Advent: Day 5

What if you’re waiting, and unsure of what exactly you’re waiting for? What if you’re waiting and hoping, with one foot in doubt? What if you’re waiting and praying, with a strong fog of insecurity and imposter?

I’m tired of the self-help, personal development and inner work that says its our disbelief and our own self-sabotage that are the biggest obstacles. I’m tired of the talk about how I’m staying small because I’m the one staying and thinking small. I’m tired of the work and worksheets and workshops that seek to strengthen me not because I don’t think there’s truth, but because it puts so much of the burden on me. I don’t want to put the blame or responsibility on someone else, and I also don’t want the heart of the onus to be on me.

I’m so dang fallible and fragile. Do I need to conjure up enough strength in order to get to the next chapter? I have too many years of trauma and generational chains to unlock. Do I have to wait for my healing to hit to get what’s been waiting for me? I’m not one to wait around for manna to fall from the sky. But I’m also tired of trying and prying and crawling and searching and digging and throwing darts and putting out more feelers and doing and doing and doing and doing. Where does my dependence on god and my personal responsibility meet? Where’s the line between trusting the divine is more powerful than any mistakes and messes I can make, and trusting that I have a part to play in my own journey?

I’m tired of job searching on Craigslist every other month, living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck. I’m tired of being held at the mercy of audition notices and avail asks. I’m tired of re-working and re-writing a project that I’m scared will never see the light of day, that I’m desperate for higher help. I’m tired of being single and “opening and re-opening” my heart & my energy & my vibe in hopes that folks will know I’m truly into partnership. I’m tired of suspension. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of watching the world crumble around me due to covid, bad justice at the Supreme Court, climate change, gun violence, hurt people hurting people. I want to make this life count. I want to make this moment count. I want and need god to show me, even just a glimpse, what’s to come.

CBG: Liberation

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

Exodus 2:11-22

Moses desire to help doesn’t always pan out. Even though he was raised in the Pharaoh’s house, he counted himself a Hebrew and avenged the beating of his own people by killing an Egyptian. Even though Moses was Hebrew by blood and nurture, his fellow Hebrews do not count allegiance with him or respect him. He’s neither accepted with the Egyptians or with the Hebrews. He runs away and once again, stands up for the daughters of Midian. They assume him an Egyptian and Moses knows even with a Midian wife and a Midian son, he is but a sojourner in a foreign land.

Born out of water, Moses neither fits smoothly here or there. He had access to a people by blood/nature and to an upbringing because of compassion. He had a wonderful education, food on the table, a beautiful roof over his head and one day, when he was grown up, he finally saw the oppression and he acted. (Though poorly.) You are not faulted for the privilege and access you have been given. However, when you are grown up and become aware of the oppression, you are now responsible and culpable. Your initial actions to “help the oppressed” might not be received well, might actually do more harm than good. Those you want to “help” might not see you as an ally. Don’t simply help. Take your help and toss it in the trash. See the pain of the oppressed as your own oppression, so much that it springs you into wanting to destroy the reality of the oppression (not necessarily the oppressor.) Don’t help because you are looking from the outside but act because in acting you are creating liberation for all, including yourself! No one is free when others are oppressed. (Unknown)

When you are misunderstood and hated, it feels heart-wrenching and lonely. It can feel like what has been done wasn’t worth it. The waking up to reality isn’t worth it. But remember this, you have been freed. Freed from the fog, freed from this in-between, freed from ignorance. Plus you are a sojourner in a foreign land. Your home in heaven is secure and you will never be separated from God. This pain is temporary. Still do compassion.

Prayer: God I pray for a grace and a kindness when I feel misunderstood. God I pray for a comfort and security in you as my judge when I feel unseen and misunderstood. God I pray even still, I will act with kindness and compassion.

How do you respond when you feel misunderstood?

CBG: Scarlet Letter

So [Jesus] came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one who now have is not your husband. What would you have is true.

John 4:5-18

The woman comes to draw water at the well at the sixth hour, which is noon. She comes at this time because no one else comes at this time. She won’t have any awkward and uncomfortable run-in’s. She can’t talk to the Jews because she’s a Samaritan, and that’s the way of the land. She can avoid judgmental eyes and whispers she can deduce are about her. She might not want to talk to her own people because they know her past and her present. Her practice of drawing water at this hour and then her response to Jesus’ ask demonstrate a desire to hide and squelch connection.

The Samaritan woman must have felt like Hester from The Scarlet Letter. In this Jewish land where she is a Samaritan, she is a minority that well-acquainted with the racial and ethnic tensions. In this encounter with Jesus, her systems and cultures are questioned, her story and beliefs are revealed and her work of bridging communities began.

These sound bite phrases are frequently used and may lose their potency. So for today, this is the language I’ve chosen to find resonance.

