A Message from Bishop Jakes

There is so much in this message. I saw it yesterday and decided I wanted to chronicle it as much for myself as for blog readers. It isn’t my habit to share sermons but there’s rich material about shame-based theology we must confront, truth about process addictions to social media, interpersonal relationship possibilities, rest, creativity, liberative self-determination, and grace for all the backgrounds that limit us.

While you will find disagreements–you should in every communication if you’re critically engaged–you will find something good and worth meditating upon. Listen to what’s for you.

Loyalty to Openness

I have often heard myself saying to people that I don’t like to change my mind. It is true.

Part of it is that I make decisions slowly. I choose carefully. At least, this is also what I tell myself. So, when I make a choice, that choice is done with the weight of consideration, deliberation, and care coming out of a patient direction.

The other part is that I’m stubborn. I tell people that I’m committed, that I’m committed to the move in martial terms, but it’s a soft way of saying that I’m stubborn. I think most humans are this way.

Most people are committed to their views of things. We are loyal to our own worlds, loyal to our own beliefs, committed to those things we’re comfortable with. Change is hard on us.

I could say this in spiritual and moral terms. The consistent practice of making up one’s mind leaves a person open to pride and closed to change. Making and maintaining your mind leaves you vulnerable to the same loyalty.

So, changing your mind, seeing a thing with fresh eyes with an openness to what’s truly there, may be the most powerful moral and spiritual act of your day. It’s a little like being loyal to openness and opposed to it’s enemy, it’s soul antonym.

That feels like generosity to me.

Practice Telling Truths

Spiritual practices are not always grand and pronounced. The sustained practices–and the sustaining practices–are those gestures we regularly engage with and which call no fanfare. One essentially spiritual practice is telling the truth.

Telling the truth is saying what is real, what is observable by others, and what is experienced by others. Someone else always corroborates truth. It’s not private. Truth is public. Telling the truth is a public act. It is generous because it always involves you saying what is real to someone else. It’s what someone else says to you that you know is true.

Even if you have not seen or handled or read what you’ve been told is true, truth resonates. On the other hand, when you get accustomed to telling truths, your sensitivity to untruths heightens. When you’re used to being honest, being anything else grates what has become a core characteristic.

It also stings to experience lies, untruths, and exaggerations which are themselves an experience in seeing how far you can get by experimenting with lies. Lies, untruths, and exaggerations all distort you. They all distance you from what is real. Eventually you lose the ability to experience the truth. Eventually your perception becomes unreal. Your character becomes false. Eventually you can’t see the difference between truth and lies because you have so frequently smudged that difference that it’s gone.

If there is an antidote, it is in the simple, small practice of telling the truth.

Prayer of the Week

How do you do it? How do you see all your children dying and still keep seeing?

I’m sure you don’t look. I’m sure you turn away, close your eyes, cover your head. I’m sure you don’t look but still see. Tell me how you do it.

Tell me how I can change my vision, how I can see farther, how I can accept a world that’s so distant from the city that I love.

Tell me how you walk down the streets where I was raised, how you see the neighborhood where I learned what manhood meant.

Tell me how you notice what I remember and how you still keep noticing where all that love still sits.

Tell me how you keep your heart soft when the images across every screen fundamentally harden my grip on my sons’ necks for fear that what I see is all there is.

Tell me how you do it.

Tell me how you stay with it, present to it, unflinching in divine love, how you posture yourself on the pavement of the undefended.

Tell me how you’re so at home on the floors of 79th and 63rd and up north where NBC-5 doesn’t report on all the same pains that happen on the west side.

Tell me how you do it. Tell me how you see this. Tell me how you do it even if you don’t look.

Tell me how to see.

Prayer of the Week

I’m thinking of people of who feel especially disinherited. I want you to think of them the way you always do.

Grant them the light of your company in the midst of this present darkness.

Give them the lift of love when the weight of their world feels depressing.

Replace their burden with the yoke of grace, the weight of glory, the heaviness of splendor.

There is so much in the way right now, so much that makes loving hard.

Make it a touch easier today, this week.

Make love among us possible so that justice rolls and runs like raging waters.

Prayer of the Week

The litter of the week frames my prayers. Garbage phrases, unconsidered decisions, poorly chosen statements. They’re all in my mind as I pray.

I know you’ve seen these things, heard them the way I have. I wonder what you’re saying. I wonder if we’re listening.

Make us listeners. Better listeners. Listeners period. Help us to hear you. Help us to hear ourselves. And then each other.

Perhaps we can surrender some of our words when we hear. Perhaps there’s room in our listening for you to work.