May 10, 2011

Behold The Bride-Groom Cometh!!!!

Have you ever been so familiar with something that you really didn’t look at it with close inspection? Have you ever had that moment when you saw something in a different light, and then wondered why you had never seen it that way before? 


Well I had one of those moments today. I am sure that some of my readers will have the same level of excitement about this as I, and I am sure that some will not like it at all. But to all, I write with peace and grace.


My entire life, being raised in a Pentecostal–Holiness church, I heard about the hope of believers in the return of Jesus Christ for the Church.  The Church is understood to be the Bride of Christ. Matthew 25:6 stirred up expectation in every believer.


At the same time, it was completely understood that leadership in ministry was for men only. There was no place for women in ordained leadership. Women were encouraged and even expected to work tirelessly for the ministry with their gifts and talents, but only in supporting role capacities.


There was no denying that women could handle most of the task that take place in the local church, doing everything from cooking meals to serving meals, to cleaning after the meals were finished, to preparing the programs, ushering and passing out the programs,  and being on the program, to designing the choir robes to singing in the choir in the choir robes. 


As a matter of fact, when the church observed the sacrament of communion, in the days long before the prepackaged communion portions, it was, and still is, the women who prepare the sacred table for the Lord’s Supper. As the service transitioned to the observance of the Holy Sacrament of Communion, it was a woman, a Mother of the Church,  who read I Corinthians 11: 23-34. While she was reading, the women did everything that needed to be done during this sacred time of the service. But when it was actually time to serve the communion to the congregation, in my church, this could only be done by an ordained elder and only men were ordained.


As a child, I never gave this reality much thought. But as I got into my early twenties, the analytical side of my being started to develop. It was then that I began to wonder why it was that women could prepare the food for before and after the service and touch everybody’s plate in serving food to church members,  friends, and family. But suddenly when we were observing the most sacred piece of cracker and grape juice, suddenly the women who had put it on the plate and in the little cups were not allowed to serve it to the congregation of believers – the same believers that they would serve chicken dinners to any other time.


A decade later I would learn about the debate between substantiation and transubstantiation. Ok, fine, but my denomination’s stance on the Eucharist is that of Zwingli, that the elements of the table do not change in essence but symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ. So what does gender really have to do with who serves the Last Supper to the congregation? 


Well moving right along,-------  I began work to wrap my brain around how God really felt about women. Ended up getting a Liberal Arts degree in Religious Studies from taking classes just to learn and understand about God and Religion. I know that a lot of men are chauvinists, some know they are and others have no idea that they are, but still the truth remains. I just don’t believe that God is a chauvinist.


Now years after graduate school (seminary), having read a lot of theological works and a few on feminist theology, and a few on liberation theology, I still in my own self wonder why the issue of women in ministry is such a hard thing for the church, not just my denomination, but for many denominations to accept?


At the same time, that women are being told that they now can excel in the corporate world, the church is saying that you shouldn’t do that in an ecclesiastical setting. Why does the church encourage women to excel at mediocrity?  I kept wondering why was God calling women to the ministry, only to have them face being ostracized by many Christian denominations. In my own struggle to understand, I kept wondering why the church treated all women as if they were equal. I mean, every woman is not called to leadership in the church, just as every woman is not called to run a secular corporation, every woman is not a great cook, every woman is not a great seamstress, etc.


Each woman has her own unique gifts and talents. Women vary just as much as everything else n God’s creation. It is dehumanizing to assume that there is no difference or distinction on how God created each woman unique and to God’s own liking. This would be the reason that wives are not interchangeable.  Why have so many women become ecclesiastically docile? Hear me when I say being respectful and docile are two completely different things.  A woman is to submit to her own husband, not every man in the world. Seriously, who wants their wife or daughter obeying the thoughts of any and every man? That is a dangerous thought process at best.


I have watched so many women who are movers and shakers in their career become mousy and ashamed in a church setting. Which manifestation is the truly God given identity, and what would God have them use their ability to accomplish for the kingdom of God, if they were liberated to serve God to full capacity?


I am sure by now, if you know your bible, you have your list of scriptures ready to reply to what I am saying…… I know them all. I was raised hearing them.


Ok, so you are asking, if I know about the scriptures concerning women being silent in church, then what is the point of my writing.  Glad you asked. Now I can tell you.


First of all, I am not calling for women to disrupt the worship service of their local church. But if you truly believed that women should be silent in church, why are they allowed to do ANYTHING during the service or in the sanctuary for that matter? If you want women to be silent in church, then why are they singing in your choir and on your praise team? Last I heard, you cant sing silently…….and no one has ever mentioned us all going outside when it was time for a woman to sing. And what about the announcements?  In most churches, it is a woman who reads the announcements. So shouldn’t she be reading them silently?


The truth is that both in the world and in the church, it takes both men and women working together to accomplish the furtherance of the Gospel. There are certain things that each of us does well regardless of gender.