  1. This Samaritan woman was given the opportunity and permission to converse about the systems she has been living in. She was invited into a conversation about attitudes and cultures that have been passed down from generations, without being shamed for having these thoughts.
  2. This woman was given space to share her story, her questions and her hopes. Even though Jesus knew all the answers, he never comes at her with an arrogance or impatience. Because part of healing one’s shame and trauma is to feel, hear and experience one’s identity in the safety of another who is gently and non-judgmentally holding it.
  3. This woman was so inspired and uplifted that she ran back to her community, forgot the task that she was doing and entered the path she was always called to. She ran back and told others and in that bridged even more relationships between Samaritans and Jews. She shared her revelation because it was a gift for all.

While the spaces and life we live may not be marked overtly by the presence of Jesus, may we enter hard conversations with this openness and honesty, even if there are high risks. May we educate ourselves on our history, our trauma, our wrongs and our hopes. May we share gifts and grace with all because grace begets grace and grace opens hearts to the love of God.

Prayer: God may every day feel like an encounter with the curious, kind and radical Jesus at the well. May that spur me onto community building words and acts.

Where do we see our desire to hide and squelch connection?

CBG: Offensive Love

Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, But I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this many performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

John 11:30-48

The sorrow of the place. The declaration from Mary that Jesus was her brother’s keeper. The calling out of Jesus’ power. The grief. The community. It overtook Jesus. In this particular case, he demonstrated his love and power by resurrecting the dead.

He showed up for the community even when he didn’t know exactly what he was going to witness. He held their emotions that it broke him down to their level of grief. He then acted in a way that demonstrated the heights and power of his love.

Sacrificial love requires us to show up even when we might not know what we will encounter and how we will be received. It requires us to be with others so deeply that it feels like it is our own the sorrow and suffering. We are our brother’s keeper. Suffering onto them is suffering onto us. We must go near. We must look into the eyes of those hurting. We must draw so near it troubles our spirit. I wish all sacrificial love can result in resurrection on earth. However, the love needs to be demonstrated so profoundly that it draws people into immense hope and faith and/or make people hate you. This was the moment when people drew even nearer, surrendered even more to love and the kingdom Jesus had preached. This was also the moment the Pharisees began their plot to kill Jesus. They saw their power slipping away. They needed to protect their power. Sacrificial love will draw some to more love and draw out the insidious fears in others. Love anyway.

Prayer: I am my brother’s keeper. Keep breaking my heart until I see those suffering as my own suffering. Move me to act in a way that offends both those who are hurt to restorative love and those who are oppressing to fear.

Where is my heart callous?

CBG: Sacrificial Love 4

But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Then Nebechadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace hearted seven times more than it was usually heated…And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking; in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Daniel 3:15-19, 24-25

Does Nebuchadnezzar remind you of any tyrant in America 2020? A “leader” that is SO obsessed with his own ego and control over others? He’s driven by arrogance, reeks of ignorance and threatens others to maintain his status. I won’t name names because this “person” is so hateful. Love trumps hate.

The three young men stood with their integrity, willing to die for it. They didn’t know for sure whether they would be delivered from the fire, yet regardless, would not bow down to the tyrannical evil rule of the “king in power.” They got bound. They saw what they were about to enter. And they DID get thrown into the fire.

Are we willing to get thrown into the fire for what we believe? Are we willing to stand firm even when death is staring us in the face? How does one even get this kind of integrity and courage? How does one stay this centered?

The three men had each other. So find a community that you can stand together and fight the battles together. Find people who will hold your hand as y’all walk into scary, hard tests. Find the people who you can lean on.

When we’re not part of the original three, be the fourth! Most of us can be the fourth. Be the one who enters the fire with those who are standing for what is right. Stand with friends even if you feel awkward entering late. Jump in. Would you rather walk freely in the fire or be bound by a lack of conscience?

Prayer: God help me move and act from that centered place of truth and love. God help me to see the community I am to walk with in the fire.

What is your cost of standing up to oppression and oppressors?

CBG: Sacrificial Love 3

And behold, a man came up to [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell, what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Matthew 19:16-22

This man has good intentions. He’s showing up. He’s asking questions. He wants to be on the right path. When Jesus lists out commandments for him to follow, the man clearly knows them and says he has indeed followed them. What else? So, Jesus tacks on sell it all and follow me. That crushes the man because that’s A LOT he has to sacrifice.

