Subversive Stillness: An Antiracist Devotional for the Everyday Believer By Robert Monson
Copyright © 2020 Sub:Culture Incorporated All rights reserved.
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No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.
Unless marked otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All italics within quotations have been added by this Author for emphasis, unless otherwise indicated in a footnote. In addition, some personal pronouns in Scripture have been capitalized by the Author.
Cover and interior book design: Lala England
Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Heart Behind This Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Quarterly Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Week 1: Rest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Day 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Day 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Day 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Day 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Day 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Day 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Day 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Week 2: Educate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Day 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Day 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Day 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Day 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Day 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Day 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Week 3: Work & Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Day 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Day 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Day 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Day 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Day 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Day 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Day 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Week 4: Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Day 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Day 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Day 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Day 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Day 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Day 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
When Will We See . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Unity in the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Leaning into the Voices of Women...Particularly Black Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 About Sub:Culture Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 In closing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Foreword It is a perilous time. People are dying on urban street corners at the hands (and knees) of crooked cops. The worldâ€™s most vulnerable populations die daily at the mercy of a global pandemic scientists are only recently beginning to understand. There is much to lament, to resist, to be desired. The times beg the question: how does one keep a heart alive to God whilst their soul languishes at the injustice in the land? How can we at once, bow in adoration toward Love enfl eshed and concomitantly raise our voices and our fists toward wickedness unchecked? I have known Robert, for a very long time. No one has taught me more about the tension of being an advocate for justice while maintaining a contemplative posture. No one has shown me more about embracing pain and chasing joy. What we hold here, together in our hands, are the pearls of a faithful, brilliant and prophetic cultural shepherd who longs to see the people of God made whole. May we all with open hearts and minds be tutored in the tension of a Subversive Stillness and may justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Tamice Namae Spencer Founder & CEO, Sub:Culture Inc.
Acknowledgments Working on this project was surreal. What started as a thought on a run grew over time into a full-fledged devotional. It was my hope that I would be able to write something that would honor the heart of the prayer warrior and the contemplative. I wanted to be able to create something that I truly havenâ€™t seen out there in the antiracism market. Often the resources seem historical or pointing out much-needed discrepancies in the power structures of our nation. I knew there had to be a way for the Christian to pray and act. Th ank you to my family who continually support me and believe in my dreams. You continually inspire me to get back up again even when life has shattered me. Thank you to Tamice who built this organization from the ground up. Your dreams have taken fl ight and here we are. Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers at Sub:Culture Inc. Your tireless efforts for little pay and recognition donâ€™t go unnoticed to God. Finally, to all of the donors, supporters of our podcasts/articles, etc. Thank you for believing in what we do.
Heart Behind This Project Th is project was intentionally crafted in a way that hopefully makes it unique in terms of content, engagement, accessibility, and the way that the material is presented. Th is project is decidedly antiracist, which is decidedly human and full of the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of the unique set of events and brutality that has shaped America, racism is woven into the very fabric of society. What it means to exist, make money, be attractive, work hard, etc are all shaped in principles predicated upon white supremacy. Even Christians fi nd themselves within the gravitational pull of racism. In Matthew 24: 12 Jesus rightly says that: â€œthe love of many will grow cold.â€? It was true in His day, and looking around circumspectly, the evidence of coldness and cruelty abound...even within the walls of many churches. So why be antiracist? Why is this necessary? It is important to note that just ceasing from racist and brutal thinking or policies progresses humanity only slightly. There is massive damage that has been done as a byproduct of chattel slavery, the oppression of Native American people, and global colonialism/imperialism. Anti-racist strategies, including prayer, fi nancial reparations, true multiethnic communities, justice founded on biblical principles, etc. are needed in order to create foundations of peace and safety. Christians have a unique vantage point to note the sinfulness of humanity and partner with God in restorative justice. Christians also have the opportunity to divest from sinful and wicked practices as well as thinking which results in transformed Christian communities. These communities have the opportunity to serve as beacons of light in extremely dark places. When the whole world is reeling under the weight of hatred, transformed Christian communities can chart a new path forward. Th rough love and good works that are very tangible and practical, these communities bring Godâ€™s very presence into extremely tough situations. Many communities choose to ignore topics of racial inequity or oppression, believing that this is a more Christian response to suffering. The very Gospel that we preach is predicated upon God initiating the liberation of His people, tangibly. God delivered His people from Egypt mightily and went further to liberate humanity in totality when Jesus came, suffered, died, was buried, and rose again.
Th is devotional is unique in that it attempts to engage the whole being of who you are. It is not merely a devotional that gives you a Scripture to think through and pray a simple prayer. Th is devotional seeks to engage a Christianâ€™s whole being and connect them with God and His heart as liberator. The material isnâ€™t limited merely to black and white people in the examples that will be used. The goal is to engage with God in such a way that the seeds of racism that are contained within every human soul are eradicated. That eradication will lead to further partnering with God in creating a society that promotes thriving and existing free of fear and shame, especially because of ethnicity or skin color. Lastly, this particular project will center blackness as the viewpoint by which anti-racism is engaged. Th is approach is not necessarily the best way and isnâ€™t the only way. By centering things from the lens of black people, and other people of color, the idea is for Scripture, sin, and the world to be seen through new perspectives. Typically, devotionals are written in a way that centers a white audience. Th is new approach may be a bit uncomfortable, but hopefully a blessing when all things are said and done. The hope is by decentering whiteness in this devotional, and giving different points of engagement of God whether it is through inspirational quotes, highlighting specific people, song lyrics, etc. one will connect with God in new and genuine ways. Experiences will abound as the image of God is magnified by observing the beauty of people.
Recommendations Again, this devotional is set up in a bit of a unique way that may present some unique challenges. You will notice that at the beginning of the project that there is a thematic plan that spans an entire year. These four themes are accompanied by certain prayer practices/ recommendations to invigorate your prayer time. As each few months transition into a new theme, you might find yourself being impacted by the previous theme while in prayer. Feel free to go back and stick with that theme if it truly resonates with you. Th is devotional is meant to stir you. An effective anti-racist isn’t merely stirred though, they are rooted in history, Scripture, and prayer. Being an anti-racist is a decidedly spiritual act and prayer practices should be implemented to cause activism to move beyond mere lip service or social media posts. The next portion of the devotional takes 31 days and breaks it down into four thematic sections that mirror the yearly themes. On each day that is presented, you will fi nd Scriptures, and thoughts, followed by quotes, stories, musical lyrics, cultural examples, etc. that magnify the points that were presented. All of these are presented in a way that seeks to expound on God’s view of humanity and remove the barriers that hinder love and intimacy both horizontally and vertically. Because the days are not tied to a specific date, feel free to flow in and out of days/themes that resonate with you deeply. The goal isn’t progressing like a normal book, the goal is to engage with God. Be blessed as you read, pray, and engage with God and others! May God raise up His Church that stands as a witness against the wickedness of racism.
Anti-Racism Rooted in Imago Dei So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27) Here we begin our time together in this devotional. We start from the beginning of creation with God’s original intent for mankind. In the creation of humanity, we see much about God’s holy heart. He formed and fashioned humanity from the template of Himself.
