Archive for the ‘ Famiy ’ Category

Giving Thanks,Together: A Prayer for Unity

Turkeys being dressed this eve
Norman Rockwell table setting
Families sitting elbow to elbow
Gestures preparing the moment

Conversations link to yesterdays
A time when time was breathing
Prayerful celebrations of thanks
Snapshots of where it all began

Empty chairs of of lost feelings
Ceilings echoing voices passed
Nodding dreams sleeping away
A photographic gallery of family

A season of trimming windows
Window shopping for a purpose
Finding quality in mere quantity
Lighting roof lines with promise

Hands to chin mosaic reflections
Colored fragments, introspections
Framed into a thanksgiving feast
Humanity harvesting a collection

A symposium of what is worthy
Where humility should find rest
A monumental gesture of prayer
Putting each member to the test

It is not in the fare of the harvest
Where Thanksgiving finds her heart
It is in the careful considerations
That every human has their part

Let nothing divide family meaning
As a house on sand will not stand
It is in the foundations of God’s love
Where thankful hearts will understand

Thanksgiving is the grace of understanding
That together we can provide provisions
For a world longing to know the true meaning
Of the First Thanksgiving, a prayer for unity

Kathy Paysen 2009

Thank you to my friend Bob Henry who made me aware of this poem.

Interracial Injustice

What is this 1967?

A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

. . . Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

. . .  Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

Read more

This article simple astounded me, not solely because of the interracial marriage issue but because of the nuances and details of the issue.

One the one hand, we have a loving man and woman who want to get married. This is the story of millions of individuals and additionally many interracial couples – I was included in this when I was married.  This couple must have simply been blindsided.  When I was in high school I dated a girl who was euro-American (white) and her step-father had some issues with our relationship,  a couple years ago when I was married to my wife Alyssa there were some minor issues with my wife’s – who is Taiwnese-American – family. But those were unfortunately expected.

What occurred in Louisiana couldn’t have been expected. A governmental agent said “no”. Although he qualified and says that “I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it” he is basically thwarting the law. Somehow he has been able to let his personal preference to usurp law.  This situation is simply ridiculous, but what do we take from this, what insight does it give us?

1. Mis-conception of interracial difficulty -

It is interesting that the justice of the peace mentioned the difficulty of the children. This is an age old argument against interracial marriage. It is predicated on assuming that difficulty – if present – is a bad thing and that difficulty will occur in the first place. And although this was a white man saying this – which includes issues of power/history etc. – this sentiment is held by those of all races who oppose interracial marriage.  But this is somewhat of a straw man argument.  Few, is any, proponents of interracial marriage hinge and argument on the difficulty or lack of difficulty in an interracial relationship. Most individuals who enter into interracial marriages are quite aware of the societal push backs (i.e. my wife and I know that groups of black women and groups of Asian men are prone to stare, un-lovingly, at us ). The assumption that someone is protecting the children by opposing interracial marriage is pretty naive , especially given the emergence of multi-racial figure such as Obama, Tiger Woods, Heinz Ward, Jessica Alba, Keanu Reeves etc. Futhurmore it is patronizing and suggest that those getting married don’t care about their children. Again, this is not a white issue it is an issue for folks in various cultures and racial backgrounds.

2. White American individualism -

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

There is no better example than this. First, the comment that he is not racist. There is a difference between being a racist and doing something racist. And this was the latter. I don’t know this man, he may not be a person who is wholly racist, but this act was racist. He and we as a society must address that. Second, claiming that “I have black friends”. This is often a way that white individuals push back. White Americans often  individualize (Divided By Faith). This issue of race, including interracial marriage, is not solely a person to person issue it is a societal issue as well. Individualizing it devalues the societal impacts. It is a both/and nor either/or issue.

3. The importance of slowing assumptions -

I can read this ans assume that this justice of the peace doesn’t like Black people. I can even read into his defense and understand the context of where he is living and assume he has issues with Black folk.

But that would be wrong of me.

This man probably spoke reality when he said folks in BOTH Black and white communities wouldn’t be accepting; in Louisiana – in many states – many from both groups may have issues.  His folly was not having some concern – though he should have kept it to himself – but it was in refusing to marry the couple and various others in the past.  We have to take this issue at that level. No more and no less.

Future.

For myself, a man who is inter-racially married to a Taiwanese American woman and who has siblings, in-laws and cousins who are, Phillipina, Mexican-American, Euro-American, African-American, and bi-racial mixes of all of these, this picture of President Obama and his Chinese-American niece,  affirms both the validity and beauty of my family.

Beautiful Togetherness

Sf Gate

The Rev. George Cummings looked out over his congregation in the Laurel District of Oakland and saw white faces sitting next to black ones. Piedmonters sat next to Oaklanders.One of the most intractable racial divides in America – the self-segregation of churches – was being bridged before his eyes.

“The God who calls us to be together, calls us to oneness,” said Cummings, pastor of Imani Community Church.

“Amen,” said someone in the crowd.

“We are not always there yet, but we are on our way,” said Cummings, who is black.

“That’s right,” said another voice from the pews.

Cummings’ church and Piedmont Community Church decided that they would come together as one people. They will worship together periodically. They’ve started to mix into each others’ Bible studies. Their choirs sing together. Their children have gone on a mission trip together to Tijuana. On Sunday, May 3 and May 17, they had ceremonies affirming their covenant with each other.

Piedmont Community Church is predominantly white, as much as Imani is black. They are only 10 minutes apart by car, yet before this relationship began, neither pastor had been to the neighborhood of the other’s church. All sides see bridging the divide as bearing fruit. Read More

My heart was blessed by this article. Seeing the Kingdom of God uniting and overcoming racial/ethnic barriers is satisfying to my soul. What is wonderful about this situation is the fact that churches are literally 10 minutes from one another, thus the potential for collaboration and eventually integration is there. I am sure that if they decided to integrate permanently there will be culture collisions, but those tensions would be growth pangs that lead one another towards Godliness.

