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2017 Daily Devotions

Daily Devotion Friday, December 29, 2017

Readings

Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa) – to build our stores, shops, and other businesses to profit from them together.  -Kwanzaa Day 4

Purpose (Nia) – to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Kwanzaa Day 5

When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. Ethiopian proverb

A Word of Hope

About 100 years ago, in Tulsa, Okla., a few hundred miles from Dallas, Black Wall Street sprang up on the segregated north side of the city in a neighborhood called Greenwood. African-Americans were drawn to the city for the oil – just like others flocked to the city for the boom of the early 1900s. Also referred to as Little Africa, the area of town thrived with superior schools, banks, hotels, cafes, clothiers, movie theaters and homes with indoor plumbing. Black Wall Street is a wonderful example of how African-Americans came together to build businesses and successful communities that remembered the greatness of the people whose ancestors were from Africa.

Another example comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, We Were Eight Years in Power, where he collects essays about the eight years of Pres. Obama’s years leading our country and he reminds the world that right after the Civil War, African-Americans successfully governed South Carolina.

I wish the stories ended here. Ended happy. That we could stop here, and say this was the beginning of vibrant communities of people of all colors working together for a better future for all our kids. But we need to know and own what happened to these communities. In both cases white fear and notions of white supremacy ruled the day. Black Wall Street was destroyed by whites who killed as many as 300 African Americans and left more than 9,000 homeless after the area was burned to the ground in 1921. It all started because a white woman accused a Black man of attempted sexual assault, which the state and locals used as an excuse to attack. In South Carolina, whites regained control and instituted Jim Crow. As Coates reminds us with a WEB Du Bois: “If there was one thing that South Carolina feared more than bad Negro government, it was good Negro government.”

We’d have to be blind to look around our world and see that this backlash against successful Black individuals and communities isn’t happening today. It seems like we continue to fight the same battles over and over. I am even mad at my ancestors, our ancestors, for not solving this already. But here we are … and I am wondering what would happen if we truly believed the Ethiopian proverb: When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion? I wonder how as a white woman, I can add my spider web to the cause? How I can know history, not to repeat it, but to consciously do something different than my ancestors, our ancestors did? How can I help? How can we help better live out the very biblical idea from the early church to come together as supportive communities?

All the believers stayed together and shared everything. They sold their land and the things they owned. Then they divided the money and gave it to those who needed it. The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the Temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. Acts 2: 44-46

Prayer

Creator: Help us to have new stories to tell … help us celebrate the successes of African American communities – and honor African American history all months of the year. Help us support and honor African American communities, businesses and heritage. Help us to be the spider webs united to tie up racism and hate, and banish them from our world. Help us be the ones we were waiting for. Amen

Devotion Author

Mary Warejcka

Daily Devotion Thursday, December 28, 2017

Scripture

 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into… Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 2: 14-15

A Word of Hope

If we look at the current state of global and national affairs today, we might agree that we could use an infusion of the third Kwanzaa principle-- Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility.  The purpose of this principle is "To build and maintain our community together and to make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together." Ujima entails a “commitment to active and informed togetherness on matters of common interest. It is also recognition and respect of the fact that without collective work and struggle, progress is impossible and liberation unthinkable.” http://www.endarkenment.com/kwanzaa/nguzosaba/ujima.htm

Another compelling implication of the term is that “Ujima… means that we accept the fact that we are collectively responsible for our failures and setbacks as well as our victories and achievements. And this holds true not only on the national level, but also on the level of family and organization or smaller units. Such a commitment … encourages a vigorous capacity for self-criticism and self-correction which is indispensable to our strength, defense and development as a people.”  Given the current state of finger pointing and tweet-wars in government particularly, we could all benefit from self-reflection about our behavior and a posture of humble forgiveness-seeking when we are wrong.

This principle of Kwanzaa resonates with values of the early Christian community. Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity asserts that “Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear, and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . . Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family.”

Prayer

May we learn from both of these philosophies to engage in a commitment to co-operation and provision beyond our own small circle—a taste perhaps of the Beloved Community.

Devotion Author

Dr. Pat Saxon

Daily Devotion Wednesday, December 27, 2017

 Scripture

And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.…” Exodus 33.18-23

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life…1 John 1.1-9

Kwanzaa Principles: Self-Determination and Creativity

Today we celebrate the second day of Kwanzaa which is called “Kujichagulia” (koo-chee-GOO-lee-ah) in Swahili and means “Self-Determination.  This principle is the second of the seven principles of kawaanza by Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kawanza.We celebrate the spirits of those who have gone on before us who represent the values of Kujichagulia. Karenga states that self-determination [Kujichagulia] is rooted in Afrocentricity and the cultural image and human interests of African people. 

The word “Afrocentricity” often brings up many different and opposing views and beliefs between people.  Karenga makes his meaning distinct in asserting that, “Afrocentricity does not seek to deny or deform others’ history and humanity, but to affirm, rescue and recreate its own after the Holocaust of Enslavement and innumerable other forms of oppression.”  He describes self-determination (Kujichagulia) “as a right and responsibility to exist as a people and make our distinctive contribution to the forward flow of humankind. Self-Determination [Kujichagulia] along with awareness, is the key to distinguishing our own lives and commanding our destiny. Self-Determination (Kujichagulia) is the quest to answer the question “Who am I” from the standpoints of culture and history and along with mindfulness, is the key to defining our own lives and directing our destiny.  It is both devotion and habit of defining, defending and developing ourselves instead of allowing or urging others to do it

The “free will” that Yahweh has given us all gives us the freedom to determine who we are. We are the masters of our destinies with Yahweh as our guiding light. To live with “Kujichagulia” is not just to ‘be,” but to  know that it is truly up to us to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and to speak for ourselves. A traditional African expression states “Nobody will think you’re somebody if you don’t think so yourself.”  We are all “somebody” in the eyes of Yahweh…God’s precious children.

Prayer

Precious Creator thank you for giving us the spirit of self-determination and the wisdom of knowing who we truly are.  Amen.

Devotion Author

Tricia Anders, Member and Volunteer

Daily Devotion Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Kwanzaa Celebration

Genesis 1:27 states “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female.” NRSV

A Word of Hope

             Today is the first day of Kwanzaa. It is a holiday season celebrated by a lot of African American families and people of African American descent. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulena Karenga after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He introduced Kwanzaa which is a celebrated between Christmas and the upcoming New Year. He wanted people who had African American ancestors to celebrate their heritage.

Dr. Karenga documented the principles and symbolism associated with Kwanzaa to acknowledge the African roots of the Americans with African American descendants. The seven principles were created to denote our social and culture heritages in the midst of a growing homogenous society. The principles called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are:

Unity (Umoja) – to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination (Kujichagulia) – to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and responsibility (Ujima) – to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems to solve together.

Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa) – to build our stores, shops, and other businesses to profit from them together.

Purpose (Nia) – to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity (Kuumba) – to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith (Imani) – to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The scripture reading today in association with Kwanzaa emphasizes that God created us all and as a result we should celebrate who we are as God’s people including our heritage, values, and beliefs. Each day is celebrated with storytelling, songs, dancing, poetry reading, African drums, and lighting of one candle in the Kinyara (candleholder) for each of the seven nights. It is a festive occasion that is worthwhile to learn about the symbols, philosophies, and traditions of Kwanzaa.

We would like to encourage you to celebrate Kwanzaa this year to begin a new family tradition which highlights your heritage and belief systems to pass on to your children.

Prayer

Dear God: Thank you for our legacy, traditions, and customs. We celebrate this Kwanzaa holiday season in remembrance of our ancestors, valuing who we are today, and who we are becoming. We know that you made us all in Your image, Creator of the Universe, and we are valued and loved unconditionally. We know that you want us to work collaboratively together to uplift one another, the community, and primarily, You, God. May it be so in Your son Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Devotion Author

Minister Winner Laws, Cathedral of Hope Member. TCU Brite Divinity Graduate

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