One Vote, One Voice, Our Victory

Acts 8:26-40

874The last time I sat up waiting for election results was November 9, 2016.  We know how that turned out. But last night, December 12, 2017, I stayed up waiting for the election returns for the senate race in the state of Alabama. We know that Alabama is a very conservative state. A very, very conservative state with entrenched values hinged upon the “good old days of Dixie.”  The numerous allegations of senate candidate Roy Moore’s  relationships with underage girls was a stunner that any sane self-respecting person would have had to take a step back from while conducting a self-evaluation.  But no.  Not Roy Moore.  And if that wasn’t enough, his claims of slavery as the good old days when “families were united” was enough to knock anyone off of their chair.  While Moore’s immoral behavior and base values continued to shock me (and, honestly, not much shocks me), it was the group of clergypersons who rushed to his side to proclaim Moore as a moral compass that stopped me in my tracks.

I tell you, I was fearful for all of us.  Because we should know by now that even if you live in California, what happens in Maine affects you.  If you doubt it, just remember Susan Collins, the Republican senator in Maine who, although originally against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), has been a fierce fighter against its repeal.  This is great news for those of us who prefer to remain healthy and not have to sit in the emergency room every time we get the flu. So when Republican Senator Collins raised her voice despite the backlash against her colleagues, she stood steadfast and cast her vote against the appeal of Obamacare. Now, I’m sure that the fact that her constituents were bombarding her office and protesting against the repeal had something to do with it.  But still……

And last night proved that each of us–every one of us as individuals can make a difference. It was a reminder that every voice and every vote counts. And Black people and Latino people and other people of color must never forget this.  Listening to the political pundits on CNN and MSNBC yesterday revealed that the experts greatly underestimated the Black voter turnout.  “It’s an off-season election,” they said. “Black voter turnout is usually not great,” they said.  But guess what?  Black voters turned out!  Black voters turned out to vote and black voters turned up the heat. Black women especially turned out. In fact, the numbers show that it was the black woman voter who made the difference last night. (HUGE shoutout to the sisters!)  Black voters turned out because each Black voter knew that his or her vote was crucial for their survival if they (we) are to turn back the tide of oppression that has washed over our country.   We’ve seen what happens when we stay away from the polls.  Staying away from the polls is why we have the current occupant of the White House making Twitter decisions each morning. Staying away is never an option for us.  Complacency and apathy and throwing up our hands and allowing other people to make decisions for us is never an option for us. Each of us is important and necessary in the stewardship of God’s world and the care of God’s people.  This includes our actions when we decide who sits in the legislative offices in our land.  And today, for the first time in over a quarter of a century Alabama has a Democratic senator.  Congratulations Doug Jones.

Let me tell you a quick story….

In the 8th Chapter of Acts, Philip, one of the original men whom we know as the first deacons in the early church met up with a Black man.  Like many black men (and women) who had important roles in history, we do not know his name.   He is only known as the Ethiopian Eunuch.  He is described by his ethnicity and by his deformity. He is not named.  But Deacon Philip caught him reading a book and asks if he understands what he is reading. After Philip explains the passage of scripture from the Hebrew text, the Ethiopian man was baptized and the bible says that he went away rejoicing.  Tradition has it that the Ethiopian was instrumental in the spread of the gospel to other parts of the known world.  One man… making a difference and spreading the gospel.  One man — Philip– taking the time to stop and inquire about a passage of scripture being read by a brother. One person is all it takes, to make a difference.

The senate race in Alabama is over. But the race toward victory is not…. the victory of justice, righteousness, caring for the oppressed and healing the sick. These are the issues that are spoken of in both the Hebrew scriptures as well as our New Testament.  Never let anyone tell you that your one voice does not matter.  Your one vote matters,  your one voice matters, because our victory matters!

How To Respond to Distractions

TuesdUnknownay I began the first of my Tuesdays@Twelve Midday Motivation live streams.  The topic was How To Respond to Distractions and the focus text was Nehemiah 6:1-9.  Key takeaways include the fact that Nehemiah had already completed the main portions of the wall and only had a few more finishing touches to complete.  His enemies got word of what he was doing and sent messengers to try and tear him away from his work under the guise of a meeting.  But Nehemiah was not fooled.  He realized that their aim was to take him out because he was not only operating in his purpose, but he was doing it in a spirit of excellence.  I pray that this link to the video of last Tuesday’ streamcast will be a blessing to you.  The lesson begins at the 5.44 minute mark.  Remember, don’t come down from your wall!  You are doing a great work!