When God forms humanity in this way, fi rst Adam, and then lovingly crafting Eve, He places them in the center of the Garden of Eden. Cherished. Protected. Loved. Th is intentionality and care that is shown here form the basis of the theological term Imago Dei. Humans are made in the image of the holy God and because of that, they retain a dignity that cannot be accurately measured. Th is transcends race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Imago Dei forms the framework for anti-racism work. It is hard to start at any other place when thinking about combating the insidious nature of what has ravaged not only America but the entire globe. If one starts at the historical point to combat racism it is easy to run into a dead-end because in different ways humankind has seemingly always sought to dominate one another. Where do you draw the line on condemning one culture as opposed to another? Do you start at the sentimental level to fuel anti-racism work? No. Eventually, emotions run out and numbness begins to take over. Th inking deeper, what is considered racism can be considered subjective depending on who’s vantage point one is looking from. Looking through the eyes of the privileged and the dominant, it is easy to dismiss many things as simply coincidence...not racist. Th is is juxtaposed with the marginalized and the disadvantaged. They probably see many things through the lens of racism. It is probably very easy for them to see where racism has marred their chances in life, freedom, and dreams. Who do you believe? The answer tenderly should be neither. Both perspectives have weight but leave it open to power and influence to be the tiebreaker. The rooting of anti-racism beckons from the Garden. Imago Dei calls us home with God. Looking at society, history, government, and structures of power through this lens begin to lay aside many areas of ambiguity. Let us not think then that there is necessarily a middle ground or a “agree to disagree” when it comes to the work of dismantling areas of racism and wickedness. For example, when we know that people are created in the image of God, the Holy God...how shall we look upon the brutalizing of the Native American people that has taken place from the genesis of this country? How shall we look at the many fleeing for their lives in Sudan? How shall we look at the horrors of the Holocaust? There is no middle ground. A person without a past is a person without an identity. And the absence of an identity is very serious because without self-knowledge others can make you become what they desire….To be nothing means that you have done nothing in history worthwhile. (James Cone, My Soul Looks Back, p. 28) Imago Dei does beckon us home. It beckons us to listen. To respect, especially the marginalized in society. Often, their stories are left untold or even worse, obscured. Their stories are usually reframed in a light that makes the dominant culture feel less guilty. You can take a look at the history of the fi lm industry in America to see the reframing of slavery 16
and life in the South to see that the narrative that was told even up until recently was that life was mostly good. Imago Dei makes us quick to listen and slow to speak. After we have heard and after we have seen the cries of other human beings, regardless of their gender or religious background... how can we do anything but pray and act? Love demands of us act of restorative justice. Let us not think that these acts must come in grandiose gestures. (Although Lord willing they might.) Men and women throughout history have made small actions based upon their convictions that humanity should be treated equitably. Let Imago Dei beckon us home.
Anti-Racism Rooted in Anti-Misogyny Taking the foundations of Imago Dei further it is worth asserting here at the start of this project that Anti-Racism work, soul work, God work should fi nd itself in fields of Anti-Misogyny. It is very possible to do activism in such a way that speaks of unity among races but continues to oppress women. It is possible to pray in such a way that desires to rid oneself of the toxic seeds of racism but be left with the seeds of hatred towards women. Th is cannot be. It should not be. While different forms of specific activism can specialize in conquering different justice issues, this project will assume that women and men are created in the image of God. Both will be quoted. The very gravitational pull of this world is towards a patriarchal society that is oppressive to women. Studying much of world history will lead almost to a depressing depiction of man after man ruling women with seeming no regard to the full scope of how damaging certain actions would be. Much respect must go out to the many women throughout history who have acted bravely, rose above their circumstances, become inventors, fought wars, nursed kings, withstood cruelty, and become scholars. On this day the work of Anti-Misogyny is done by all sorts of women, but especially by womanist scholars. There are too many to name, but these black women have truly sought to take their Christian ideals, wrestle with The bible, history, their location, their gender, etc. and give meaningful answers to a hurting world. Womanists became necessary because of the sheer gap of things that traditional feminism, Black liberation theology, and other streams had when it came to black women. As we seek to form an equitable society we must learn from the mistakes of past generations. Womanists teach us that there is a more holistic way to view the world that would lead to an equitable society. Th is stance includes anti-racism work. Th is approach may feel disruptive and shaky at times, but when embraced with humility and an open heart can lead to better paths forward.
Week 1: Rest Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Meditate and learn to be alone without being lonely...learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in other people...A few minutes every hour, a half hour every day, a day a month, a week a year-in dedicated silence-is a goal to pursue. Marian Wright Edelman, The Measure of Our Success
Day 1 What a surprise that anti-racism work starts from a place of rest. Often the need for antiracism work starts from some type of chaos, an injury, a bruise. Whether the chaos starts externally or internally, there is a clamor for answers. Justice needs to be served undoubtedly. Where can resources be obtained? Whether part of the vocal majority or the drowned out minority, there is a beckoning to come and rest. Th is quote from Marian Wright Edelman is not easy, especially when it is applied to justice work. Aren’t there important things to do? Rallies to attend? Undoubtedly so. However, justice not rooted in rest tends to have very deleterious implications for activists. Unknowingly health conditions, stress, and verbal missteps can plague someone who doesn’t fi rst take the necessary steps to rest. The foundation of combating injustice is rest because it divests from the savior complex. It fi rst acknowledges that there has been a problem long before you have entered into the group chat. On American soil, the atrocities towards Native and Black people have been astounding. Indeed injustices towards many other ethnic groups have abounded on American soil and across the planet. All of it can’t be solved in one day, through one resource, or one conference. Today is for resting. Reflecting. Acknowledging.
Call to Act ion Spend 10 minutes alone in silence. Bring your notebook and journal your thoughts. In light of today's prayer prompt journal any things that come to mind.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
Rest is a form of Resistance
Day 2 S URELY I
HAVE COMPOSED AND QUIETED MY SOUL ;
CHILD RESTS AGAINST HIS MOTHER , WITHIN
M Y SOUL IS LIKE ME . - Psalm 131:2
A WEANED CHILD
The imagery of a child resting upon his mother is one that usually evokes a sense of warmth and safety. Intimacy. In the embrace of a parent a child instinctively knows that they can flourish and develop. They know that their needs will be met; they can be at peace. For many though, this is not the story of their childhood. Many in this nation grow up in homes that are profoundly dysfunctional, abusive. These homes are fi lled with anxiety and desperation. Historically, America has not held the flesh of all of its children the same. Many Native, black, and brown children have been brutalized. Many have been torn from their families. At the time of this writing, there are many immigrants still seeking refuge in America who are being held at the border...in very inhumane conditions. These conditions have led to unnecessary deaths for children. Undoubtedly these words are leading to anxiety rather than rest. That is ok. The rest that God provides is not a rest founded upon ignorance or platitudes. To enter God’s rest we must enter it with the truth. It cannot be a rest that allows passage based upon privilege or economic status. Neither can it be gained by race.
Call to Act ion Today, think of the rest that Jesus provides. Contrast it with the lack of rest that the world has afforded to many around this nation and the world. Pray through the thoughts and images coming to your mind and journal anything that seems relevant to you.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
You Are Not a Beast of Burden
Day 3 “R EST
IS NECESSARY FOR REFLECTION .”
Lailah Gifty Akita
Close Your Eyes by Ella Fitzgerald Close your eyes Rest your head on my shoulder and sleep Close your eyes And I will close mine
Close your eyes When you open them dear I'll be near by your side So won't you close your eyes?
Close your eyes Let's pretend that we're both counting sheep Close your eyes All this is divine
Music play Something dreamy for dancing While were here romancing It's love's holiday And love will be our guide
Music play Something dreamy for dancing While were here romancing It's love's holiday And love will be our guide
Close your eyes When you open them dear I'll be near close your eyes Close your eyes Close your eyes
These words, sung by Ella Fitzgerald, and written by Bernice Petkere beckon the listener into an almost dreamlike state as the harmonies and melodies swell and fall. Ella’s voice is a song from another age with such richness and texture. Was her music a part of your home growing up? Were you given the gift of listening to this woman sing her soul out? Th is music sets the stage for reflection today. In American society, the pace seems to verge on the frenetic. Th is pace impacts every type of person, personality type, class, body type, ethnic group, etc. differently. Today is about reflection and taking some time to be healthily introspective.
