Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

Heatrock of the Week: Marz Ferrer “Blur” feat. JGivens

Great song from Marz featuring the STCDNW Rookie of the Year JGivens. Seriously, who is spitting like this brother right now?!

Weekly Wha Dat?!

Blow is the James Baldwin of our time. Using his gifts as a storyteller, he writes of poverty, race, bullying, gender and sexuality – the issues, struggles and process of self-discovery of our era.” 

“When we look at the life of Moses, we see humility isn’t bashfulness. It isn’t self-deprecation. It isn’t about ignoring your strengths (or weaknesses). Humility doesn’t mean you can’t be confident. True humility is understanding where your confidence comes from—and that confidence should come from your identity in God.”

“I never thought anything like this would ever happen to someone like me,” Erika Schoonover said. Schoonover and her fiance Josh Wilberger have had to put off their wedding for years. Schoonover has lupus, and she’s already lived past the life expectancy for someone with her disease. 

” I do not relate these experiences to gain sympathy. I broke the law knowing there would be consequences. I tell my story because this is the side of the system we didn’t get to see where I grew up. In the wealthy suburbs of Massachusetts, our shared narrative told us that people who didn’t live where we lived, or have what we had, weren’t working as hard as we were. We avoided inner city streets because they were dangerous, and we relied on the police to keep people from those places out of our neighborhoods. Whatever they got, we figured they deserved. My total, unquestioning belief in this narrative was the reason I arrived in Roxbury, fresh out of law school, eager to incarcerate everything in sight.”

The Laugh to Keep From Crying Episode #STCDNW

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The Laugh to Keep From Crying Episode #STCDNW by Di Baddest Chaplain on Mixcloud

unravelinG

Loathe this place.

Always showing up for dinner, forever on the menu.

Unspoken speeches turned tourniquet,

The Educator must entertain.

 

You cesspool of spiritual violence

A blasphemy incarnate.

You promise me an audience for oratory

Yet have no interest in others’ story.

 

I cactus here.

Remember.

Love sustain I.

Tryna (Try nuh?)

This bout to mess me up.

I can already tell.

I’m bout to get unraveled

and dismantled

and thinking

bout how i too am a mess.

i feel ashamed.

anytime i think about it.

my role in this whole mess,

i know i’m guilty.

i feel responsible

but where i’m spose to go from there?

like i’m tryna be loving,

but at the same time…nah i’m tryna be loving.

that’s got to be the end all be all, free all.

i’m tryna live out here and not keep my foot on anybody’s neck.

i’m thinking bout justice again.

how it really pulls the loose ends out of our t-shirts.

not really seeing how to modify, all i’m seeing is the shirt unraveled.

might try to keep wearing it tho.

the neck doesn’t feel as crisp as it used to.

the sleeves a little looser.

but justice keeps tugging.

now my t-shirt is a v-neck. things getting exposed now, scarfs ain’t helping.

Pancakes (Sticky out deh, een?!)

aunt-jemima-pancakes-old2

I’m ashamed that I buy Aunt Jemima pancakes.

I could probably eat pancakes everyday.

they say abs are made in the kitchen but for real

if i gotta give up pancakes to get a six-pack, screw a six-pack.

bri still loves me and so does Jesus.

how am i supposed to give up pancakes?

would eating hungry jack make me more just?

what if next week i learn that hungry jack was a tool of oppression too?

i’m scared.

 

Pancakes might mean too much to me.

But I listen to Shabba Ranks when I eat pancakes.

I’m in my kitchen when I eat pancakes.

It’s saturday when I eat pancakes.

Grandma is still alive when I eat pancakes.

Don’t know if my hands will ever get clean.

Cleaning My Lens

The second sermon I delivered this summer while interning at All Souls Presbyterian Church. 