The road to hell is paved by good intentions. Good intentions are not enough. First, the man’s question was already faulty. Yes, he’s asking, and the question reveals his heart. He believes that his way to heaven lies in his good deeds. He believes that his way to eternal life lies in his power to do good. He believes he can do good. He already exists in a false paradigm of a work-based life. Jesus tries to reimagine and expand the man’s concept of good and the man’s ability to do good. First he reflects back the man’s way of thinking and then responds with a question in the language the man would understand to further expose the man’s heart. And the man responds with a lack of humility, a lack of self-awareness of his own lack and full-blown ego and self-congratulation. Jesus then reflects that the man’s response demonstrates the man thinks he’s done well, perfect indeed, but still truly knows there’s more. The man really thinks he’s done it all, he’s not at fault, throw him the next challenge. Jesus then cuts straight in: surrender all the present security, trust it lies ahead and come with me. Jesus pushed the man beyond his comfort, beyond what he was willing to give up, beyond his security into a land of discomfort and hard uncomfortable faithful sacrifice.

My intentions may be good. Bravo for a beat. However, am I willing to check my heart and my ego beyond my good deeds and practices. Do I recognize that good actions are not enough for change? Good actions might prompt for and reveal a changing heart, but I need to always be working on changing my mindset, my views, my perspectives, my heart. Then that heart MUST be demonstrated by good actions. And the work NEVER STOPS on this side of heaven. Our heart always has more room to expand and grow and learn. And our actions will keep reflecting that. A messier take on the chicken or the egg.

I need to do the hard work of seeing where I am arrogant, where I am self-righteous and where I am truly truly putting my security. Am I asking the right questions? Are my questions centering on my goodness or are my questions scary, uncomfortable invitations to see where I can shift and be more? Am I living a life that is truly sacrificial, where it actually hurts my own security, where it relies on faith, where it relies on the trust that if ETERNAL LIFE is what I believe and seek, then whatever I give up now in the present is a drop in the bucket! Currently, not really. I don’t only need to do better, but I need to be better. And if I truly believe I have it all and my soul is most important, what do I have to fear.

Prayer: God in my discomfort and inabilities, give me the courage to see how you see me and what you have in store for me, so that I can continue the work every day to be better and do better.

What hurts to sacrifice and surrender?

CBG: Fire

When the Lord saw that [Moses] turned aside to see, “God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, “The Lord did not appear to you.”
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do.”

Exodus 3:4-12, 4:1, 10, 13-17

Moses had the privilege to escape into the mountains to avoid the oppression happening in Egypt. His life was peaceful, maybe boring. It was quiet. It was a time of healing. It was a time of rest. It was a time of waiting. The oppression was and is still happening. Fine, he is scared and uncomfortable because God is speaking out of a burning bush. Moses had spent so much time away from others, he may have forgotten who he is because of the lack of relation. God doesn’t reject his fear; God says I will be with you. Fine, that might not feel enough because Moses is insecure and knows his weaknesses. God doesn’t mock his self-awareness; God equips him. Fine, Moses is still afraid and feels not enough. God doesn’t ignore Moses’ core pain; God says I am in control, trust me. FINE! Moses is still afraid. God doesn’t give up on Moses. God works with what he has and gives Moses a helper.

Fine. I am scared. I am aware of my inadequacies and my discomfort. I feel in my core that I am a coward and a fraud. I feel like I am culpable for the transgressions. I feel that I have not done enough. It feels a little too late. It feels like walking into a battlefield where people might not trust me and might hate me. I feel like someone else will do a better job. I feel like I still don’t have enough to know if I will come out alive and well at the end.

And to all this, Stop. Stop focusing on myself. Stop focusing on MY needs. Stop focusing on what I can do. How do I hold onto my identity as a child of God, equipped and sent out by God?

Focus on the oppression. Focus on the black lives that have been killed. Focus on the black lives that are always at risk. Focus on the families that have been destroyed, that might be destroyed. Focus on the evil of police brutality and white supremacy. Focus on the lives that have been murdered. Focus on the heartbreak, the sorrow, the grief, the anger, the injustice of it all. Focus on the task at hand: to upend the system for the sake of the least of our brothers. Meditate on God’s sovereignty and justice. Meditate on his ability to flip tables and destroy temples. Take a step at a time. Who are the helpers? Who can I help?

Prayer: God give me the courage to live like you love me and I am an instrument of your love, justice and power.

Character: Where am I focused on my discomfort and lacks instead of the task at hand that God has so clearly given you?

Grace: Remember the resurrection.

CBG: Self-control

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:13-19

Jesus flipped over the tables at the temple. He made a mess with the coins. He caused the chaos and confronted the people who infuriated them. Those who were with him saw his passion. Those who didn’t know him or were inconvenienced by him demanded an answer for his actions. It’s a foreshadow. It’s a warning. It’s a sign of what is to come.

I do not condone violence when its intention and sole purpose is to harm recklessly and to showcase ego. Violence is an inability to express anger and an acting from an emotional clog/prison. However, I do understand an anger that can no longer be held in and must be expressed. Anger is helpful; it stems from a sense of injustice, pain and hurt. Anger expressed, not to make another small, but to shake someone awake, is necessary.

