I was zeroed in on my laptop with my own fingers flying over the keys typing an e-mail when I glanced over at my mom sitting next to me on the couch. Her hands. She stretched her fingers out turning them over and back again and again periodically wincing at both the pain and sight. She looked at me and said softly in Korean, “They look strange, don’t they?”
The workplace responds differently to the ways women work, and especially when it comes to staying late and helping others. This is particularly true for our work in the church. Being a pastor can be a helping profession in the most beautiful sort of way. We are servant-leaders. But for many women, having a servant’s heart can undermine what we’re trying to accomplish as leaders.
At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, President Obama urged humility about “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith” to the point where we commit atrocities, like slavery and Jim Crow, in the name of Christ. Critics quickly denounced Obama’s comments as un-American, while supporters defended their accuracy. But few have asked why Obama did not also link Christian conviction to the campaign against slavery and racial injustice.
The 14th-century Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi, wrote, “Return to the root of the root of yourself.” His words remind me that I often live on the periphery or circumference of life, disconnected from the root of my being and existence. To “return to the root of the root” of myself ultimately means returning to God.
For me that returning necessarily involves intentional silence.
Langston Hughes challenged our consciousness by asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” What results when hope, aspirations, callings, and promises are delayed, put off, postponed, or thwarted? Were they flawed expectations? Do such deferred dreams become burdensome desires that fade and never manifest, forever haunting us?
Six months after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri—where I serve as a pastor—there are families still wrestling with the question, “What would have happened if...?”
Many of us might assume that a church with only 32 members automatically qualifies as a “struggling church,” or even a dying church. But in the case of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Keansburg, New Jersey, many of us would be wrong.