Tuesday at Twelve-2

 

 

The Season to Hope, Heal & Help

#GivingTuesday2017

fullsizeoutput_1cb5As we enter the Advent Season, we turn our thoughts to others. Helping others. especially helping others who have committed to helping & healing others!  I appreciate those of you who are helping to make my South Africa Mission & Study Trip a possibility in January 2018.  But during this season, I want to focus on a cause that I feel is more than worthwhile  The Helene Fuld College of Nursing, located in Harlem, New York. 

UnknownTuesday, November 28, 2017 is #GivingTuesday.  I encourage you to donate any amount you can to the Helene Fuld College of Nursing (HFCN).  The HFCN is dedicated to educating women and men  mostly Black & Latinowho might not otherwise receive a quality education as a healthcare professional. Many students hold down two jobs while studying to become a nurse. Every dollar you contribute to HFCN through Facebook on #GivingTuesday will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If you wish to mail a check, please make it payable to the Helene Fund College of Nursing and mail it to El DiJae Ministries, P.O. Box 690 779, East Elmhurst, NY  11369.  Please note, however, that checks mailed will not receive matching funds
 
 
Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
—Isaiah 53:4-5

I Can’t Help But Be Thankful Today

(1-2 minute read)

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Exactly six months ago on May 23, 2017, I entered Lenox Hill Hospital for a full hysterectomy.  Doctors had discovered that the great discomfort I had been having earlier in the year was actually a 6 1/2 inch dermoid cystic mass on my left ovary which turned out to be small cell carcinoma, a very rare but aggressive ovarian cancer.  In addition to a full (and I do mean full) hysterectomy, my doctor, who is the head of gynecologic oncology at Lenox Hill removed my appendix, my lymph nodes, and my omentum.  What is normally a routine procedure requiring a two-day stay turned into 11 days due to gastrointestinal complications.

So six months to the date, I am grateful for life.  Sounds trite and common, I know. But it’s real.  Nothing sobers you up about life and puts you in the seat of introspection like a life-threatening disease that you never thought you would have.  And although your body may be whole, there are life-threatening forces all around us. Forces designed to shorten the quality of your life, if not life itself.  So cherish each minute of each day.  Make the most of life. Grasp your faith and don’t let go.

Tomorrow may not be promised, but joy is possible!

May God bless you on this day of tradition when we come together to give thanks.

For those of you who missed my 2015 Thanksgiving post on the history of the holiday, here you go!

A Hard Kind of Love!

(2 - 3 minute read)

My friends, it is so easy to love folk when things are going right; when people are treating you well and your day is good. But how easy is it to love folk when not only is everything around you falling apart, but the very people who you count on are tripping? Jesus teaches us in John 13:34-35 how to respond not just in the midst of the day-to-day challenges that we encounter. But Jesus speaks the above-mentioned words in the scripture, right after acknowledging that someone in his inner circle is going to betray him! Not an acquaintance, not a co-worker or a colleague. But someone who he traveled with, ate with, hung out with day and night– every day and every night. Someone who he trusted with his time, friendship, and money! His money!!
But right after revealing in verse 26 that Judas Iscariot is his betrayer, Jesus turns right around in verse 34 and begins talking about loving folk! Can you believe it?? Honestly…. I’m not sure how I would have felt. Because wait….!  Not only was Judas the betrayer, but in verses 29 and 30 we know that Judas quickly left the presence of Jesus WITH the money box. What in the world?? I would have been like, “So yeah, I know you’re getting ready to snitch, but you need to leave that box right there on the table next to the bread and wine!” But not only does Jesus not say that to Judas (smh….) but Jesus lets him go and then starts talking to the rest of the disciples about …..LOVE!
You’ve already read the scripture. But essentially Jesus is saying (mind you, after Judas skips with the dough), “Look you’ve already been given a bunch of commandments, the Ten Commandments and more. But now, I’m giving you a brand new commandment —love each other.” Even though his boy Judas just committed the ultimate betrayal (and took the money with him!) Jesus is unfazed! In fact, remember that word when someone comes at you today. UNFAZED. Just say to yourself, “I am unfazed!”
Our African brothers and sisters have a word that essentially means that we see the humanity in others—even others who do things that are not too cool. The word is ubuntu. It means that we not only see the humanity in others but that we exercise and operate in a spirit of humanity towards others. Even though who act like they’ve lost their mind. I know that’s a hard act to follow when someone has betrayed you or talked about you or is just plain acting ugly! But our African family (particularly in southern Africa — South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi) understand the importance of waking up each morning, prepared to see the humanity in brothers and sisters. Ubuntu.
We remember that the imago dei—created in the image of God— does not just apply to me or to you. It applies to others as well. We must remember that.
A hard love. But a necessary Love. Ubuntu.

