took a can out of the recycling and left them for everyone to enjoy.

She told me, through long missing teeth, to go to the local village fest. It features the music from many cultures, it is important for all of us to try to increase our understanding of other people if we are going to live well with one another. I must go too because they have a gospel tent. They are bringing Jesus to the people.

Jesus, she says, is locked up these days in the churches. It wasn’t always thus. She tells me of  her childhood in a poor mountain town where the RC church was so far away that they could only go twice a year. The Pentecostals were out among all the small villages. All the Catholic parents would send their children to the Pentecostal bible school and worship services held in tents so they could learn about Jesus. All carried strict instructions no to go down to the Alter Call. Many did, though, and later brought their parents.

The people need Jesus today, she tells, me. He needs to be brought out of the churches and back to the poor, hurting, struggling people.