Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Christ's Death and Resurrection and Al Green's Life! by Marvin

Tired of Being Alone seems like a secular song, an ode to a woman that Al longs for and wants us to long for, but is it really that?  I propose that Christ was working in Al from the start through his own lyrics that he may not have even written, or at least not with “those” intentions.   Listen carefully to the words:

"Sometimes I wonder, if you love me like you say you do.  I've been thinking about it yeah, I've been wantin’ to get next to you baby!  Sometimes I hold my arms and I say, needing you has proven to me to be my Greatest Dream.”

I propose to you that Christ worked in Al's heart to tell him, "Al, I love your songs, all your songs, but can you write and sing them for me as well, can you lament over me, my death, and my resurrection?  Can you come and sit at my table so I can help you create another table (Concert tables) for others to hear my message through you?  Because through you they will hear me in many ways, through, so called secular and gospel because you’re a great instrument for The Kingdom?  Can you do that?   They’ve been listening to your amazing songs their entire life.  From age 56 down to 26, they all still love you.   Tell them about your old songs, but let them know you’re a pastor, an ambassador for Christ, write a few for me, yes?"   And I believe that Al said, “Yes Lord” And that’s what he does today.  He sings the old songs with the subliminal messages, but he also sings the gospel songs to the same audience…and they love him.  Or is Christ smiling sitting on the right hand side of the Father going, “I told you Al would work it out.”   

I believe that Al Green, who within six months of signing with Staxx Records, a famous Memphis, Tennessee record label, was a major star.   This also caused him to have a meteoric rise to fame, women, money, success, and a hot batch of grits (girl in a hotel) dumped on him.  And I believe that knowing that Christ let him survive that, Al Green eventually said, “Yes Lord, I will follow you”.   Let me tell you, having not experienced a "come to Jesus moment" like that (but in other ways) I will say that if a hot pot of grits is thrown on you by a fine woman, like Nia Long, Eva Mendez, Lucy Liu, or Diane Lane, or even Halle Berry, is not going get you to come to Christ, I don't know what will!  I think Al ran to Christ and sang all songs for all people.  He had the audiences of young and old, rich and middle class, black and white.  Christ had him set the table, break the bread, and celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ in a concert for everyone every time he touches a microphone. 

Personally, even though I attend a Presbyterian church (which I love my church) I'm not a "religious" person.  I am a fallen human full of sin in s many areas of my life that I really do feel like Al Green.  Having Christ use me for the benefit of all, believers, for we are still sinners, and non-believers who Christ wants me to meet and set a table for them as well. 

My paraphrased version of Christ's Death goes like this:

I'm a follower of the man they took at roughly 35 years of age and had so called,  "religious leaders" of the time asked Him, "who do you say you are?"   He confessed to be who they thought He said he was, (Christ the Messiah) the One sent by God as God in Christ.  Then a church leader tore his clothes, mashed his teeth, turned him over to the Romans who were just trying to kick it and not have a billion Hebrews go crazy over their so called God!  “But fine", said Pontius Pilate, "you say he did something, fine.  But what has he done? Never mind, crucify him then”.  Christ then carried his own cross to his own death, all planned by His Father, God, by using Judas as one of the main people at the table of the last supper (God uses who he needs to use for His purpose), then Christ must have thought, “it's really happening, I will die for the entire world.  I pray they actually believe me when they use B.C and A.D, will they at least see and honor that?”   

And then it happened; He (Christ) was actually being nailed to the Roman gibbet, by stretching his hands to the east and west of the cross, pierced in the palm of his hands with nails.  His legs were broken so it quickens the death, His feet were then placed together as one larger nail was placed through probably the middle toes of one foot and penetrated the other, a stacked look if you will, as the pain of all those nails would cause you to pass out, go numb, or just scream in agony...maybe all three.   And then He would have to survive, for it still wasn't His time, being placed in a small dug out ditch that when the cross was placed upright, it didn't' tip over.  This is Rome; they were amazing at planning all things.   The cross then bounced in and stood upright.  And maybe for a moment, He (God in Christ as human) got a little rest, at least nothing was being pierced.  Now the mocking came, bullying in today's terms, as if He hadn't suffered enough. And God says, “No, you haven't, for the entire world must look to this and come to me at the table of broken bread, and spilled wine”.    So, more suffering, mocking and then eventually as the skies grew dark, death--upon a cross--planned by His father--and executed by Him, with help  of Rome,  but really, we’re all responsible for that death.    His entourage begged for his body that had been literally flogged and beaten to a pulp, then He was put in a tomb.  The next day Mary came to see him.  He was not in the tomb.  

