Against All Odds
Faith Crossing Church member Cynthia Jones, right, prays with an unidentified New Orleans evacuee at a church service in Forney, Texas, yesterday.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep...
My head hit the pillow at around 6 yesterday morn. The sun, refracting through my bedroom window, singed my face soon after. I didn't get up 'til almost 10 though. Just enough time for me to shower and trek uptown to catch the sermon at Riverside.
When I arrived, at a quarter 'til noon, I bounced down the steps of the balcony--i bop when happy, sad or anywhere between--and knocked knees with an elderly half sleep man with a Riverside provided hearing aid in his ear as I scooted onto the second row pew. The guest preacher Kim Bobo only a few introductory remarks into her "Labor of Love" message had already lulled him to sleep. Moments later my sister traipsed in with her own hearing aid and I breathed a sigh of relief. I wouldn't have to jack the ole unengaged man in hollow christian ritual this Sunday (The sunday before the church had run of out hearing aids relegating my sis to a half hour of fuzz and solitary reflection).
We sat and listened and I won't summarize or repeat 'cause I wouldn't do the ecumenical activist justice. But I will higlight two biblical passages, the cornerstone of a message that reclaimed the stones that the builder refused.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments...are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.I don't know how to turn the wicked from their evil ways and I am not so audacious to not count myself among their exponential numbers but I do know that I have no idea how to turn them/us from their/our ways, wicked as they are. I do believe that admonitions and action are necessary and I know that it will save us, not in the sense of a gilded pearly gated afterlife (I haven't been able to wrap my mind around a post mortem heaven or hell yet), but in that it will ensure that our living is not in vain.
So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, "O wicked ones, you shall surely die," and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
Communion came. Long ceremony that it is we sang a few hymns. One of which I remember from being raised in this church compelling me to do the black woman sanctified sway. You know that celestine side to side rock occasionally accessorized with some mlk/funeral home fan fluttering. The song escapes me now. It's late or rather early Mon. morn but the context flashed me back to another hymn as likely to ring from the nave of my progressive but stiff multiracial church as an amen corner. "Sit At His Feet and Be Blessed." It's funny the melody lingers on but I cannot remember the lyrics outside of sunday service like its some sort of embodied knowledge only accessible in proper context. But the chorus I remember:
The wicked shall cease from troublingThis is the promise, right? Deliverance after life. Horrid as life may be, look forward to fleshlessness. Transcendence. In so many words what was told to slaves. It's comforting yes but its an opiate too since it may or may not be true. Forgive me, God, if I speak out of turn but I am inclined to agree with Marley whose revolutionary hymn cautions: "If you knew what life was worth, you would look for yours on earth." The realest shit he ever wrote? What is certain is that we all have this life, whether or not its ALL we have, but we live and breath experiencing heaven or hell in proportion to our portion of love. Love at the hands of our neighbors. And I'll fast and pray and try and clear my head to listen to God but ain't shit gon' change unless we live our lives in love. Refusing to prophet at the expense of others then patting oneself on the back for trickling down a pittance of one's ill gotten gain. Removing them old people wrap around sunglasses that obscure the poverty and despair in our peripheral vision from our sight. Abrubtly, I conclude.
The weary shall be at rest
And all the saints of(and?) the angels
will sit at his feet and be blessed
History will never change because of politics or conquests or theories or wars; that's mere repetitions, its been going on since the beginning of time. History will change when we are able to use the energy of love, just as we use the energy of the wind, the seas, the atom.
Mikhail, The Zahir, Paolo Coelho