Bible Stories, True or False?

Bible stories are an enigma. Some of them are so intimate, private and personal. Some of them are so extraordinary, hard to believe, supernatural. So many are so alien to life as we know it. And who could have originally accounted for each story? When John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb upon a visit from Jesus’ mother Mary, who recorded that story to be passed on for centuries? When Moses encountered the burning bush, when the Hebrews followed a pillar of fire and smoke, when a touch of Jesus’ robe healed a bleeding woman, who wrote down these things? Who told the story to others? So private, so personal. So hard to believe that they came to be part of a book that we read. I don’t think Jesus told these stories. Was it a disciple? An apostle? Who passed it on? Did leaders in the first churches started by Paul tell these stories in church? Before there was a written record from the Catholic Church? So many questions, so many unanswered doubts. The Bible stories are so foreign to life as we know it today. How could they have really happened? Isn’t it more likely that they were made up to enhance the power of the church over its followers? And the synagogue over its faithful people? Other religions have stories that we assume are just literature made up by followers of a religion to give power to their leaders. Why don’t Christians believe the same thing about their own religious books? Is it too terrifying to consider that these stories could be false, made up, simply literature to build up a myth?

Aunt Jemima Controversy Explained

The new name for Aunt Jemima is Pearl Milling Company. They are starting to switch everything over now, but the old label is still on some products for sale. The picture of the black woman character will be retired.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Jemima?wprov=sfti1

The brand basically exploited the blackface Mammy character of the motherly house slave that was popular in vaudeville. Not the best symbol. Have you ever read the autobiography of Malcolm X? Or seen the Spike Lee movie starring Denzel Washington? It’s really about a subconscious denigration of black women linked to their social position in slavery and later as housekeepers. White people used their power to institutionalize their social, economic and sexual position in society at the loss of black women. It may not offend most people because it’s so ingrained in our culture for black people, and especially black women, to be uneducated servants. It is a long history and there are still parts of the underbelly of our society in which it still rings true.

The history serves as an excuse and strength of argument and social attraction of black social and political groups like the Nation of Islam, which was in its heyday in the 1960s under Malcolm X. You should see the movie. It’s very entertaining, not to mention educating. The book is great too, written with Alex Haley, who wrote Roots. The controversy is not about who buys the product. It’s about the fact that a certain part of the population has been exploited and abused and a negative stereotype was used at their expense. It’s just wrong to use a name and likeness of a figure like “Aunt Jemima” to make money. It’s a part of the past that is shameful to all races and should be discouraged and put away to only learn from.

A Reflection on Juneteenth

Crimes unimaginable

Sins unfathomable

Wrongs not righted

With an apology,

A soft word,

Or the stroke of a pen.

Pain to the deepest parts

Of the heart and soul,

The very fiber of one’s being,

A wound that doesn’t heal,

But rather cuts deeper

With every smile,

Every handshake,

On every pay day,

Every trip to the grocery store,

Every night at mealtime,

When they look at their children,

When they look at ours.

Privilege continues

Despite the lip service,

Despite the promises,

Amidst the meager gifts,

The dregs of easy charity

From the tatters of a bursting purse,

The guilt trip laid on thick

To the middle class and even

The working poor.

Those that lack for food,

Clothing or shelter,

Living barely day to day,

Not knowing where one’s next

Meal will come from.

And at the church the preacher

Says try harder, pray more,

Save your dollars

So you can send your little ones

To a good college,

Make them study,

Keep them out of trouble,

Tell them you love them,

That you’re proud of them

For that report card.

What do you say

When the white kid

Calls them the n-word?

What do you say

When you don’t have a job

Because you refused

To kiss your supervisor’s butt

When he would talk to you

Like you were nothin’,

Just a cog in his machine,

A disposable, replaceable,

Optional, neglectable,

Insultable, disrespected,

Used, abused, tossed out

To the street

Like so much garbage,

Black man?

Power

Wrong meets right.

The fight is strong.

Laugh, they will.

Cry out, they must.

Shout, at the top of their lungs—

Justice must prevail.

So many innocent lives

Have been crushed by the fist

Of the oppressor!