Self-control has been pillaged by interpretations stemming from a need to control, or can I say it, the white supremacy and patriarchy that has infiltrated our study of the Word. When I first hear of self-control, I think of this pushing down of desires that are “bad for you,” or a denying of your feelings for the sake of “something better.” Often this preaching of self-control is aimed towards women and people of color, or people who have lots of feelings. That is not self-control!

Self-control is an ability to understand one’s feelings and act righteously from those feelings. It’s not a denial of our desires. It’s not being ruled by our desires. The self in self-control demonstrates how strong one’s perspective can overtake the needs/good of others. So in order for the self not to go haywire with its wants, the control comes from seeing one’s desires in light of your grandest purpose and the people that may be affected by your want. Self-control is holding our desires and feelings without judgment to consider how it will affect us when expressed and those in the path of them.

Jesus in that temple is self-control personified. He knew and felt his anger. He wrecked his “Father’s house” which had been violated for capitalistic purposes. Yes, he was passionate, and his passion stemmed from his overflowing purpose. Jesus didn’t participate in a riot; he started a rebellion. Riots alone for the sake of destruction are not helpful, but rebellions that are part of a greater revolution to restore humanity, that we must be for.

Prayer: God I pray for a healthy way to express my anger that doesn’t destroy. God I pray for justice and my responsibility to enact it. God I pray for restoration and my role in it. God I pray for anger aimed for the sake of renewal and restoration.

Character: Where have I chosen to hurt others and myself rather than vulnerably express my anger?

Grace: How does God’s justice feel?

CBG: Remind

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion — to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastation; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

Isaiah 61:1-4

We do not need to strive and work on perspective. We need to be reminded of our purpose, our power and our priesthood. We do not dismiss our feelings and our exhaustion. In the midst of all that, we remember our calling. It is through your feelings and your exhaustion, that the power of your calling lifts your head slightly and helps you take another courageous step. We do not need to put things in perspective nor think of the “bigger picture” or “how things will work out…eventually.” That type of pulling ourselves up and reworking our minds by our own strength can feel disingenuous, forced and lead to guilt if we “fail” What we need is a reminder that we have already been anointed and NO ONE, NOTHING can take that stamp of worth away. You, are not made for small things. You, are not created for the trite and trivial. You, were created for transformation and restoration. You, right where you are now, have all the power and strength, to be the reflection of God. Now this reminder is scary. This kind of reminder can shed the unnecessary and set our hearts straight.

Prayer: God remind me of who you are and who I am. Help my heartbreak point in the direction of transformative justice. Help my sadness point to communal comfort. Help my fears point to your former and forever abundances and provision.

Creative: Read these verses over yourself. Feel it. Embrace it. Where does it refresh your body? Your heart? Your mind.

Brave: What part of this scripture scares you? Can you step in?

Generous: What part of this scripture excites you? Can you live in?

CBG: Esther

Moredcai also gave [Hathach] a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people. And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law — to be put to deaf, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who know whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.

Esther 4:8-11

You hear a need. You contextualize the need in the system you exist in. You hear that the system you exist in is fallible and unjust. You make a promise to address the need, acknowledging the consequences of acting in such a way within the system. You pause in solidarity with those who are being crushed by the system.

We all exist in this system of patriarchal capitalist money is God. Whether you hate it, love it, use it when it’s to your advantage, that is the system we live in. What does it take to courageously and wisely address the injustice with the system it mind? It doesn’t mean you have to choose between working within the system or outside the system. Radical ways usually exist in a plane all to itself — neither for or against, but completely different.

As an Asian-presenting female that exists in a fairly established black and white tale, whether that is reality, projection or most likely an amalgamation of both, it is wrong for me to stay complacent in a state of white-adjacency or inappropriate to stand merely ally in world of black suffering. What can I learn from Esther?

  1. Who are your people? Who are you affiliating with or grouping with? The strong or the vulnerable?
  2. Who seems to be in charge? What can this person/system do to me?
  3. How has everything that has happened in my life shaped me for this particular moment?
  4. Who do I need on my team?
  5. What supposed necessities do I need to surrender so that I can make room for better?

Prayer: Help me to live in your kingdom while in this kingdom. Help me to see my place in today. Release this lie that I’m in this alone. Help me give up that which is less, which might have served me once upon a time, but now is actually an obstacle. Give me courage and wisdom to stand with those who are forgotten and vulnerable.

Creative: For 15 minutes, put the screens away and connect with the world and with your body.

Brave: Who or what have you been afraid of? How can you challenge it/they?

Generous: Who or what have you pushed aside? How can you bring it/they in?