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To make a tax-deductible donation to the South Africa Mission & Study Trip, please go to www.bit.ly/WrightFund.  As a token of appreciation, you will receive a 5 page PDF entitled, How to Read a Book a Week (or More) which will help you succeed with all of your non-fiction reading materials for work, school, and much more!  The PDF gift will be sent to the email you use to make your electronic donation.  My deadline is Tuesday, November 14th!  Let’s go to South Africa and make a difference!

The Insanity of Leadership

Every morning when I wake up there is something new that prompts me to ask the question, “Can we plummet any lower in the eyes of the world?” I say “we” because, unfortunately, most of us are United States Citizens and as citizens, we are indeed a part of this state of affairs. Which is why we cannot remain silent. We must remain active and vocal. Why? Because we are a part of this country. I used to say that we must not remain silent in the face injustice. But now it’s not just injustice and inequality. It’s insanity. It’s something beyond my understanding and the understanding of most people who possess a reasonably sound mind.

There’s a scripture that comes to mind. In the 4th Chapter of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar is wandering around on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon. And he begins talking to no one in particular (often the first sign of insanity!) He says “Is this not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”[1]  He says this even though he has come to recognize that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is the true sovereign God when they survive being thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden man-made idol. (If anyone doesn’t know the story of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, see Daniel Chapter 3.) But here in Chapter 4, as soon as Nebuchadnezzar utters the self-serving words that attribute the wealth of the kingdom to his own might,  the Lord removes everything from him and Nebuchadnezzar is driven away.

What caught my attention, however, is verse Daniel 4:36 when after being driven away, Nebuchadnezzar says “At that time my sanity was restored…..”[2] Wow!  Nebuchadnezzar is admitting that thinking that his wealth, glory, and power were because of his might was insane! He is confessing that he was literally out of his mind and suffering from insanity and delusions to think that the grandeur around him was a result of his power and authority!

But let’s go back to the 3rd Chapter of Daniel.  Remember Nebuchadnezzar commanded the people to worship the golden man-made image. Worshipping idols and images are sure ways that unbalanced leaders get certain people to kowtow. Because many people love relating to images and symbols rather than values and ideals. If we begin to consider the importance and significance of the values and principles behind the symbols then we would not get so caught up in the symbol itself. (e.g., an American Flag which is supposed to symbolize the values of justice, freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness vs. the American flag as an object). It’s insane!

It’s interesting to note that even though the last thing Nebuchadnezzar did was to regain his sanity and be restored to his throne, we remember him for making a golden image and demanding that the entire province bow down and worship the image.  We remember Nebuchadnezzar for throwing three Hebrew brothers into a fiery furnace.  We don’t remember the last words in Daniel 4 which let us know that an insane man regained his sanity. At times like this, I wonder what history will remember about the man who currently leads our country? Will sanity ever prevail?


[1] Emphasis added, NIV Translation
[2] Emphasis added, NIV Translation

Blood and Soil

Genesis 4:8-11

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Jars containing the soil from lynching sites across the American South. Each bottle has the name of the victim, when known, and the site. I took this photo on 2/21/2017 at the Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL)

The following sermon was delivered on Sunday, August 13, 2017 at the St. Matthew’s Baptist Church of Harlem, Harlem, NY.  It was a response to the terrorist incidents in Charlottesville, VA on Friday evening, August 11th and Saturday, August 12, 2017

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Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. ( Genesis 4:8-11, NRSV)

 