Call to Act ion Listen to Ella’s rendition of this song and take some time to reflect on your week. Th ink of your interactions with different kinds of people. What were the dominant emotions that you felt?
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
Find songs that help you feel connected to God
Day 4 F OR
THE CHOIRMASTER .
THE GLORY OF
G OD ;
A P SALM
D AVID . T HE
HEAVENS DECL ARE
THE SKIES PROCL AIM THE WORK OF
AF TER DA Y THE Y POUR FORTH SPEECH ; NIGHT AF TER NIGHT THE Y REVEAL KNOWLEDGE .
- Psalm 19:1, 2
If possible, get some time out in nature. Let the wind hit your face and let the sunshine beat down upon you. Nature has a way of reflecting God’s glory; of tutoring us. Nature beckons us in and shows us the futility of the loftiness of man-made designs and ingenuity. Beholding the beauty of God’s creation has a way of disarming even the most tormented soul and possessing one with a sort of enchantment. Nature whispers and sometimes shouts for us to behold. Reading Indigenous authors and hearing Indigenous speakers is truly special. In recent years I have had the privilege to interact with material from both Christian Native people and non-Christians. Among the many things that I have found beautiful about them is the way that they speak about the land. Nature. Trees. They speak about it in such a way that draws you in and makes you want to connect with the Divine. One of the fi rst Native people that did this for me was Kaitlin Curtice. Her book Native challenged my perception of God, how He shows up in history, and how He reveals Himself in nature. It is a truly beautiful book. There is much we can learn from Indigenous people. They aren’t monolithic and various traditions span different tribes. What many seem to have is a connection to the land that is spiritual. As Christians, we can allow that understanding to add to what we know about God instead of detracting from it. Being out in nature, letting sunlight beat down upon y g but it can also be healing/cleansing. g g your skin can not onlyy be refreshing,
Call to Act ion Spend some time in nature. Go for a brief walk. Go for a run. Swim. Journal your thoughts. As you journal and reflect, take in mind your location and think of others who may have lived in the land before you.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
Study Contemplative Prayer
Day 5 “B EING
TIRED IS PLEASANT WHEN YOU THINK WHAT HAS TIRED YOU WAS
WORTH THE PORTION OF YOUR LIFE .”
Exhaustion seems to be a fundamental part of living in the world; especially here in America. Ecclesiastes is truly right about life under the sun, about a life spent in toil/hard work. Daily our alarm clock sounds too soon. Our work email notifies us way too soon. The kids awaken from their slumber too soon. Bills seem to clamor for attention. Social media tugs at the waking mind. Every day is a new onslaught of thoughts, desires, temptations, and fears. Is the time that we spend here utilized in ways that make us the good kind of tired or just exhausted devoid of purpose. For many people, it seems to be the latter. These words are being written specifically during the time of a worldwide pandemic. The corona virus has swept through this nation and ground productivity to a halt. Many have been forced to stay at home and to do some uncomfortable self-reflection on the meaning of their work and their life. Many marginalized people haven’t had the luxury of calm self-reflection during this time. Many minorities have found themselves in very deleterious conditions as they may have been forced into unemployment. Because of the wage gap that many black and brown people already were dealing with, the corona virus has adversely impacted marginalized communities. Furthermore, because of other factors, black and brown people have found themselves at a higher likelihood of death due to contracting the illness. With such uncertainty and fear surrounding this nation, the future remains unclear. How do we order our lives in meaningful ways? How do we become preoccupied with things that make us “good tired”?
Call to Act ion Reflect upon your life and this prayer entry. Are there any areas in your life that are coming to the surface as you pray and reflect? As you think about the marginalized in society what are some of your thoughts?
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
What things hinder you from slowing down?
Day 6 “ T HOU
HAST MADE US FOR TH YSELF ,
O L ORD ,
AND OUR HEART IS
RESTLESS UNTIL IT FINDS ITS REST IN THEE .”
Augustine of Hippo, C ONFESSIONS Restless defi nes American society. Go to any major city and the hustle and bustle are at times fascinating and at times unnerving. So many people scrambling over one another all with the singular mission to be fi rst. Social media also is indicative of the restlessness of our society. Everyday young and old log onto various social media platforms vying for attention, love, acceptance, and a whole host of other things. Restless. Centering the desires of the human heart upon God is a very poetic and ambiguous undertaking. No matter how many times I try to find solace in God’s Word, Presence, and among others, I fi nd myself drawn to things that definitively do not afford me rest. Being Restless can be dehumanizing at times. Partially connecting to news outlets, words from various sources, constant notifications, and the constant input of ideas can easily lead us down the wrong path. It is easy to reduce people to another line of data when we are restless. Restlessness can obscure Imago Dei. For the evidence of this, all you have to do is look around this nation. What is the fruit of so much input? Speak to my heart, Holy Spirit Message of love, love to encourage me Lifting my heart from despair, how You love, love me, and care for me Speak to my heart now, oh Lord -Donnie McClurkin, Speak to My Heart
Call to Act ion Take this day and spend long stretches of it (defi ne long for yourself) disconnected from social media. The issue isn’t social media in the slightest. Intentionally connected to it can be life-giving. However, for today's practice disconnecting and journal some of your reactions/thoughts. If possible spend stretches disconnected from your phone in general.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
Collect a playlist of piano instrumentals
Day 7 “E VERY
PERSON NEEDS TO TAKE ONE DA Y AWA Y .
DA Y IN WHICH ONE
CONSCIOUSLY SEPARATES THE PAST FROM THE FUTURE .
J OBS ,
EMPLOYERS , AND FRIENDS C AN EXIST ONE DA Y WITHOUT ANY ONE OF US , AND IF OUR EGOS PERMIT US TO CONFESS , THE Y COULD EXIST ETERNALLY IN OUR ABSENCE .
PERSON DESERVES A DA Y AWA Y IN
WHICH NO PROBLEMS ARE CONFRONTED , NO SOLUTIONS SEARCHED FOR .
OF US NEEDS TO WITHDRAW FROM THE C ARES WHICH WILL NOT WITHDRAW FROM US .”
Maya Angelou, W OULDN ' T T AKE N OTHING
M Y J OURNE Y N OW
Rest is resistance. Rest signifies the importance of our bodies and the value that we have to ourselves, God, and others. At the end of every day when we allow ourselves the gift of sleep, we surrender ourselves to the healing embrace of sleep. Our bodies heal. Our minds rest. God is there to be ever watchful and attentive. Rest is also not just resistance personally, but it also is one of the most collective things that you can do for the collective good. Taking regular times to recharge, yes even a whole day away, helps to make you a person of endurance. One thing that causes many progressive and advocacy movements to burn out is that rest is not at the core of them. We rest for those who don’t have the luxury. Rest is our admittance that we are finite, we cannot be “on” 24/7.
Call to Act ion Take this day and rest/recharge. Depending on your life circumstances a full day might not be possible to fi nd pockets. What are some restorative practices that will help you? List those out and try to implement them. Are there ways that you can do that throughout a week instead of just on one particular day? Write down any other thoughts as you pray and dialogue with God. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 1 • R EST
End of Week Reflections Rest is self-care that leads to long term endurance. The marathon of advocating for yourself and others in a sin-sick and weary world can be exhausting. Even amid such a busy world, God causes us to rest from economic and political systems that scream for our attention. God tutors us with grace and teaches us that the commodification of our bodies is wrong.