Shallow differences of style and preference often get in the way of us being true community together.

One of the congregation members made a wonderful comment to bookend this article.

Jan Hunter, an Imani member, said doing the right thing sometimes means feeling uncomfortable. A few years ago, the Imani congregation christened the child of a lesbian couple. It was a first for many in the congregation.

“I don’t know what we thought was going to happen,” said Hunter, 54, who is black. “Everyone was happy. Lightning did not strike.”

She said it was probably uncomfortable for some to worship with people they’d had prejudices about – in both directions. But, she said, “You have to start somewhere.”

“Doing the right thing sometimes means feeling uncomfortable”; simple and profound. We are a comfort seeking culture one of the ways this is manifested is the continued racial and socioeconomic segregation of our churches (and neighborhoods).

One of the most important elements of this article is that these are old churches. They aren’t church plants by young folks who see the need for multi-cultural congregations. While new plants are beneficial, there is something rich in reconciliation when churches change directions and acknowledge the ills of their separation. These two churches have histories, they existed for years. The fact that they are willing to understand the biblical call for unity, acknowledge the social rift between ethnicities and humble themselves is simply incredible.

I am encouraging my church to participate in this type of relationship. We live approximately 30 minutes from any church that is not predominately white,  so whatever relationship we form will not be one that leads to one integrated local church. But, racial reconciliation between Christians can most definitely be done . Churches can learn to worship and serve with those “different from them”, understand the needs of different communities and become a larger body of Christ.

Huntington, Indiana has a dark racial history and although things have changed there are mutual negative perceptions between he minority communities in Fort Wayne , Marion, and Huntington.  If something can occur it will not only mend the brokenness with the church, but within our communities.

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


Mosaix Global Network

This is a great resource for anyone wanting to cultivate a multi-ethnic congregation.

Confessions

As a lover of hip-hop and and one who has been deeply impacted by Christian Rap, especially the efforts of Cross Movement Records (CMR) , this announcement from CMR hits close to the heart.

CMR’s Ambassador Statement

Dear   Body of Christ,

It is with much grief, severe disappointment and an overwhelming fear of the Lord that Cross Movement Records is sad to announce that we will be discontinuing the forwarding and promotion of the Artist and Minister, The Ambassador AKA William “Duce” Branch, due to recent findings of moral failure in his marriage.  It is CMR’s past, current and prayerfully, future position that living in moral compromise is unacceptable and never allowable in the lives of any of the ministers that we co-labor with.   We continue to hold up the teachings of Christ as the standard for all Christians and especially those in Christian leadership and public ministry.  Although it is a rare find these days, discipline is still one of the true marks of the true Church.

That being said, we also know according to Hebrews 12:6 that “whom The Lord loves He disciplines.”  So we know that our beloved brother Duce is under the Lord’s loving care (Hebrews 12:5-11).  We at CMR solicit your prayers for him as he begins the uphill climb of restoration through the process of repentance.  We also ask that you remember his wife and children in your quiet time with our Lord as well.  We are reminded by Galatians 6:1, that we are to work toward the restoration of our dear brother in due season and also to do such in the spirit of meekness, considering ourselves lest we also be tempted.

Lastly, some that have had this circumstance announced to them through other sources have begun to suggest some type of cover-up or a sweeping under the carpet by CMR because of a slight delay in this statement versus the announcement that has already happened in William Branch’s church.  This is the farthest thing from the truth.  This matter was unbeknownst to CMR and upon discovery we have taken the proper time to speak with the Lord, The Ambassador, his church leadership and many other Christian leaders regarding this issue.  After seeking wisdom and allowing the appropriate amount of time to make sure we had all the issues in full consideration, we have come forward as quickly as we were able to after completing this process.

In conclusion, we apologize for the effect that this may have on many who have followed and supported The Ambassador, Cross Movement and Cross Movement Records for many years.  Despite this unfortunate occurrence, CMR and all of its artist/ministers continue committed, our resolve unaffected, with the mission of making the message of the Cross known to the world.  Again, we ask for your prayers as we keep our hands to the plow, heal our wounded and worship the God of our Salvation.  We remain Christ’s and your servant.

Sincerely,

John Wells

Pres/CEO

Cross Movement Records/ Issachar Media

As I mentioned in a comment on The Old Black Church blog. I appreciate the way CMR has dealt with this issue – assuming the Duce was okay making this information public beyond his personal circle. I appreciated CMR’s tactful protection of Duce by framing the issue as “moral failure in his marriage”. CMR did two things that I think properly represent what Christian discipline is supposed to look like.

1 – CMR confronted this issue. It would have been easy for CMR to simply ignore this issue and allow Duce to continue to make music and for his album to be released. Sin is often downgraded in our Christian culture, but CMR decided the act Biblical and call Duce’s transgression what is was and to remove him from a place of authority. I know some may find it wrong that he is being put on “blast”, but we are to call out the sin our of brothers and there is, seemingly, no mal-intent on the part of CMR. Also, I don’t feel that CMR wrote this letter to protect themselves. Their ambiguity seems to be an effort to be honest about the situation without revealing the personal issues that are in play.

2 – CMR is loving Duce.  If CMR is upholding what they wrote in this statement they have realized that God loves sinners and that there is room for redemption and reconciliation not only from Sin, but from our individuals sins. The approach seems to have the intention of helping Duce deal with his sin, growing back into a right marital relationship and growing closer to God.

As with any issue like this, I only now so much, but my prayers are with all impacted.

Especially Duce and his family.

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