By now we’ve all seen the pictures, the videos, the footage detailing the white supremacists marching on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. No longer are these racist supremacists using the tactics and tools of their ancestors. They no longer need hoods and wooden torches while riding horses. Today in 2017, they ride up in their SUV’s, pull out their Tiki Torches purchased in bulk at Walmart and brazenly march and terrorize while declaring their rights as white citizens and demanding that all others go back to where they came from. The mindset is the same, but the tactics have changed. In the words of the late Walter Leonard, who was president of Fisk University, Jim Crow isn’t dead, he’s just changed his name to James Crow, Esquire.[1] Jim Crow, aka James Crow, Esq. is more sophisticated, more savvy. James Crow, Esq. is more technologically advanced with websites and chat rooms. Able to navigate the lobbyists of this country and to spend money and PAC funds for their own self-interests. And so yesterday, James Crow, Esq, and his white nationalists and supremacists buddied marched and chanted “White Lives Matter”, “Jews Will Not Replace Us” and “Unite the Right”. One slogan or chant stood out to me, however. One week ago, it would not have meant much to me, but upon hearing the white terrorists chant Blood and Soil over, it hit me hard due to a book I am currently reading entitled Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, by Kelly Brown Douglas. In her remarkable and powerful book, Douglas introduces the reader to the makings of the Anglo-Saxon myth. The makings of the Anglo-Saxon myth date back to the year 98 when the Roman historian Tacitus published Germania and spills over into the so-called founding of the United States of America with such “founding fathers” as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. In his brief work, Tacitus commended the Germans of that day (Anglo Saxons) for their brave and strong moral character, their fierce blue eyes and red hair and their racial purity.[2] Out of this reverence for the Anglo-Saxons came an understanding of the importance of land and their perceived inherent right to occupy (or stand ground) on that land. The Anglo Saxon believed in the sanctity of their blood. In other words, the perceived Anglo-Saxon’s superior capacity for morality was not an accident; they believed it was in their blood – literally – in their DNA. Morality and the instinct for freedom were thought to flow through Anglo-Saxon veins and that their instinct for liberty was genetic being passed down through generations. They felt that they were chosen, because of the supposed sanctity of their bloodline. The perceived purity of their bloodline was paramount to their existence as a people. This notion, this Western notion brought over to this country after pushing Native Indigenous People from their land was stoked by religious reformers that we learned about in grade school as Pilgrims and (more…)

Why I Prayed for Senator John McCain

In Where Have All The Prophets Gone?: Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in America Marvin A. McMickle writes:

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired from a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court in order to care for her husband, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Upon news of her announcement, (Pat) Robertson posted a prayer on his web site and invited his 700 Club TV viewers to “pray for more vacancies on the court.” ….. “Take control, God! We ask for additional vacancies on the court.” Considering the fact that all federal judges serve lifetime appointments there is only one way that God could answer the prayers of Robertson and his followers—either severe infirmity (or that of a loved one) or death. The idea of his praying for vacancies when death or disease are the only ways by which such a prayer could be answered leads one to wonder about the fact that Pat Robertson and other conservative evangelical Christians call themselves pro-life. Shall we, in the name of our Christian faith, pray for the death or debilitating condition of federal judges in order to advance whatever may be our social agenda? Where have all the prophets gone?

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            Upon recently hearing that Republican Senator John McCain was undergoing brain surgery for cancer, I suggested on my Facebook page that we pray for Senator McCain. I have rarely agreed with McCain, but under the circumstances, I felt compelled to offer prayer. Perhaps it was my own recent surgery where cancer was detected, leading to a hospital stay longer than initially anticipated. I mean, nothing will jar you like coming face to face with an incurable illness.   I had no doubt, that beyond a miracle (and I do believe in miracles) that John McCain would continue to hold fast with his position to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. Numerous bi-partisan organizations, nonprofits, healthcare organizations, and professionals, including the Economic Policy Institute, state that the repeal of the ACA would ensure that over 29 million Americans would lose health insurance. For conservatives, particularly Christians who claim to be pro-life, a vote against the ACA is not only the height of hypocrisy but a death knoll for millions who will lose their insurance and succumb to physical and mental health challenges, drug addition and overdoses, which are all too-often tied to treatable mental health diseases.

But back to my prayer for Senator McCain, who on Tuesday, July 25th voted against healthcare for over 29 million Americans.   Some have said on various social media platforms that praying for John McCain was counter to a theology of liberation and the oppression of white supremacy that we fight against. I say that praying for the healing of an individual does not impede our ability to pray and fight for justice, liberation and the overthrow of systems of racism, poverty, mass incarceration, gender inequity and other systems designed to defeat the marginalized in our society. Indeed when we pray for the healing of others, particularly those who are “against us”, we pray for worthy opponents. Muhammed Ali never wanted George Foreman to be sick in the ring. He would never have been the Greatest without a worthy opponent. Serena Williams would never wish Belinda Bencic or Lucie Šafárová or Johanna Konta would play with a fractured wrist. She would never really be the greatest without a worthy opponent. And we should never stoop to the level of Pat Robertson, who prayed for an opening on the Supreme Court—that a judge or his/her loved one would either be inflicted with a severe infirmity or that the judge or loved one would die. No. I am not afraid of a worthy opponent!

It’s taken me a long time to say that I would pray for someone like Senator John McCain whose policies I feel are deadly. I don’t know if I would have offered up prayer last year or even earlier this year. But I believe in worthy opponents because I serve a worthy God. The Greatest of All Time.

In the words of Rev. Dr. Deborah D. Jenkins (no relation), “There is a clear difference between sincere hope for full recovery for John McCain and having total disdain for the dangerous politics he plays.”