Chris Burton

7.13.2014

All Souls Presbyterian Church

Cleaning My Lens (Romans 8:1-11)

 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)

 

I’m a creature of habit. Once I get something I like I usually stick with it. I might have five favorite restaurants in town but that would mean I just get five different meals. I’ve been buying a clean version of the same sneaker for over a decade now. I’ve got other shoes that I like but always want a pair of crisp Nike Cortez in my rotation. My mom has been trying to get me to buy a new phone for a year now. It has a slight, very fine crack on the screen but it doesn’t bother me so I haven’t gotten it replaced. Even these glasses! I have had them for three years now, which is no good, but I like them and haven’t been straining my eyes too much so changing them has not been as much of a priority as it should be. Truth be told, I would not even have them if it weren’t for my time as a middle school basketball coach where one of my point guards obliterated an older pair during practice. They looked a lot like these and I’d probably still be peering over them to this day.

 

So yes, I confess, I get attached. I like what I like and I’m sure that I have developed a formidable resistance to change. This is not always good. Routines can afford us stability, and stability is socially acceptable but what do we do when said routine is a bit more constricting than mere stability? What do we do when we get stuck?

 

Our faults, our shortcomings, our sin, our shame. All these conspire within us, trapping us in a perverse cycle. We say things we wish we did not say, we do things that we know we ought not to do.

 

Last week we heard Rev. Keyes illustrate the inner turmoil using the apostles’ words. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV) Paul articulates the war that rages inside of us all. Knowing better and doing better aren’t always a packaged deal. Our actions can betray us. No matter how disciplined we are, and successful we have become, we are all susceptible to failure.

 

As much as I am moved by the poem Invictus, my relationship with Jesus Christ calls me to thoroughly disagree with the last stanza.

“It matters not how strait the gate,

     How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

     I am the captain of my soul.” 

I pray that I may never desire to be the master of my fate. I’ve tried it my way and have proven myself unqualified for the job. I have come to find no profit in being the captain of my soul.

 

Paul’s letter is good news for all us. You may not fashion yourself to be a creature of habit but the truth is, living life on our own terms is a recipe for failing habitually. Submitting ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ is an acknowledgment that we have no business being captain.

 

Let us look at Verses 3 and 4 once more:

 

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

Recently I began asking God to equip me to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit daily. Galatians 5:22-23 tell us that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV) It has been said that “The fruits of the Spirit, or effects of sanctification, which are begun in us, do not ingraft us into Christ, but declare that we are grafted into him.” 

 

There is nothing you or I can do to earn God’s love. There is no hope for us in and of ourselves. Our hope is in Christ. The kindness that we demonstrate, the love that we have, any and all of the fruits of the Spirit are there as evidence of the work God is doing in us. In my preparation I encountered this quote from William Barclay that resonates, “Because of what Jesus did, there opens out to the Christian a life no longer dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit of God, which fills a man with a power not his own. The penalty of the past is removed and strength for his future is assured.” (Barclay, William. The Letter to the Romans (Revised Edition) Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975 p.103)

Forgiving yourself because you have been forgiven. Step out of the shade of shame and walk in the Son’s light.

Bitterness can corrupt. I remember praying for God to give me forgiveness. I knew that I was at risk of phoniness, in danger of proclaiming a hollow gospel if I did not walk in forgiveness. I prayed for forgiveness so much that it became a part of my daily routine. From time to time I would imagine dry soil, almost like red clay and I’d see a tiller pulling up that soil, breaking its hardness. And I would see this image again and again. I didn’t correlate the two, my prayer and my vision until much later but I am confident that I am able to demonstrate forgiveness because of the good work that the Lord has done in me. Matthew Henry once noted that “By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us.” I am free to walk in forgiveness because of the Spirit that dwells in me.

 

I believe that forgiveness is a central component of our faith. Through Christ we have been forgiven. How can we follow Him and not extend forgiveness toward others? I have no doubt that it is a process, a journey too arduous to complete on our own. But I am even more confident that it is one we can complete through yielding to the Spirit and forfeiting any claims to the captaincy of our lives.

 

We’ve heard the story from our Old Testament reading several times and it never stops amazing me to hear of Esau’s forgiveness.