Week 2: Educate Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:1â€“3
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, Proverbs 2:1â€“3
Day 1 Th is week is about education. Often when striving for areas of social justice people skip straight to the action stage. Tempers and emotions rage leading to hasty actions. Slowing down enough to become educated becomes critical to sustaining a lifestyle that is predicated upon advocating for the marginalized. Living a lifestyle that sees all human beings as created in the image of God takes intentional work. Yes, we incline our heart to understand God’s wisdom, His Word, and His insight. That is not in any way compromised by understanding our environment, history, and educating ourselves on the people around us. Educating ourselves becomes a spiritual act because it is the most loving thing one can do in the community. Educating yourself presupposes that you do not know it all. It acknowledges the fact that you need help to understand others and the world around you.
Call to Act ion As this week of prayerful education begins, spend some time acknowledging that you need the help of God and others to understand the world around you. Particularly when it comes to relating to others of different personality types, ethnicities, etc. it is hard to move forward without acknowledging that we need help. Journal any thoughts that come to mind.
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Educating ourselves takes time... and intention
Day 2 “S TUDY
THE PAST IF YOU WOULD DEFINE THE FUTURE .”
To embody antiracist sentiments, to become fully committed to antiracism work it takes intentional time of educating oneself on the history, both of this nation and world events. At times this will feel overwhelming. As things are uncovered there may be a temptation to shrink back. Ignorance can indeed be bliss when it comes to learning and education, particularly about areas of racism and atrocities committed against various people groups. Resist the urge to fall back into ignorance. How do we integrate educating ourselves out of ignorance and make this education a spiritual act? Is there a way to make this learning an overflow of our love for Jesus? Although it is easier said than done, the answer to these questions is most defi nitely yes. As you begin to learn more about race, racism, and history, ask God for divine help. Walking out love for God and love for humanity means being knowledgeable about barriers that would hinder that love from being free-flowing.
Call to Act ion Do some reading on the Trail of Tears. Feel free to Google it if you have to. Set aside time to research this and journal your thoughts and prayers. Monthly and yearly, when you come back to this section, research a different part of Native American history.
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When I stop and acknowledge my ignorance on any subject I admit that I am finite.
Day 3 “A NY
FOOL C AN KNOW .
T HE POINT IS TO - Albert Einstein
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fi xed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! -Psalm 119:1-8
Psalm 119 is a beautiful Psalm that sketches out the Psalmist’s journey to understand and obey the commandments of God. The love for God’s Law is all over each verse as well as the inclination to understand/comprehend. Often, these verses are strictly used to talk about God’s written Word, and that is well and good. It is admirable. There is defi nitely an original context to these verses that need not be ignored in order to rush to an immediate application. When we take a step back from these verses, what we can see is the hunger and passion to not remain in the dark when it comes to God. Th is same heart can be applied to the world around us to understand. Can we understand what people are going through around us? Can we have eyes to see what God is doing? The Psalmist wanted to understand in a way that brings about a change of actions.
Call to Act ion Find the news for today; both locally and globally. As you scroll through some of the major headlines, read some of the articles. Devote some time to this in increments that are doable for you. As you read, reflect on how these headlines are impacting both you and the world. Are there places of privilege that you have that influence how you read these headlines/ articles? Feel free to journal your thoughts with some instrumental music in the background. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 2 • E DUC ATE
Have you read Frederick Douglass' book?
Day 4 “E DUC ATION IS THE PASSPORT TO THE FUTURE , FOR TOMORROW BELONGS TO THOSE WHO PREPARE FOR IT TODA Y .” - Malcolm X Including Malcolm X in a Christian devotional may seem racy/controversial. Often, his work towards eradicating racism is obscured. For many white Christians...yeah even white people in general Malcolm X presents too radical of a worldview. His analysis of race in America seems to be full of condemnation/censure. How can we take the words of this man to heart when he didn’t even seem to be a Christian? The answer is Imago Dei. Malcolm X lived during a specific time marked by Black men and women being brutalized. He also was a man that was a byproduct of a system of latent racism. Being a Christian, being nice, being what we think of as a “good messenger” doesn’t determine our ability to listen and learn. The mature Christian can listen and ask for a heart of wisdom. America’s brutal history set the stage for radical Black women and men to become weary with doing things in a neat and Christian way. That seemingly had done very little to improve the quality of life for Black people.
Call to Act ion Take time to study the massacre that happened in Tulsa, OK. Look up Black Wall Street, as well as many other times where Black communities were destroyed, ending the possibility of generational wealth here in America. Th is is a weighty exercise so just do a bit at a time. Th is is a monthly practice. Journal your thoughts as you read. Pray through what you are learning. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 2 • E DUC ATE
What are 5 ways you can overcome ignorance in your life?
Day 5 T HOSE
WHO C ANNOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT .
- George Santayana The history of America (and many other countries) concerning the treatment of immigrants is abominable. Even going back to the origins of America, Native people were brutalized, subjugated, and pushed back all across this land. Over time, their ways of life were diminished to make way for the dominant culture (those of European descent) to take their place at the top of the hierarchy of power. When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, -1 Chronicles 16:19-21 Today, immigrants, whether they are legal or undocumented are viewed by many in a harsh light. Stereotypes surrounding culture, language acquisition, work ethic abound. Although many come to America in search of a better life full of opportunities and promise, they are met often with scorn, political red tape, fi nancial hardships, and a complicated path to citizenship.
Call to Act ion Take time to study the lives of immigrants. There are many articles on the life of women and men who desire to become American citizens. Also, please study the history of immigration with examples such as Japanese internment camps here in America. Prayerfully reflect on what these experiences must’ve felt like to the outsider wanting to belong to American society. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 2 • E DUC ATE
What was the last book you read by a Native author?
Day 6 T HAT ' S JUST THE WA Y IT IS T HINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME T HAT ' S JUST THE WA Y IT IS Tupac Shakur Tupac Shakur was a brilliant man. Although many saw his idiosyncrasies displayed in the media and his trouble with law enforcement as well as other rappers, Tupac was much more than baggage. Th is brilliant man had many critiques for the world around him as well as structures of power that actively oppressed Black communities. Some of Tupac’s songs had a very sober air that elicited pain and reflection. America has not been kind to Black bodies. The marks of cruelty have been visited upon Black men and women since the time of the fi rst slave ship arriving on American shores. Cruelty has continued throughout American history leading to gross abuses of power and racism embedded in almost every facet of American life. Lack of resources, financial opportunities, active discrimination in the housing sector, and many other factors have led to much of Black society remaining far behind their white counterparts.
Call to Act ion Study the history of Jim Crow, the formation of HBCU’s, and the history of sharecropping. Also please study the history of Black people in entertainment. (Although we see many Black women and men in entertainment, the history in regards to Black people in entertainment is not pretty.) Take one of these areas of focus, and pray and reflect. What type of thoughts comes up for you as you study? Can you imagine the hardships of being a Black person? What do you think that God would have to say about the hardships of Black people on American soil? S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 2 • E DUC ATE
Name 5 Asian authors
Day 7 “ T HE BEST THING FOR BEING SAD ," REPLIED M ERLIN , BEGINNING TO PUFF AND BLOW , " IS TO LEARN SOMETHING . T HAT ' S THE ONLY THING THAT NEVER FAILS . Y OU MA Y GROW OLD AND TREMBLING IN YOUR ANATOMIES , YOU MA Y LIE AWAKE AT NIGHT LISTENING TO THE DISORDER OF YOUR VEINS , YOU MA Y MISS YOUR ONLY LOVE , YOU MA Y SEE THE WORLD ABOUT YOU DEVASTATED BY EVIL LUNATICS , OR KNOW YOUR HONOUR TRAMPLED IN THE SEWERS OF BASER MINDS . THEN IT .
TO LEARN .
IS ONLY ONE THING FOR IT
WH Y THE WORLD WAGS AND WHAT WAGS
IS THE ONLY THING WHICH THE MIND C AN NEVER EXHAUST ,
NEVER ALIENATE , NEVER BE TORTURED BY , NEVER FEAR OR DISTRUST , AND NEVER DREAM OF REGRET TING . YOU .
IS THE ONLY THING FOR
WHAT A LOT OF THINGS THERE ARE TO LEARN .”
T.H. White, The Once and Future King A large part of educating ourselves on the world around us lies in our theology. The theological study helps us understand who God is, what He is like, and His dealings with humanity. Typically, much of the thought surrounding theological discourse revolves around the thoughts of dead white men. Seminaries all across this nation have reading lists comprised mostly of white scholars, leading to a very truncated Gospel message. There is a need for a diverse theological table if we are to understand God and humanity rightly. Studying a diverse body of theologians as well as Christian traditions helps to ward off many of the mistakes that come as a result of listening to people who talk and speak the way that we do. Since the death of Jesus, there are many women and men, from various ethnic groups, who have articulated thoughts about God. Leaning into these voices is critical. When we do we can proclaim a Gospel message that resonates with the vast amount of people that dwell on this planet. We also are challenged in what we consider orthodoxy...which is a great thing.
Call to Act ion Begin a list on your phone or paper of theologians of color. Make categories large enough that you will add to throughout your lifetime. As you search for the names of theologians of color, reflect on why you have never heard of many of these theologians.
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End of Week Reflections In light of all that youâ€™ve learned this week, how will you be different? Hopefully, you will incorporate this devotional into your everyday life and with the rhythms of your year. Education requires full integration of your whole personhood. The days of ignoring things blindly are over for those committed to antiracism. Gaining a heart of wisdom is weighty, but it doesnâ€™t have to be done apart from The Spirit of God. As we educate ourselves, we can ask The Spirit for grace upon grace. As we listen to people, and as we watch interactions, God is with us. Every time you get to this portion of your month, ask God for more ways to self educate.
Week 3: Work & Repair Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:1–6
Day 1 Th is week is about incorporating restorative acts of justice with our prayer lives. We can pray AND go as an extension of our lives before The Father. A grounding book of The Bible for much of this week is the Book of Acts. Th is Book is often noted for the Acts of the Apostles; the signs and wonders, etc. In addition to recording the works of the Apostles, the Book also chronicles how they dealt with racial tensions and the inclusion of the Gentiles. The followers of Jesus faced a challenge of leading believers in how to incorporate faith with works as well as orthodoxy. Notice in the above passage in Acts that there arose a breakdown in service to widows. When reading this passage it is easy to skip over the fact that the distinct difference in the widows is ethnic. Some widows were being taken care of and some were not when it came to the daily distribution of resources. We do not know how long this breakdown occurred, only that it took the Hellenistic widows crying out for attention to have their situation rectified. What does it feel like to be in a marginalized state and be in the midst of God’s people...and still be overlooked? Rather than letting this continue, the twelve provided a system to care for the needs of everyone in an equitable fashion.
Call to Act ion Many portions of this country have “Hellenistic widows” crying out for attention. They are crying out for equity. Can you identify some? What must they be feeling like? What are some things that you can partner with God, your church, and other individuals to rectify these situations?
God, eliminate the distance between what I know, what I feel, and what I do.
Day 2 DON 'T JUST LEARN , EXPERIENCE . DON 'T JUST READ , ABSORB . DON 'T JUST CHANGE, TRANSFORM . D ON 'T JUST RELATE, ADVOCATE. DON 'T JUST PROMISE, PROVE. D ON 'T JUST CRITICIZE , ENCOURAGE .
DON'T JUST THINK, PONDER . DON'T JUST TAKE , GIVE. D ON'T JUST SEE, FEEL. D ON’T JUST DREAM , DO . DON'T JUST HEAR, LISTEN. D ON'T JUST TALK , ACT. D ON'T JUST TELL, SHOW. D ON'T JUST EXIST, LIVE .”
Roy T. Bennett, THE LIGHT IN THE HEART Our spheres of influence, the people that we interact with regularly, are interesting, aren’t they? Usually, these spheres include families, coworkers, friends, baristas at our regular coffee shop, etc. These people get to see us in various circumstances whether it is at our best or our worst. The everyday interactions that we have with people can be the arena where we walk out our love for God. In these interactions, if we approach them prayerfully, we have the ability to lift people, repair damage, and refresh perspectives. Just a bit of thoughtfulness, prayer, and attentiveness can transform a mundane encounter into something extremely powerful for those we come into contact with.
Call to Act ion Two Different Exercises: 1. Prayerfully reflect on your interactions with people this past week. Were there any opportunities that you missed to help someone substantially? Why did you hesitate? Journal any reflections that you may have prayerfully. Pray through ways that you can act now to rectify the situation. 2. Are there any people in your life that you could bless fi nancially? If so, prayerfully do it. Break down the wall between knowing something and doing something. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 3 • F I X & R EPA IR
Pray for Black women
Day 3 “W OMANISTS
MUST SOMETIMES BE ICONOCL ASTS FOR THE SAKE OF THE
HEALTH AND WHOLENESS OF BL ACK WOMEN AND OTHER MARGINALIZED PEOPLES AND COMMUNITIES .”
-M ITZI S MITH
The work of any effective change agent is one of promoting thriving, healing, and wholeness in society. To do this at times they have had to be disruptive to bring about the most amount of good. Iconoclasts go against the grain of what is considered the norm. Though it may seem rebellious at times, iconoclastic work can defi nitely be spiritual/holy work. They destroy very tightly held beliefs whether that is religious or otherwise. Womanist scholars have had to hold this place in the recent Christian tradition. Black women, in general, have long held an important place in disrupting the status quo to advocate for the wholeness of their gender, community, and other communities. Bearing the cruelty of this nation for their ethnicity AND their gender, black women have had to retain an inner strength that truly must come from God. Th roughout chattel slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the harshness of our president days, black women reflect the glory of God in unique ways as they shout to be heard. Th is shouting is seldom about self-promotion. When black women rise they bring others with them.
Call to Act ion Black women are in a crisis in this nation. They are suffering in major ways medically as they give birth. They are underpaid nationally for work they are qualified to do. They are sexually assaulted at alarming rates. They are also silenced in the church. Research any of these areas or an area of your choice. Reflect on what being an advocate for a Black woman would look like. Th ink about Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman as well for a beginning to your time of reflection. Armed with knowledge, prayer, and reflection, what organizations can you give to? What Black women can you advocate for in your sphere of influence? How can you attune to the voice of Black women better? S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 3 • F I X & R EPA IR
The history of Native Americans beckons us to lament, pray, and act. Restorative acts of justice, done in small ways, go very far.