But let us future forward to the day when Christ will return for the Church. It is like this – on the wedding day the bride must be ready for the groom. We all know this in the natural. The bible gives us some insight into the expectations for the Bride of Christ, ‘without spot or wrinkle’.  The Church must not only be well prepared for the return of Christ, but there is a lot of attention given to detail. Everything is prepared. 


I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before now. I guess it was not time…. I am sure that this understanding is all about timing, not my timing but God’s timing.


As a child is growing up, a lot of people impart into the growing life and mind. The mother or grandmother or some mother figure is the first teacher that a child has in the world. Both males and females learn from her.  As a female approaches the age of marriage, some of the knowledge she will need must come from a female in her life.  Both men and women have been a part of her learning and preparation throughout life. But on the wedding day, a lot of preparation that has taken place over time is manifested in the moment that the bride is presented to the groom.  Most of that preparation was done long in advance of that actual wedding day, but all comes together on the wedding day.


 As the Bride of Christ is getting ready to be joined with Christ at his return, everything must be made ready.  The bride must be ready, and a man can’t dress a bride.  Not even the father of the bride, who has protected her from all danger, participates in her dressing for the wedding. When she is ready, the father will present her to the groom. But the father leaves the preparation and dressing of the bride to women. So why wouldn’t the Almighty God entrust women with preparing the Bride of Christ.


It takes a woman to see the revealed body and to prepare it and adorn it to meet the groom. A women, who is attentive to every little wrinkle that might go un-noticed, or to find the spot that might be hidden in an un-obvious location.  It takes a woman to give the attention to detail need to make sure that everything is as best as it can be for the presentation of the Bride to her Groom.


The church is made up of both men and women, serving and growing in relationship with God. As we approach the time that the Bride of Christ but be prepared to meet Him when He come, God is selecting those whom God has equipped for the last attention to details as needed. Women in Ministry have been called by God to dress the Bride of Christ. Let us make ready for soon we shall hear, with expectation the proclamation, “Behold the Bride-Groom cometh”.

May 2, 2011

Birther Fiasco = Attempted Political Genocide

Here we are, well into President Obama’s term in office, and this rumor that actually surfaced during the primaries some years ago seem to have built steam and come back to life – with help of Donald Trump.  The ‘Birthers’ are a group of people
who question the legitimacy of President Obama based on whether or not he was born in the U.S.

This irritates me for a couple of reasons, no, correction, for several reasons. I am amazed at how many ‘Born in the USA’ – Americans were not paying attention in Social Studies and/or Political Science, when we learned the requirements AND procedure to become a legitimate candidate for president. There are some prerequisites and a lot of paperwork to fill out,
which has to be submitted and approved long before a name can make it to the ballot.

So, as I watch all of the people who jump on this board with this theory, I know that they were sticking gum on someone’s chair while this was being covered in school. Ok, so let me be a little bit lenient about it, lets not talk about those struggling puberty years when paying attention was hard because of all of the important stuff that was going on socially, but what about now when most everyone has internet and google in their home, on their job, or maybe in hand due to a smartphone. With today’s access to information, anyone who didn’t know the qualifications to run for political office could
still find out whether or not this kind of issue was worthy of a second of mental energy.

But the truth is that most Americans are mentally lazy and want someone to do the thinking and the speaking up for them. Most Americans function with the herd mentality. Why is it so unthinkable to think and discover the truth for one’s self?  There are people who are declaring that ‘Americans need to take their country back’, but what I want to know is take it back from whom, and where was it taken to by who ever took it?  What are they really saying?

Seriously, if President Obama was not qualified to be the leader of this country, wouldn’t someone have put a stop to his candidacy long before well into his term as president? If there were some scandal that would have discredited his candidacy, wouldn’t they have made sure that information made its way to every news outlet long before now? So what is the investment for Donald Trump or anyone else bringing this ‘birther’ issue up now?  It is obviously because the campaigning is about to begin for the next election and this was an attempt to get President Obama out of office before the end of his term, or at best destroy his potential to be elected for a second term.

So why would I call this genocide? Simply because genocide is an attempt to erase not only an individual but an entire ethnic group. If President Obama could successfully be thrown out of office, it would not only require that his presidency be erased from history, but it would also set the stage to discredit any and every future non-WASP seeking the high office of president.

It wasn’t so long ago that a similar methodology took place in the US, so that one who crossed the boundaries would have to become the example that would let all others know that this would be your fate, if you too get out of line, manifested by an ‘I cant stop you, so I need to destroy you’ mentality. And all though, many want to act like lynchings didn’t take place in this country, they did. And although there are many who have never heard of Emmett Till, it did happen. Sadly there are plenty whose names and faces didn’t make the history books as their lives were taken because of the mentality of those who held true to act upon the sentiments of their heart toward the destruction of others, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

So when I see our current president being subjected to challenges of his legitimacy to stand as our president, I have to wonder, what are they really saying, other than they don’t like his policies or what he has done since he has been in office? This is definitely more than an attempt to out campaign the incumbent. This is an attack to discredit his right to lead this country by declaring that he is not American enough to lead America. 

What would make President Obama American enough in their eyes?

