Posts by The Rev. Deirdre Whitfield

Seek Me Out

When I find myself so overwhelmed, resistant, and unable to ask for help, I take solace in the fact that through Christ, somewhere in all my relationships God will seek me out – a letter or a phone call. No matter how far I feel lost or separated from God, my burdens only have the power that I give them. I know that God is greater than them all.

And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those who are lost. Luke 19:10

Advertisements

Break Down Barriers

Many of us are familiar with the phrase “agree to disagree.” However, in matters such as human dignity it doesn’t apply so well. The phrase allows us to make an excuse to do nothing about unjust behavior towards race, poverty, and gender that is experienced everyday. We turn deaf to the truth of our inability to hear and listen to the pain of others. Seek to find a way towards understanding and make that which seems disagreeable a pathway to break down barriers and build mutual acts of equality, justice and peace.

 

Make Room for the Unexpected

When do we stop over complicating our journey with heavy loads? Life is complicated enough. One good thing about baggage fees on airlines is that it forces us to focus only the things we really need. Make room for the unexpected. Travel light. So what if we forget something. We should be focusing on the journey – not the stuff. Trust that provision will be made by the grace of God along the way. Travel with faith and leave what’s unnecessary behind.

Luke 9:3  Take nothing for the journey ,no staff, nor bag, not bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic.

I Love To Tell The Story

Love is an act of kindness, generosity, compassion, and openness. Action that is controlling, selfish, arrogant and deceitful is not love. Who among us has not been guilty of what love is and what love is not? Both consciously or unconsciously we make the choice. It’s okay that we are imperfect, if within our heart we believe that God is in us, we consciously and willingly repent. Love graciously acknowledges our shortsightedness and we live to tell the story of God’s glory and how we’ve overcome.

…And Who Are You?

One rather self-important individual was getting impatient. Unwilling to wait any longer, decided to barge in and demanded to be seen by the doctor. “Don’t you know who I am?” shouted the individual. The secretary calmly asked the waiting patients; “I have a someone here who doesn’t know who he is. Can anybody please assist him in finding out?”   We often find ourselves in social systems like a hospital, and quickly become one of many in need of attention. In God’s vision we’re all important. We forget that God shows no impartiality, and fall victim to self-importance, selfishness, jealousy, and begrudgement, believing that no one is paying attention to us.  But rest assured, God is paying attention! Do you know who you are?

No Circumstance too Great

When you think about it, there really is no time when God is not to be praised. I realize in difficult circumstances, this is not the easiest thing to do. However, you may remember the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel and Mary in Luke’s Gospel which assures us that in due season God lifts up those low in circumstances but remain faithful in spirit. We often co-mingle the physical with the spiritual and by doing so we risk losing hope in God’s plan for us and begin to look for answers in the world rather than in God’s word. Eventually, like the prodigal child, we find that the answer cannot be found in the world.

As we draw closer to the end of the Easter season, let us remember Christ’s own circumstance and not allow the emotion of our own circumstance either excellent or unpleasant, take precedence over our love for God or more importantly cloud our assurance of God’s love for us.

Something Special

I awoke this morning thinking about what my day might bring, certain of only one thing, to enjoy every minute. After the immediate headlines about Dick Gregory and Jerry Lewis the morning show conversations turned to the solar eclipse. Up to this point I had absolutely no interest in the eclipse. But as I listened to NPR while I took care of some early morning errands I became more interested. After asking of the remote possibility of having those special glasses at some of the places I’d visited, I decided that the only way I’d get to see the eclipse was to make that pinhole camera. Would it work? I was about to find out. Our house is covered by trees but if I stood on a portion of the street just beyond the driveway there might be a window of opportunity at the identified hour @ 2:40. As I watched TV and waited for that one time moment, I picked up my box and went outside. Of course my neighbors had those special glasses. I walked to the street, turned my back to the sun and allowed the light to penetrate the pinhole. At first I saw what looked like a crescent and I thought my homemade camera was a farce. I then noticed two other crescents that I thought were created because I had somehow poked some incidental holes. Then just before I got a little discouraged that I had bought into this phenomena, I noticed that the crescent image was slowly getting bigger- something was definitely moving. Wow! I literally froze, afraid to move as I wished I’d brought my camera. After my paralyzingly moment I decided it was worth going back to my car to get my phone where I had left it, to get some kind of proof that I had indeed witnessed – though a partial image – something quite special. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it – John 1:5. Until 2024, if God is willing, I’ll be ready. Amen.