Day 4 “N OW
L ORD C AME TO J ONAH THE SON OF A MIT TAI , “A RISE , GO TO N INEVEH , THAT GREAT CIT Y , AND C ALL OUT AGAINST IT , FOR THEIR EVIL HAS COME UP BEFORE ME .” B UT J ONAH ROSE TO FLEE TO T ARSHISH FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE L ORD . H E WENT DOWN TO J OPPA AND FOUND A SHIP GOING TO T ARSHISH . S O HE PAID THE FARE AND WENT DOWN INTO IT , TO GO WITH THEM TO T ARSHISH , AWA Y FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE L ORD .” Jonah 1:1–3 THE WORD OF THE
SA YING ,
Jonah-treat this as a devotional passage...how do we go throughout our day ignoring the Ninevites? Are we mad with God? The story of Jonah is very challenging in some surprising ways. We know that Jonah was a prophet given a specific word of repentance. God had a message of warning for the people of Nineveh, a great city, and wanted Jonah to be His messenger. Jonah was resistant extremely to interacting with the “other”. Th is man of God heard the Word of The Lord and went in the opposite direction, resulting in his capture. He found himself in the belly of a fish as he wrestles with completing the clear call that God placed upon him. Upon completing his mission to preach to Nineveh, we find that the city repents and is spared from God’s wrath. Th is upsets Jonah greatly enough that he confronts God.
Call to Act ion Jonah’s mission was one of mercy. He was meant to bring a word that would result in a window of blessing for the people of Nineveh. What are the Nineveh's in your own life? What areas do you fear/disdain the “other”? How has God called you to minister or love those who are different from you? Journal your thoughts as you pray and reflect. Then, make plans (even simple ones) to go, and act. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 3 • F I X & R EPA IR
Keep us focused on the work in front of us Lord
Day 5 “ T IME
DOESN ’ T HEAL EMOTIONAL PAIN , YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO LET GO .”
- Roy T. Bennett, T HE L IGHT
The wind whistles through the trees on a beautiful day. The sound of rushing water calmly floats through the air as the sound of birds chirping and children playing splits the morning air. Another day in the land that has now been named America. What was it like for Native/ Indigenous people here before the ravages of supremacy trampled through this land? What was life like unmarked by broken peace treaties, twisted lies, and industrialization that forever changed the American landscape? It is important to recognize, honor, and preserve the history of those women and men who called America home long before the “discovery” of Christopher Colombus. These brave souls had a way of life that has been obscured often and attempts to nullify culture have been widespread. Learning to let go of the past is a trite saying. It can be very passive as well. Part of letting go of America’s ugly past is by listening, lamenting, and acting on behalf of Native people.
Call to Act ion Listen to Indigenous speakers and music. What does it make you feel like? Reflect on the History of Native people. As you think about these people made in the image of God, prayerfully consider ways that God would have you advocate on behalf of these people. They are still here. They are still beautiful.
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Keep our hearts from turning away from the orphan, the widow, and the stranger in our midst.
Day 6 I SEE NO CHANGES ALL I SEE IS
TAKE THE EVIL OUT THE PEOPLE THEY ' LL BE ACTING RIGHT 'CAUSE BOTH BLACK AND WHITE IS SMOKIN ' CRACK TONIGHT AND ONLY TIME WE CHILL IS
MISPLACED HATE MAKES DISGRACE TO RACES
WE UNDER I WONDER WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THIS
WHEN WE KILL EACH OTHER
O NE BETTER PLACE, LET 'S ERASE
IT TAKES SKILL TO BE REAL ,
TIME TO HEAL EACH OTHER
Tupac Shakur Over the years there has been much talk about the need for reparations to be given to the descendants of African American slaves. The pushback against reparations has been severe for years as well. Why would America pay Black people for crimes committed against them many years ago? Everyone who committed the heinous crimes are dead and indeed those who were enslaved are dead also. Repairing the breach is a biblical concept. Making amends/restitution for wrongs done is something that can be found throughout the pages of the Bible. Even when God delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, He didn’t deliver them without tangible things. The scars of slavery and the ensuing struggle for the ability to survive in this harsh land have greatly worn on Black people. The spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health of Black people in this nation has been adversely impacted because of systemic racism that has been in motion for many decades. To be truly free, to break the cycle, reparations must be given.
Call to Act ion The need for reparations from the American government is apparent. Closing the wealth gap between Black and white people here in America would be a huge step forward in healing the racial divide that is present. It would also go a long way in the healing process of forgiveness. Lest we stop short there though, what things can you do to live a life of reparations? Are there ways that you can give back to Black people in your sphere of influence? Are there organizations that you can support? Are there ways you can help people fi nancially/spiritually? Are there people you need to forgive? Reparations are about blessing and repairing. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 3 • F I X & R EPA IR
Day 7 MY
HOPE IS THAT
WILL TAKE THE GOOD FROM MY EXPERIENCES
AND EXTRAPOL ATE THEM FURTHER INTO AREAS WITH WHICH UNFAMILIAR .
SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THAT DIFFERENCE
WILL BE IN MY JUDGING . MY GENDER AND MY
B UT I ACCEPT THERE WILL BE SOME BASED L ATINA HERITAGE . - Sonia Sotomayor
The beauty of Latinx immigrants in America is undeniable. They are hardworking. They are funny. They are represented in seemingly every job sector. They have hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They are musical. They bring a fl avor to America that makes us all richer because we get to interact with them. Today, the war over their image remains. Gross stereotypes of their work ethic infuse our media and various other platforms. Right now (as I write this publication) there are many immigrants held in adverse conditions at our borders. How can we have an ethic of life that doesn’t include these beautiful ones? How can we build the best country without their unique perspectives helping to shape our corporations, government, etc? These beautiful ones are created in the image of God. Reflect on that.
Call to Act ion Do you have a life that incorporates Latinx people? Do you support organizations that advocate for them? Can you pray for their entry into America? Can you pray for an America that would embrace them fully?
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End of Week Reflections Working in a way that is full of the life of God can be tricky. It is easy to do much of the work in this section in your strength. Many groups do much of this work full time. Some are Christian. Some are not. As you come back to this week throughout your year, remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. The idea is to work and repair in ways that are sustainable rather than f lashy. Incorporating this into our lifestyle is a lifelong process. This is doubly so as the cares and concerns of this world seek to focus our gaze inward. Looking to others takes intentionality and Godâ€™s help.
Week 4: Joy Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:1–3
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9–12
Day 1 Th is week is about incorporating joy both as a spiritual practice and as an antiracist ethic. In much of antiracism work, there seems to be a lot of time spent on pointing out history, trauma, abuse, and even some practical ways of repairing the broken places individually and in society. Sustained energy for antiracism has to come from the place where things are going. What is the goal post of all of this work and advocacy? Revelation 7 can be a grounding and centering biblical text when thinking about the end goal of advocacy. Here John, in his heavenly encounter, is taken to a scene where he sees every tribe, tongue, people, and nation represented before the Th rone of God. On the sea of glass, the whole host of heaven is gathered with a unity of purpose to worship God but with a diversity of expression. He doesn’t make it a special point to say that everyone is uniform. Even here differences are kept alive and well. The “colorblind” gospel is nonexistent. Th is is where we are heading and this vision can sustain us in times where we feel weary and discouraged. When we feel misunderstood or we are misunderstanding our neighbor, this heavenly scene is our anchor in the storm.
Call to Act ion Spend time reading through Revelation 7 with instrumental music playing in the background. As you prayerfully reflect on this passage what are your dominant feelings and emotions? How does our society differ from what you are seeing in this scene?
What can America truly be?
Day 2 “A LWA YS
BELIEVE THAT THE IMPOSSIBLE IS POSSIBLE .”