So many suffer

Because of the greed

And the arrogance

Of the powerful.

The powerful?

Who is powerful?

What is power?

Don’t you know that

The wind has changed course

On this hot, dry day.

The wind! The water!

The earth! The animals!

The birds! The insects!

The trees! Yes, even the trees!

Look at an old oak tree,

And tell me about power!

Look at a rushing stream,

And tell me about power!

Watch a lion kill its prey,

And tell me about power!

Is a gun, power?

In the hands of a six year old, a gun is just as powerful as in the hands of a grown man!

A gun is just a tool.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it useful.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it powerful.

And when a thousand voices scream,

That’s power!

When the people speak as one,

That’s power!

Don’t be afraid.

Be excited!

Be joyful!

Be glad!

For power has come to the people,

And they will not be denied this moment.

They have prayed,

And they have worked,

And they have suffered

For this moment.

Listen to the wind blow

Through the trees!

Justice has come like a mighty rush of wind,

And anything that’s old, anything that’s weak,

Anything that’s not tied down tight,

Is gonna blow away!

Those old tricks, old ways,

Cowardly words, weak attitudes,

Straw men beware!

The wind of justice has come to blow you…

Away!

Mercy

Alone, but not alone.

God waits behind the curtain–

Or is it I that wait on God?

We wait on each other, then,

In a sort of waltz together,

Taking one step forward,

And one step back,

Rotating in circles,

Never completely meeting.

Oh, how my heart yearns

To connect to the holy one!

Like a child yearns

To be held by its mother,

So I crave the loving arms

Of my Creator.

My prayers of desperation

Fall down into the abyss.

My prostrate body

Aches with loneliness and pain

Of rejection and betrayal.

I must continue

To remain faithful,

But my soul is so weary.

How my enemies mock me,

Lord of All, please,

Be merciful.

Courageous Relationships (link to video)

www.saintpaulsumc.org/sermon/new-places-for-new-people-courageous-relationships/

Click on the above link to view a sermon by Rev. Dr. Kandace Brooks in which she challenges her congregation to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to others, to ask for help or to be of help, specifically to the mentally ill, suicidal, etc.

In the Presence of Everything

Are you the hand

That I shake in the pew,

Or on my way out the door,

To the parking lot?

Are you the presence,

In the plate and cup,

Upon the altar,

That is given for me to consume?

Are you the dirty, scarred face,

Of an abused, homeless woman,

Begging on the street,

Around the corner from the grocery store?

Are you the gentle face and eager voice

Of the elderly man

Who comes to my front door,

Struggling to use an iPad to show a video?

Are you the pastor at the soup kitchen,

Who tells me the administrative position

I’m interviewing for requires someone

Who can shmooze with the volunteers?

Are you the book with all the stories

Spoken a long, long time ago,

Written a long time ago,

For people who lived a long time ago?

If so, I’m wondering:

What is your name? Who am I

In relation to you?

Why do you appear differently to all?

I’d like to pin you down,

Put your number and your address

In my contact list.

I’d like to feel you.

I know that’s not how you operate,

If you did, you wouldn’t be God,

Or would you?

Sometimes I wonder.

Connections

Did you, too?

Have you been there?

Do you, really?

Thank you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’M here.

This is work.

I want to get better.

I wish I could sleep.

I sleep too much.

I’m ready to commit to that.

I’m ready to quit.

I trust you.

Thank you for being there for me.

A Light

A light twinkles

In the distance;

It is my hope,

Fragile, yet strong.

Will a big gust of wind

Blow out my candle?

I am protected

By many walls:

Meds, doctors,

Counselors, family,

Friends and helpers.

That gust of wind

Can blow if it must,

But my light will not

Be extinguished.

I will use

The tools I’ve been given.

I will continue the struggle,

And I will win.

Strong

Experience.

A light bulb turns on.

Words flow like breathing.

Comfortable.

Fellow warriors

Keeping each other company.

Along for the ride,

Together.

Be there for you,

Whenever you need someone.

Any time, any place.

Trust me.

I’ll hold out a light

So you can see your way.

Brothers and sisters

Of mental illness.

Strong.