Let’s remember that our job as people of God is to continue to offer up our prophetic voices against the evil and distorted machinations of this world. We are to continue to fight the fight and to do so with every fiber in our beings—with words, with our feet, with our bodies, with our minds, with our strategies, with our lobbying—with every fiber in our beings. But let us not forget that we are children of God, joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. While we pray for worthy opponents, remember that we serve The Greatest of All Time! God the undefeated champion! Stay on the battlefield folk…. I smell victory….just stay on the battlefield!

The Freedom To Refuse

….because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really— who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us….But we refused to give in to them for a single moment…. [Galatians 2:4-5 NLT)

There’s been a lot of talk about resisting the social and political structures that are currently in place. Many people have awakened to realize that many of the policies that benefit and protect the lives of them and their loved ones are in jeopardy. As a result of folk suddenly being awakened to the splintering of their previously complacent reality, new alliances are being formed, people are mobilizing and the rallying cry has become embodied in the all-too familiar hashtag #resist. But on this day where we celebrate the independence of what Maya Angelou coined as the These Yet to be United States of America, we would do well to not simply resist, but to refuse.

According to Dictionary.com resist means to withstand the action or effect of something. The word refuse, however, means something entirely different. The word refuse means to indicate or express a determination that one is not willing to do or accept something. The difference is significant because the former means that although a resistance is performed, the object of the resistance still exists and functions. It means that we will stand and survive even in the face of that which we are resisting. And that’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong.

However, when we refuse, it means that we indicate (show, display, demonstrate) that we are not willing to do something. And not only do we indicate our unwillingness to go along with what is wrong, but we act (or refuse to act) based upon our unwillingness. (more…)

How Not To Get Played 101

WASHINGTON, D.C. - FEBRUARY 28: U.S. President Donald Trump signed the HBCU Executive Order to support Black Colleges and Universities in the Oval Office of the White House,on February 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. The executive order moves an initiative to assist the Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Education Department back to the White House. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

Ok. Class is in session. One plus one equals two. Two plus two equals four. If it quacks, it’s a duck. If it barks, it’s a dog. If it has orange hair, lies consistently, mocks the physically challenged, incites violence, displays racist, xenophobic, misogynistic behavior and is an unbelievably narcissistic bag of wind which has no command of the English language and even less decorum, embarrassing the United States in front of the entire world, then it is definitely a misplaced commander in chief who is not to be trusted because he has already proven who he is.  Remember, if it quacks like a….. anyway. You get it. Even though those with far more degrees than most of us clearly did not get it.

The fact that the president of Morehouse College, one of our most esteemed institutions of higher learning came out and admitted that he and the other HBCU (Historically Black College and University) presidents “got played” by Trump is an embarrassment that I would never admit. Why? Because once we saw you guys grinning with Forty-Five, all bets were off. We knew you had just gotten played. We were already wondering, “What in the world are they doing?” “Have they lost their mind?” “Have they no pride?” No, as soon as the photo-op was done and Omarosa told y’all the fried chicken and Kool-aid was down the hall waiting, y’all should have made your way back to your campuses and shut your office doors in repentance. And you should have NEVER, NEVER brought up this sad, sorry debacle again. But you did. You said, “We got played.” Like WE needed a teacher and a classroom to tell us this.

Is this what we want our young people to emulate? That we are so doggone needy that we need to shuck and jive our way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and beg for crumbs we know we won’t get anyway. And even if you DID get an extra crumb or two, is it worth your pride? Is it worth your dignity? Where is your self-respect? Is it worth the strings attached and the ropes hung to whatever prize you thought you would have gotten? What a sad day when we see educators, those individuals who we trust with the nurturing and growth of our young people—who we trust with the molding of their minds, display such a hungry zeal for crumbs from the master’s table. We need educators who will teach our young people how to lift up their prophetic voices and address evil in high places, systemic racism, the industrial prison complex and injustice in this world. The late Rev. William Augustus Jones, who pastored the Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn said that we cannot offer up a prophetic voice of protest and if we are eating the king’s meat. Further, my own late pastor, who I grew up listening to as a little girl attending the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Queens would say, “How can we say we’re free of white folk, if we go begging to the government…..we must do for ourselves with our own money. Even if we don’t solve all of the problems, we must maintain our dignity.” These words of my late pastor, the Rev. Dr. Timothy P. Mitchell continue to reverberate in my spirit decades later. We must maintain our dignity. That’s a lesson I will forever cherish. Sign me up for Introduction to The Basics of Dignity. Not How To Get Played 101.