What can this country look like fully healed, and fully decolonized? The possibilities of life for every human being dwelling here are endless in a country that has taken the time to fully divest from toxic systems of relating to one another, taken ownership of past guilt, and done the work to heal individually and corporately. Taking the time to dream of the endless possibilities is a spiritual act and breathes life into the heart. Dreaming also more acutely points out all that isn’t. Those things that don’t align with peaceable, harmonious, and gentle living stand out severely when compared with present-day realities. Believing that the impossible is possible isn’t for the naive. Many people are operating under wishful thinking. That type of thinking will do nothing to save us from issues in our individual lives or issues that are systemic in our nation.
Call to Act ion Spend some time dreaming about your life as a person. What are the things that you would love to accomplish if you were unencumbered? Prayerfully reflect on dreams for America as well. What could different Americans do in an equitable nation?
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What does racial unity look like?
Day 3 I
SAVOR LIFE .
YOU HAVE ANYTHING THAT THREATENS LIFE ... IT
PRODS YOU INTO STEPPING BACK AND REALLY APPRECIATING THE VALUE OF LIFE AND TAKING FROM IT WHAT YOU C AN .
- Sonia Sotomayor
Daily the debate between pro-life and pro-choice rages in this nation. The controversy over abortion is hinged upon many different factors that cannot be reduced even to religious differences. Taking a step back though, it is important that we expand the topic to cultivating a love for life. A consistent ethic of abundant life is difficult. We spend much of our days tolerating living rather than showing up fully present. Today, many people will be born both in this nation and in others around the world. Many of these children will be met with the joys of parents who have long awaited the birth of their child. Still, others will be met with disappointment or fear. Another sad fact is that many across the world will lose their life to various forms of violence, neglect, or accidents. These thoughts can temper us. They can ground us. We have the ability to take a look at our lives and the lives of the people we come across and assess them as valuable.
Call to Act ion If possible, take time to assess people around you even if that is in your own home. Take a walk in the park. Go for a run. What are the valuable traits that you can ascertain about the people around you? Journal any thoughts that come to mind.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS â€˘ W EEK 4 â€˘ J OY
The love of God compels us to receive His love and give it away.
Day 4 “I TELL MY STUDENTS , 'W HEN YOU GET THESE JOBS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SO BRILLIANTLY TRAINED FOR , JUST REMEMBER THAT YOUR REAL JOB IS THAT IF YOU ARE FREE , YOU NEED TO FREE SOMEBODY ELSE . I F YOU HAVE SOME POWER , THEN YOUR JOB IS TO EMPOWER SOMEBODY ELSE . T HIS IS NOT JUST A GRAB - BAG C ANDY GAME .” - Toni Morrison Privilege is a tricky word in our present context. It has the power to polarize a room, especially if the term “white privilege” is used. The reality is that we all have been given some type of privilege based upon the circumstances of our birth. No person has achieved success devoid of help or a context that led them there. What we do with our privilege is what defines us. Crafting our privilege to make space for others, to make tables for others, can be one of the most sacrificial and spiritual acts that we can take part in. Like Jesus, in Philippians 2 it requires that we divest from certain privileges in order to make others free. Though circumstances would choke out this sacrifice, or our selfishness, nevertheless we must persist in honoring God.
Call to Act ion Spend some time in prayer and reflection thinking about your privileges. Th ink about your gender, your educational background, religious upbringing, etc. How would God have you use that as a springboard to help others? Are there advantages that you have that you could use to help others in very tangible ways?
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 4 • J OY
The hope for a world steeped in darkness is rooted in the heart of God.
Day 5 “ T HOUGH
WE DO NOT WHOLLY BELIEVE IT YET , THE INTERIOR LIFE IS A
REAL LIFE , AND THE INTANGIBLE DREAMS OF PEOPLE HAVE A TANGIBLE EFFECT ON THE WORLD .”
- James Baldwin
Children are a beautiful blessing. Often when left to their own devices, raised in love, they learn to express themselves in many ways. Have you ever been around a young child sharing their wishes? Unhindered these children become animated as they hurriedly tell you of what they desire to do in the next hour, day, month, and year. If you inquire just a bit, they will give you more than you could ask or imagine regarding information. Earlier in the week personal dreams and the dreams for a better America were brought up. Th is is a good practice. Th is is very important in regularly coming back to a place of hope. What about nurturing the interior life of others though? What does it look like to stoke the flame of dreams in people, especially the marginalized? If you’ve never seen the look in a young black child’s eyes as they receive confidence to do something that the world has told them repeatedly that they couldn’t...that is truly tragic.
Call to Act ion Find a way to nurture the dreams of others today. Spend time with God and let Him give you ideas on how to do this. As you reflect and go, let this nurturing of people be tangible. It can be as simple as sending a text message to a friend. It can be inquiring about a person’s thoughts. Whatever you need to do...connect with God in this way.
S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 4 • J OY
Give endurance Lord to make antiracism a lifestyle and not just a hashtag.
Day 6 “O UR
JOB IS TO BE AN AWAKE PEOPLE ... UT TERLY CONSCIOUS , TO AT TEND TO OUR WORLD .”
- Louis Owens
Much discourse has been had around the word “woke” in America. The word is used as a pejorative depending upon the setting and who is using it. When it is used in this negative connotation, “social justice warrior” is usually not too far behind. Rather than squabbling about the nature of where the word comes from, it seems best to point people to this Louis Owens quote. Being a people that remain awake is a good thing and allows us to attend to the world around us. The very pull of this world seems to be moving towards self-deprecating humor, selfishness, and greed. As the love of many grows cold, having a heart that is full of love is not something that will happen accidentally. Being a person that is conscious of the joys and pains within our hearts and in the hearts of others takes discipline.
Call to Act ion Spend time reading through Mark 2:1-12. In this story often people usually quickly look at the story at face value. Take time in this section. Who are the main characters? Who is at the center of this story? What are the themes that are being highlighted here? In what ways can we emulate the themes here in our personal life? How can we emulate this in our church? How can we emulate this in society as a whole? S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 4 • J OY
Day 7 S O P ETER OPENED HIS MOUTH AND G OD SHOWS NO PARTIALIT Y , BUT IN
“ T RULY I
EVERY NATION ANYONE WHO FEARS
HIM AND DOES WHAT IS RIGHT IS ACCEPTABLE TO HIM .
- Acts 10:34, 35 Loving mercy. Doing justly. Walking humbly before God in such a way that shows no partiality is a life surrendered to God. Often, Christianity has been portrayed as a superior religion, dominating all other ways of thinking. When we can integrate what we believe with what we feel and with what we do in ways that honor God, our nation has hope. Our personal lives have hope. Part of showing no partiality is embracing people at the core of who they are. People of different religions, sexuality, and political parties surround us. Embracing them does not mean that we have to agree. Embracing them means we attempt to find Imago Dei in them over and above what we think of their opinions or actions.
Call to Act ion Find a way to engage with someone out of your comfort zone. (Please be safe though.) Whether that is with learning about a religious difference, or someone that you have kept on the outside of your sphere of influence...engage. Find a way to connect with them and attempt to see them through God’s perspective. S U BV ER SI V E S T I L L N ESS • W EEK 4 • J OY
End of Week Reflections Closing this week in praying through joy is intentional. Having a rhythm of joy in the life of a believer, especially as it relates to being an antiracist prevents you from burnout and fatigue. This way of relating to the world also helps to believe for the best and to see the bigger picture. Let this week continually renew you.
