A Rev. Steph Reflection
Advent Week 3 … Joy
Reading this Ode brought an epiphany of Joy that I first experienced as a young[er] woman, when I got to the end of reading For Colored Girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. At the end of this very important womanist play she writes a piece about how the characters identify that what was missing for them was within, and not in anyone or anything else. The epiphany comes when the lady in red says: “I found god in myself& i loved her/ i loved her fiercely” That one line would be not just an epiphany but a game changer for so many Black women in the 70’s and every decade to follow. To not just find God within one’s self, but to identify God with a feminine pronoun, and then take agency to love her and self simultaneously. How powerful!
Of course, the racist patriarchal society I live[d] in, and the patriarchal Black Church I was raised in, made this wonderful truth real hard to embrace. But I fought to embrace it because it brought a Joy, that for a long time was unspeakable, literally. I am thankful though, for being a part of a Black Christian denomination that allowed women to be ordained and hold leadership positions, when so many other denominations weren’t (and still aren’t). Which makes the need for joy imperative for Black women in the church and society.
Which brings me to this wonderful Ode and this week’s advent reflection. Joy is imperative to the keeping of one’s faith and at times, one’s sanity. Joy is not fleeting like happiness. Joy is something that can be conjured in times when happiness is nowhere to be found. Joy is that strength[i] that truly helps maintain you when the rainbow is not really a rainbow at all. The power in reading a sacred text that identifies the God who restores, gives you voice and lifts you up in justice, being your help as feminine[ii] in a culture bias, patriarchal society, such as Syria was…such as the 70’s was…such as today still is, is the kind of stuff that Joy is built upon. This Advent, let us not only anticipate Joy, but walk in its power.
[i] Nehemiah 8:10
“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
[ii] Ode 8:1-6 - “Open; open your hearts to the dancing joy of the Lord And let your love abound from hart to lips: / In order to bring forth fruits for the Lord, a holy life, / And to speak with attention in his light./ Stand and be restored, All of you who were once flattened. / Speak, you who were silent, Because your mouth has been opened. / From now on be lifted up, you who were destroyed Since your justice has been raised. / For the Right Hand of the Lord is with you all, And she will be a helper for you.”
Taussig, H. (2013). A New New Tesatment. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt