National Museum of African American History & Culture

Also, see a related interview by Anita Little at Religious Dispatch on Religion and Resistance. She speaks with the DC curator of the Center for the Study of African American Religion, Rev. Yolanda Pierce. That new center is housed in the NMAAHC. My favorite part of the interview is here–all this lovely stuff about the ancestors and symbolism–when Rev. Pierce discusses President Obama’s part in ringing a 500-pound church bell. This is fascinating to see this wonderful treasure open:

As a gesture, as a symbol, it is so powerful. The bell is tangible, it’s this huge thing that’s traveled to the seat of power, Washington, D.C. It came from this community of enslaved people who could have never imagined in their lifetime an African American president or an African American museum in our nation’s capital. It’s no small thing, we are at the evening of President Obama’s presidency.

A lot of the people coming on opening day are coming partially to say goodbye to President Obama in what will be one of his last public acts as president.

For me personally, it makes me think of the spirits of the ancestors, all the men and women who never lived to see this moment, all of our ancestors who died en route to the United States and whose bones now litter the Atlantic Ocean. The resounding clang of that bell as it reaches the heavens will remind me of those who could not be present.

The RD piece is here.

Staring Contest That Is Spiritual Direction

by Vanessa BumbeersI located this post in my blog drafts. It’s worth my reading it as I prepare for the coming days. Even though it’s six years old, it feels relevant!

“If you fall asleep while you’re praying, you are either too busy or you are running from something.”  That’s something my spiritual director told me in one of our earlier sessions almost two years ago.  She was quoting Ignatius.  I thought about that quote for weeks.  I still remember it when I’m struggling to pray, when I’m avoiding prayer, and when I’m tired.

I mentioned in a few posts that I was completing the process of ordination.  Some time after I started pursuing ordination with the C0venant, I started seeing a spiritual director.

Spiritual direction is an ancient practice or discipline where a person seeking direction meets with a director.  It is an old practice, direction.  When I started, it was at the encouragement of our denomination’s Board of Ordered Ministry’s Executive Minister.  I was taking a class on vocation a couple years ago, and I decided I wanted to “enter spiritual direction.”

I had heard about it in seminary.  I read about some of the comparisons between direction and counseling.  I had been in counseling before by then but not in direction.  I sensed that direction would be helpful to me as I sought to fundamentally be a director to others though as a pastor. I’m influenced by Eugene Peterson’s perspective on spiritual direction (prayer and worship leadership) as the pastor’s primary tasks.

Pastoral ministry very much includes this kind of work.  In many instances, I provide spiritual direction to people in my congregation.  There are folks I counsel, but there are certainly folks who I am directing, even if they don’t know the nuances between the two.  Counseling, in a church context, tends to be directive and short-term.  Direction is broader and wider.

Rather than having a problem to fix, the problem is God. The context is not my relationship with my wife or my church leaders. The context is my relationship with God. So that direction becomes an experience in listening for the movement between me and God. It’s an  unending source of moving, dancing, singing, struggling, and silence–my relationship with God–and direction helps me face the movement.

It opens me up to being broader and wider. It opens me.

Chapel Prayers

by Victor ZambranoA little out of time with the season in one sense but appropriate in another given how the days are filling and changing. May this prayer fit the growth cycles in your life, too:

As the days are lengthening and the earth spends longer in the light of each day, grant O God that I may spend longer in the light of your presence.

And may the seeds of your Word, which to now have been long-buried deep within me, grow, like everything around us, into love for you; love for your people; and trust in your abiding and healing power.

May I become a visible declaration of your presence in the midst of life.

Grant, O God, that in this springtime I may be a tree in your world,

Getting nourishment as I am rooted in you;

Giving comfort to others as trees give shade in the heat of day;

Giving shelter from the winds of life to my family, friends, and those around me.

Revive me, O God, even as you revive the world of all living things this spring.

Amen.