When Will We See by Amber Martin When will we see How many deaths do there have to be For White America to wake up To the systems that are unjust Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed Do you know the hashtags that should be alive If they were white they would have survived Why can’t we allow Black people to thrive? Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and more How much more are we willing to endure Until our blindness is removed and we see clearly through All the political messages spewed Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice The list goes on, we must see the price Of the racist systems that perpetuate these executings The media, our schools, and health care colluding We must raise our voices for justice right now Laying down our privilege and humbling ourselves Can’t we see it’s not political These are human beings with value Yet with veils over our eyes we say “We don’t know all the facts” Can’t we see the impact Of our callous words without feeling Lord come with revealing Black lives matter
Unity in the Church For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might. -Ephesians 1:15–19 Paul’s prayer is beautiful here. Directed at a collection of believers, he prays for the corporate body to have their very being enlightened with the manifold wisdom that The Spirit provides. Th is prayer is not a prayer built on rugged individualism that sits at the center of American life. All the saints together can see the immeasurable greatness of God’s power. Another spiritual practice that we can utilize in order to cultivate this type of prayer and heart is to study theologians from a variety of faith traditions, genders, and ethnic groups. By regularly engaging in this spiritual practice we keep our mind vigilant for all of the ways that God would speak. He often uses those obscure or foolish things to confound us. We fi nd Him when we are looking outside of our protected spaces. Go on a journey of researching different denominations and practices that are different from yours. Often people fear stepping out of their comfort zone but it is ok. Learn to dialogue with God in the midst of all the ways that exist in the world. There are so many Christian traditions and it is the height of hypocrisy to think that one denomination has a monopoly on pointing people to Jesus. As you search out different traditions, fi nd theologians who don’t look or think like you. Th is will truly expedite the process of growth and understanding. It will also show you the vast nature of God. People of every different skin color have been thinking about God for centuries. *It is worth noting that often people note the fear of the “slippery slope” when thinking about studying others out of their particular tradition. Keeping to strict lines of orthodoxy is seen as the way to keep away from this danger. A thought-God is the One who keeps us. Studying others only strengthens why we believe what we believe. There is no need to fear if we study with a heart of humility and a genuine heart to understand. 87
Leaning into the Voices of Women... Particularly Black Women As I think about practices that root and ground us spiritually to do the work of anti-racism, I must reiterate what I stated in the opening of this book...it must take direction from anti-misogyny. Women have a powerful and distinct part to play in displaying what it looks like to live in a world that is predicated upon equality. Women have had integral parts to play throughout the Biblical narrative, even in the life, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Though largely ignored by the world, women are seen and heard by God. From Bathsheba to Hagar to Mary the mother of Jesus. In our particular context, it is very important to highlight the spiritual practice of listening to the voice of Black women. Again, listening to black women is spiritual. It goes against the pull of this world that would want to silence, abuse, and choke out the testimony of women in general, but especially Black women. Taking a cursory glance at history will show that the voice of women has been marginalized, but do your homework about the violence done on Black women. It is horrifying. Daily they bear a burden. Though they are misunderstood by the world, they are beautiful before the eyes of God.
How Do We Listen to Black Women? We listen to Black women by fi rst turning to our spheres of influence. Wherever Black women show up in our lives it is almost guaranteed that they are under the weight of expectations that are too much for them. Still, they persevere in spite of these misunderstandings. Listening looks like praying for these women. Listening looks like stopping short of judgments and leaning in with a question. Listening looks like fi nding a way to uplift rather than asserting your own opinion over them. We listen to Black women by turning outward to society. We pray fervently that the beauty of Black women would be seen by all. We tune into podcasts that center Black women. We support products and businesses that are founded by and in tune with the needs of Black women...even if we are not Black women. We buy books that are written by and for Black women...again...even if we are not Black women. 89
Listening to Black women is a comprehensive lifestyle that is not achieved in a day. The journey is long and many mistakes will be made along the way. Embarking on this path is not about Black supremacy. What it does is it attunes us to modes of thinking and ways of being that will challenge, provoke, and ultimately enrich us. Listening to Black women allows us to see life through lenses that may be foreign to us. I close this by saying that we listen to Black women by actively resisting corporations, individuals, and systems that either actively or subtly oppress Black women.
Resources In the journey to embracing the fullness of Imago Dei, yes the bare minimum of that being anti-racist, many resources can help us. Hopefully, this devotional has been a blessing to you. These resources may challenge and sting, but hopefully, you will lean into the uncomfortable feelings and fi nd God there. The way forward to embracing anti-racism as a part of our spiritual practices/ethics is through the doorway of being uncomfortable. As you sit with these resources you will feel stretched. You will disagree. You will discredit internally what is being said. All those reactions are normal as we grow and develop. The key is not staying there. Hearing a diverse perspective of opinions is one of the ways we seek to treasure and honor others. It breaks down the dividing line between us as individuals and to society as a whole. Below you will fi nd a small list of resources that may help you on your journey. Blessings!
Podcasts • Spark My Muse-Lisa Delay • Sub:Culture Inc. Presents: The Hive • Truth’s Table • Protaganistas • Modern Faith by Neichelle Guidry • Inverse Podcast by Jarrod McKenna and Drew Hart • The Stoop • Code Switch on NPR • Jude 3 Project
Books • The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby • I Found God in Me by Mitzi Smith • Native by Kaitlin Curtice • Paul and Gender by Cynthia Westfall • The Scandal of Redemption by Oscar Romero
About Sub:Culture Incorporated Sub:Culture Inc. is a Christian non-profit that helps churches, parachurches, and other christian institutions effectively minister with and to Black college students in America. Our mission is to eradicate the spiritual, cultural, and sociological barriers that impede the faith of Black college students. Our services include advocacy, advising, education, and training.
We specialize in: • Educational guides and curriculum • Staff & leadership training • Financial resourcing • Workshops and seminars • Campus/young adult strategy and consultation • Scholarship opportunities
In closing... For too long the work of advocacy has been pitted against the testimony of Christians. Much of the work that has been created in the work surrounding destroying systemic racism leaves the spiritual life relatively untouched. This project was crafted in a way that would integrate your spirit, soul, and body to create a life that incorporates antiracism. By creating this devotional, it is the hope that we can live in a way that fully acknowledges that people are created in the image of God.
““W WH AT A
W E HO HOLD O LD H HER ER E , T OGETHER OGET OG ETHE ET HER HE R IN O OUR UR H A N DS , AR A E TH THE E PE P E AR R LS L
OF F A F FAITHFUL AITH AI THFU TH FUL FU L, B BR R ILL IILLI L I A N T , A N D PR LL PROPHETIC PROP OPHE OP HE E TI TIC C CU CULTUR C LTUR LT UR AL A S SHEPHER HEPH HE PHER PH ER D W HO H O LO LONGS O NG NGS S TO S SEE EE T THE HE P PEOPLE EOPL EO P E OF PL
M ADE AD E W HOL HOLE H OLE OL E ..””
Tamice Tami Ta mice mi ce N Namae a ae S am Spencer, penc pe ncer nc er,, Fo er Foun Founder unde un der de r & CE CEO O of S Sub:Culture ub:C ub :C C ul u tu t re IInc. n . nc
The tensions in America over racism have spilled over into the streets. Protests have now been seen across various cities both within this nation and other nations. With all of the chaos there has been various answers given to how to affect change. How can a Christian have an ethic of antiracism that is rooted in the Scriptures and imago dei? Th is antiracist devotional gives a unique approach to the devotional landscape and merges prayer practices with restorative acts of justice.
Sub:Culture Incorporated 732 Eden Way North, Ste E #216 Chesapeake, VA 23320 w w w.SubCultureInc.org
The tensions in America over racism have spilled over into the streets. Protests have now been seen across various cities both within this n...
Published on Oct 3, 2020
The tensions in America over racism have spilled over into the streets. Protests have now been seen across various cities both within this n...