August 27, 2020
September 2, 2020
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”Galatians 6:9-10, NASB
Yet, there comes a time when we need to step back for a while and get re-energized. The opportunity finally presented itself for me to do just that early in August. There were not only Lakeshore events, but there was a Friends of Negro Spirituals event that also took place in July that was my responsibility. So, for the first time in a long, long time (years), I was able to take some time and do nothing work related. Before I came on staff, here at the church, my vacation time from ABSW (now BST) was sometimes partially taken up fulfilling LABC ministry obligations. On the evening of August 4, I turned off my phone and computer and spent the next two weeks resting and living in the words and worlds of Octavia Butler and N. K. Jemison. I took a brief detour into the realm of non-fiction but that was a short trip and found myself back on the road with the rest of Jemison’s travelers.
As the time moved on, I had to make myself continue to be scarce. I missed connecting with my church family. I tuned in to a couple of other services but it was not the same. However, I was more than ready for our Saturday prayer time (every Saturday at 10:00 am – join us). Even though most of the reading was recreational (science fiction), there are usually salient, important themes that have a spiritual context. I was reminded of a piece I started writing on African American spirituality while watching, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In this iteration, I started watching the series from the beginning. This time I was look-ing for the place where Sisko embraced his being the prophesied “emissary” of the Bajorans. It was a casual and slow acceptance of this “calling” on his life.
While watching the episode “Rapture” from Season five (episode 10) I had this sudden realization about Sisko as a spiritual leader. Perhaps it is because I was watching during Black History Month, but I suddenly realized that Sisko as emissary was believable. Why? Because of the spirituality that is inherent in Black culture – and I am not just talking about Christianity. In my study on the Negro Spiritual I did some reading on African traditional religion, specifically some of the writing of John Mbiti. Those who were brought over from the many countries in Africa and were enslaved already had spirituality, religion, that they practiced. In fact, what we define as secular and religious were not separate but both informed the life of some of these native Africans. That which merged them was the music which permeated all aspects of life. So, to see Ben Sisko risk his life to fulfill the will of the prophets not only made sense to me but was also believable because it was played by Avery Brooks.
This episode also posed a question for me with regard to one’s faith. How far can we, should we go to fulfill what we see as our mission, to fulfill the will of God (or the prophets)? Ben was willing to risk his life; however his son was not willing to lose his father (family considerations). There is an irony in this because in a future episode, “The Reckoning” from season six, episode 21, Jake is put in the position of having to possibly give up his life to fulfill the will of the prophets. Although the evil Pa’Wraith takes over Jake’s body, Sisko is willing to see how the battle plays out, trusting the prophets to protect his son. In the end, the battle is artificially ended. However, in the closing scene, Jake admits, because the entity that possessed his body was so evil he was willing to make that sacrifice if necessary.
How far should we go in fulfilling our calling? Jesus laid down His life. Paul was willing to risk his life and prison. James and Stephen lost their lives for the sake of the gospel. I suppose this is a question each of us has to answer for ourselves. Yes, this is how I rest during my time off and I was extremely happy to be able to take the time to “think on these things.”
Growing Together in Christ,