 

Esau stands with Joseph, the prodigal son’s father and Our Father who chose to show solidarity instead of shame.

 

Living a life free from the burden of our failures isn’t done by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

Let us seek the Father daily. Ask for the Spirit to till our hearts and nourish us so that we bear the fruit that is pleasing in God’s sight.

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

 

What We Inherit

This week concludes my summer internship at All Souls Presbyterian Church. It has been a wonderful experience and I am celebrating by uploading my sermons from the summer. Here was my first sermon there called “What we inherit.” I hope it blesses you. Much love.

 

 

Nothing to Shmile About

bobby-shmurda-shmoney-dance

Bobby Shmurda makes me feel like shutting my blinds and telling everybody to get off my lawn.

Not everything is for everybody. I get that. I try to follow the new waves in the culture without chasing it. Rap is a fountain of youth that often doubles as an HD mirror. You see what’s in and can’t help sometimes but to feel old and out of it.

There’s a bunch of interviews and articles covering Bobby Shmurda and the energy around the “Shmoney Dance.” The conversation on Hot 97 really stuck out to me.

I’m watching this brother with several lenses.

  1. The inner teenager living vicariously through the tough talk on my playlist.
  2. The emcee parsing every bar and remaining unimpressed by the lyrics but can’t front on the presentation.
  3. The activist is going upstream to find out who’s responsible for this.
  4. The minister who knows the reach of redemption and counts nobody out.

My first impression is that this brother is young but has seen some stuff in his lifetime. Selling crack in the 5th grade?! The Brooklyn he describes has had no parts of gentrification. He makes East Flatbush sound like District 12.

His partner Rowdy Rebel talked about his father’s raps and why he never felt his father’s music. Yeah, a lot of people aren’t with the “lyrical miracle” rappity raps but it shook me when Ebro essentially told him that young cats don’t care about lyrics.

Music gotta be more than catharsis. Feeling good is important but it ain’t like you have to give up substance for style.

I went down a mini rabbit hole on youtube yesterday watching video clips and interviews. I keep waiting to see Aaron McGruder’s name in the credits after the videos to no avail. He’s equal parts boogeyman and catnip. It doesn’t surprise me that his music is getting so much attention. He’s lyrically simplistic and doesn’t seem too interested in punchlines but his charisma is undeniable. I went to school with brothers like him, taught kids like him, shook my head at kids on the train just like him.

I get mad at how basic the message in his music seems but then part of me is like “Yo he’s talking his experience? Hell else you want him to chat bout?!”

I’m looking for growth even though he’s just getting started. I see a lot of artists and industry types embracing Shmurda but I hope people aren’t just playing parasite hoping to benefit from the energy.

Young rappers need mentors. I have no doubt that he won’t always rhyme about what he sees on his block everyday but he doesn’t need to join the league of rappers robbing poor people of dignity. Keep it real, suffer from success and all that, but be about uplift.

Where’s ya sting? (Sicker than a sickle)

I was 25 when I decided I wasn’t gonna die anymore
Told death, “Don’t come by
For at least 55 years.” No handshake,
No peeking round, just living without the albatross.
I figured it won’t be weighty around 80,
Won’t embrace the cold like an old friend.

It’s just a doorframe.
A window pane.
I reverse Revere not to fear it.
Riding through life Maranatha like,
“King Jesus is coming! King Jesus is coming!”
Praying to meet me is to hear it.

I wanna leave oil everywhere.
Tryna Valdez your life,
BP your situations,
Soul Glo your strife.
I got discharged
Feeling more bitter than swiss chard.
Though I missed hard always knew I was a missed star.

I executed Him, hung with him.
I died with him
He descended.
I rose with him
There’s no prison.

Nor condemnation cuz I’m living in Christ.
Don’t see me shining?
Think I’m living in strife?

Small potatoes pared to emboli.
Pneumonia.
Night sweats.
Prison of the mind.
(How serrated this life gets.)

At 24 death sat on my front door.
Won’t fit in my pouch,
No room in my house anymore.

Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

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