By Rev. Dr. Linda Hollies
The time has come! A new season is already here! Women of color are in leadership all across the world. Did you notice the awful and ugly time that Condolessa Rice had with being charged with the sins of The President? Since "they" couldn’t get at him directly, Condi set in a hot seat and had all sorts of evil aimed at her. It would have been nice if she would have made the distinction between her and The President that she works for and has to uphold as "the party line". For even Stevie Wonder could see her position!
Today, despite the thirteen votes against her, despite Senator Barbara Barkers severe indictment and John Kerry’s sore looser politics, Condolessa Rice is the United States Secretary of State! I don’t have to agree with her politics. I don’t have to like George W. Bush the way that she does. And, I don’t have to like the dull hair-do and clothes that she wears! But, I have to recognize that she is the highest paid, most senior government official who just happens to be a woman of color! I salute the Sista. She’s certainly in my prayers that she makes a positive and permanent impact upon our world. (And, I pray that somebody can talk her into a brand new hair make-over!)
It is so difficult for the world to overcome it’s prejudices against women! There are a multitude of good Anglo folks, across the world, who have huge investments in the anti-racism movement. We know, that even in our own communities, there are the "named" good, white liberals who talk, work and give generously to erradicate the barriers that have been erected against folks without white skin! Yet, we continue to face racist acts, attitudes and judgements because it is hard to overcome prejudice!
Prejudice is any negative attitude that seeks to divide us from one another. Prejudice is the assumption that one group, one gender, one religion or one culture is better than another without facts to substantiate the bias. Prejudice is often taught without awareness. Prejudice is different than racism. Racism is prejudice plus the power to make others suffer by way of laws and rules that govern how we live.
Prejudice is the assumption that people of color are not equal to whites. Racism is the creation of laws that keep people of color from equal education with sub-standard schools; quality housing by means of redlineing and forcing them into one or two areas; refusing to hire them, promote them and provide a means for "catch-up" in the economic area! All of us have the ability to be prejudice! Yes, even the people of God. However, people of color are not politically set to be racist and make laws that govern the world and all those who live in it!
I can’t remember when I saw the sign. I can’t re-call where the epiphany, the illumination and the bright light flashed for me. I cannot give specifications as to the time or the distinct place. But, a bumper sticker, I believe it was, shouted to me and said, "When you face obstacles in life, don’t whine and complain. Instead, start a revolution!" So, I have become a one woman army, out to combat the age old prejudice against women! Every time I get the opportunity; regardless to where it’s at and makes me no difference who I have to take on, I declare that I will confront the ignorance that women face at every level in the whole wide world. For, it’s prejudice against women that we have internalized. It’s prejudice against women that keeps us from acknowledging the contributions, placing value on their gifts and accepting us as full members of society. And, it’s not of God!
Jesus and The Boys were on a mission. And, John 1 says, "He had a need to go through Samaria." Jesus had a need to go and visit with a woman who had been abused by five men in her life. Without the power of divorce, five men had already bought this woman as their wife. And, all five of them had gone to the city gates and gotten permission from the male elders to go back to their tent, face the East and call out three times, "I divorce thee. I divorce thee. I divorce thee." But, the God of heaven and earth had gotten sick and tired of an entire town’s prejudice that had caused a hole in the soul of this woman. So, Jesus sent The Boys into town to shop, while he sat on the side of an old well and waited for her to come and get her daily supply of water from Joseph’s well.
Some of the male pastors in our town need to be sent on shopping trips! Many of the male deacons and officers of these small minded congregations, social clubs and closed minded places that dare call themselves, "Houses of God" need to be sent on shopping trips. Many of the mean spirited, small minded women who are hell raisers, who don’t like even themselves and will pull down any woman who dares to take a step that they have not sanctioned, need to be sent on shopping trips. For the reality is that when you can’t deal with; won’t heed the new move of the Church of Jesus Christ and can’t take the leadership of serious sisters, you need to take a shopping trip. For YOU are hindering the program of God! YOU are blocking the blessings for the rest of The Body of Christ. And, YOU are not part of The Jesus Movement that came of lift up the oppressed! The Malls are calling! Get Gone!
This woman at the well, is our sister. And, Girlfriend had her own set of issues. She too was prejudiced against Jesus and all other Jews! She challenged this Jewish Rabbi who came to quench her thirsty soul! In a dry, barren and hurting soul, she was ready to allow her prejudice to keep her from receiving exactly what she needed to be made whole! This lesson comes to allow us to look around us and to consider who it is that we have "written off" due to our own personal, unchallenged prejudice! For the Word of God is contemporary and finds us where we’re trying to hide today!
Our prejudice is called on the carpet today. Who are you evading, avoiding and ignoring "just because" they’re different and you just can’t get with them? Why is it so easy for you to walk around them, not speak to them when they have actually done nothing to offend you? What is the unspoken thoughts that you’re carrying around within you that came via your family, your social conditioning or maybe just the media who only reports the negative about them? Have you been sent off on a shopping trip and missed a blessing that has been present to you the whole time? I know, for I love to go shopping!
This is the season of Lent. Our baptismal vows places us in a huge, diverse family. Each sibling has something of value to offer to our lives. God made no mistakes when different races, different cultures and different genders were created. Lent is our time both acknowledge and then, to be cleansed from our sin of prejudice. When I refuse a relationship with a sibling, I refuse the outstretched hand of God. The very one that we turn away from just might be the one who has been sent to offer us The Waters of Refreshing!
Out of the whole New Testament, Jesus has the longest, most intense and theological conversation with this "strange" woman. Jesus offers her Living Water. Her thirst is satisfied. And, she becomes the very first missionary to go and tell a whole city about The Messiah. And, when The Boys returned from their shopping trip, they had missed the entire revolution between Jews and Samaritans! Saints, don’t miss The Jesus Revolution. And, it’s happening now, right before our very eyes! For "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus!" (Galatians 3: 28) And, that’s a powerful Word for those who are not off shopping!
Til next time….remember that the time has come, and it is a new season! I’m a one woman revolutionist and I invite every sister to join me!
On the journey with ya!
Let’s live holy; laugh often; and let’s love with flair and with extravagance!
WomanSpace: 820 Monroe, NW Suite 323
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
Saving Sisters, one woman at a time!
Join us! Shalom!