America Is Our Neighborhood

“I press towards the mark for the prize….” Philippians 3:14-15

As a newly elected co-chair of the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) I knew that this was not to be taken lightly. Particularly in the past five or six years up to and including this very moment much has happened that requires our constant attention to the social fiction of race and race relations, which all too often goes unnoticed by the average eyes in our society. This past weekend is no exception. I think constantly about the Christian mark both physically and spiritually and am reminded continually that if I am not pressing on then I am not making any headway. Giving up is not an option. Complacency is not an option and certainly, for the ARC and my own personal relationship with God, pressing on towards the mark of justice and equality is the only option.

As Sunday turned to Monday, the news was already out about the protest in Charlottesville, VA, but I hadn’t yet heard all of the story. I’d only heard about two groups, one protesting and the other counter-protesting over the removal of a statue. But we’ve heard this kind of thing before except this time someone decided to drive a car into a crowd of people and before it was all over three people were dead. By the time I had some down time in my day, I and the rest of the world are waiting for our President of these United States to say something – anything to condemn the actions of the identified white supremacy, neo-nazi group that made a decision to march like militia on the move through a somewhat progressive town and neighborhood of Charlottesville, Virginia. Okay, I for one can certainly understand needing some time to gather one’s thoughts – but ultimately the reality at least for me is that hatred, bigotry, and deep-seeded racism can sometimes go hand in hand with violence when it is met with any kind of opposition. And at times – opposition is exactly what is needed. After all, what would any of us have done, had our relatively quiet neighborhood was suddenly invaded by a scene of marching torches? This is no time for blame. We have only to look at the actions, the horrible things that were aimed towards, Hispanics, Jewish and African American people. Try to understand the frustration and anger of a community that is trying to grapple with its past and do the right thing so that everyone understands that we should not be glorifying the treason acts of this nation’s past but begin to move towards the mark of a society which actually reflects the justice of which this country’s constitution was written to uphold.

We get to that mark by not standing idly by, while those who trample on justice, equality and truth stomp boldly and brazenly through the neighborhood that is America. Slow to speak is one thing, but quick to ignorance is usually destructive to self and to others. If we are to get to that mark of justice, equality and truth we can no longer be complacent with any acts of racism. It is incumbent upon us to get at the depth of understanding this country’s history and privileged ignorance towards a disintegrating physical and spiritual health of humanity particularly among minority communities and the poor. These of course are not interchangeable. All minority communities are not poor and – all poor people are not minorities. If we are to get to that mark of justice, equality and truth we must oppose and call out those cowardly hiding behind the selectively applied second amendment. Our inaction is equal to complicity, which helps to perpetuate the lies that give strength to these hate groups and continues to oppress the mark of justice that this nation has set, albeit far after the Civil War. Electing our first Black President is a baby step trying to find balance that is easily plummeted if we don’t rise as a community to oppose racism, bigotry and white supremacy. It’s events like the one in Charlottesville, not the violence but rather the response to the invasion that gives some light to the systemic imbalance of justice of which that community was trying to right. If we are to get to that mark of justice, equality and truth we must name racism, white supremacy, privilege and bigotry for what it is at every moment, take action to oppose every revelation of it and protect every neighborhood from itself and others in order that everyone can fearlessly experience this seemingly elusive right of justice, equality and truth.

Too many people miss the mark, forgetting that true justice and true equality is not achieved solely on dollars and cents but rather with compassion, community and love. We must eat live, breathe, celebrate and suffer with the neighborhoods. Each of us is closer to Charlottesville than we realize. Every neighborhood in America is our neighborhood and what happened to the fine people of Charlottesville could happen anywhere. Charlottesville’s protests and counter-demonstrations cost us three lives and we are losing thousands daily to poisonous ideologies of severely broken systems in this country. Acts of racism, bigotry and white supremacy are dramatic and will always get the headlines. Unfortunately, this kind of drama typically trumps thorough, systemic, environmental and comprehensive inspection and action. If we continue to refuse to see the true impact of these acts, as the next drama plays out, you can be assured that racism – its deadly, destructive, divisive, and diminishing poison – will be coming to a neighborhood near you.