What could be changed about President Obama to make him the man that they would proudly accept him as president?

Now that the long form of his birth certificate has been presented, not only to the press, but available online, now what? 

What will be the next attempt to demand that he not go down in history as our first African AND American

Isnt it ironic that with so many Africans brought to this country by force that the president would actually be the child of an African who came to this country of his own free will? It is certain that the sentiments of many regarding certain blends of heritage are present in what is said and what goes unsaid. How do Mitt Romney’s remarks really sound to us?

Lastly, if Donald Trump truly had intentions of becoming our next president or even someone with respect in political circles, why isn’t his energy going towards dealing with his tycoon buddies over in the oil industry, convincing them to help this struggling economy by lowering gas prices at the pump and therefore allowing for more cash flow in the overall economy, which would create economic stability across industries for more than those at the very top?  If Donald Trump or any candidate for that matter, really wants me to take him seriously as a candidate for president, he will have to cut his hair into a normal and reasonable style, and he will have to show that his love for this country is about the lives and economic survival of all Americans.

Should Christians Be Entrepreneurs?

For those of you who know me, this may truly seem to be a rhetorical question, but bear with me as I work through this thought.

Just as an entrepreneur, to be legitimate, must have the proper credentials to work in a geographic region or state, so does any corporation that would hire someone to do the exact same job as an employee of that particular company. In the corporate setting the individual may or may not need to have a license to perform that job. There are many aspects to being an entrepreneur that differ from being a corporate employee, more than I actually care to go into at this time. But it is safe to say that 'it cost to be the boss'. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to invest in your own success or failure.

Now that being said, there are all kinds of people who are capable of performing a specific task or job, who lacks proper training or licensure (what some would call 'boot-leg'). But to truly be defined as an entrepreneur some steps had to be taken to operate or function as a business. For example, as a licensed cosmetologist, I have a license from the state that lets anyone know that I have completed to proper training and met the requirements to have my name on that license. With that license, I have the choice to set up shop for myself or to find a place to work for a business that will allow me to function within the boundaries of my licensure.

As I pondered my heartfelt theological stance on a statement that a friend made, I had to formulate what my stance was on this ideology. Not just as one applicable to business practices, but also as it applies to ministry. It began with hearing someone, who is an entrepreneur repeat what her pastor says regarding those who decide to found or pastor a non-denominational church.  The person I was speaking with made the statement, 'a non-denominational church means they dont want to obey leadership'.

My first instinct was to defend the misconception that all non-denominational churches are not in fellowship with other like-minded ministries/organizations and therefore accountable to that organizations structure. I do realize that most people have been lead to believe that non-denominational churches are all part of some pseudo-christian gypsy like cult.  But the truth is that leaders and churches, do at times, liberate themselves from mainstream denominational obligations for a number of reasons. This does not mean that their ministry is illegitimate or demonic. 

Are there cults out there? Yes.  Are there churches who severed ties with their denomination because they had issues with a  or some of the leaders? Yes.  And there are those who for what ever reason decided that their ministry would function with some level of autonomy, free from the propaganda of denominational politics. All in all, there are many reasons that a church may not be part of denominational affiliation.

Let me be clear, I am not supporting any Jim Jones type situation, but I am saying that there must be some liberty in God. For example, when I was a little girl, I heard a lot of talk about how no one other than those of certain denominations or christian lifestyles would be going to heaven. This kind of talk is hardly ever spoken with the fervor that I recall from back a few decades ago. This seems to have transitioned from an 'if you are aren't with us, your going to hell' mentality to an 'if you arent with some brand name denomination then you must be a treasonous defector of the faith'.  Pastors and churches run the gamut, everything from great to horrible can be found in the mix, but even that is relative to the needs of the people who attend that congregation. We should all be concerned when church becomes the mechanism to destroy people's lives and families, but aside from moral and literal destruction, we should hope and pray that a Christian church will teach true Christian principles regardless of denominational affiliation.

This makes me wonder if Christians are ready to, and truly able to, develop a justification for any type of entrepreneurship. After all, if anyone who is not submitting to the leadership of another is in error, then what does that say to the business entrepreneur? Or is  the entrepreneurial spirit only applicable in business and not appropriate for ministry?  Why is the Church so adamantly opposed to any congregation or leader who is not a part of a mainstream denominational affiliation?

Should all Christians give up their entrepreneurial dreams and conform to the job description and identity given to one by a corporation? Should all Christian leaders only define their call to the ministry according to the perimeters establish with in the denominational structure?

How many people do you know who are working for a corporation, but not fully using their abilities because of the restrictions of the job or the organization? Is that the mindset that one should have about a church or denomination?  Isnt Christianity truly about Liberation from Oppression? Isnt Christianity about being free to walk and live in the fullness of one's God given identity with out being socially obligated to the political and religious legalism? Arent we all accountable to God? As Christians arent we optimistic and hopeful that we can learn to walk in the Liberty of Salvation? If a Christian church is non-denominational does that make the church or the congregants any lesser as believers and followers of Jesus Christ? Did Jesus always go along with the religious order of his day?