And I heard that Al Green song again, "Sometimes I wonder, if you love me like you say you do.  I've been wanting to get next to you”.  I hear Christ asking me that in the midst of that song.  So, I say to you, ask me again if I’m a “religious person.”   I say no, I'm a listener of a great Al Green songs that I believe Christ, all powerful, can use even that as a way to reach me(us).  Tomorrow, please listen, and see if you can set a table, break some bread, and pour some wine to celebrate The Resurrection of Christ as the greatest love song ever written.  Thanks Al Green for your ear for Christ.  Christ does love you like he says he does; Happy Resurrection Day Everyone.  
#Doorstories15, #marvinstories15, #Resurrectionstories , #racematters 

More from Al Green: 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Do I Need to Talk to White People?

Over the weekend, Marvin and I got to speak with the men of Scottsdale’s Valley Presbyterian Church about #ReconciliationMatters.  Marvin said something he often says that originated from one of our Discerners: “why do we need to talk to white people?”

Meanwhile, we have an energetic and open group from Grand Valley State University here now, from western Michigan which is my homestate’s Anglo bible belt.  Some of them have asked, “who has to make the first step in improving race relations? Every time I try, it seems like people I speak to aren’t interested.”

There is injustice, surely.  But I think I’m seeing efforts made on both sides…though both are hesitant.  The Samaritan story keeps blessing me.  The Samaritan made great efforts to cross the line.  Jesus is asking the Jewish scholars to make great efforts in listening and receiving the story He tells.  Will they?  Well, no, because they killed Jesus.

So will we?  I’m speaking to mostly white people, too, and so many times they (we) want to hide behind guilt, or are often not wanting to talk because we don’t want to be hit with guilt. So we just never say anything so nobody can ever call us racist.  

But isn’t the Good Samaritan story asking us to choose LISTENING instead of GUILT?  Could the religious scholars receive the lesson about a hero from the other side of the tracks or not.  Can we?  Will we? We, as white people who enjoy benefits of privilege only granted to us, could choose to stay feeling guilty, or we could listen and seek first to understand, to empathize instead of sympathize, to find our commonness in being God’s children.  And no: there is no use in feeling guilty for what my forefathers may or may not have done.  But there is use in thinking critically about my current behaviors and attitudes.  First, however, I need to listen.  

So prayer seems pretty important.  If not absolutely critical.  And the other question is what Marvin and I are working on constantly: why do white people need to listen to people of color?  That’s the work we are focused on.  That’s the door we are prayerfully trying to open.  Maybe instead of taking the first step forward, we need to set a table that invites others in, and then sit down and listen.  And then pray, together, and wait on God to show us what's next.  - Matthew

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Racial #ReconciliationMatters at DOOR Hollywood

Jesus says the most important commandments are to Love God and Love our Neighbors. At DOOR Hollywood, we believe that racial reconciliation is critical, and especially now, urgently needs tending to as a form of learning how to practice redemptive love of neighbors. 
This year at DOOR Hollywood, Marvin and Matthew launch a new curriculum, asking questions like, “what is service for, why does God ask us to reach outside ourselves, and how does service give us opportunity to mend breakdowns between ourselves and neighbors from different families, tribes, countries, races?” 
Sign ups for this Spring and Summer are open, click here: 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ending 2014 with DOORs Wide Open

#DOORStories14 (click here to see the tapestry of 2014...)

DOOR Hollywood’s first seven years have brought tremendous fruit.  We've hosted thousands of young people through our Discover program, connecting them to local agencies like WorldVision, PATH, My Friend's Place, Project Angel Food, Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), and Homeboy Industries.  We’ve collaborated with a robust chorus of local voices, exposing young Christians to the gifts and needs of Los Angeles, and challenging them to consider Biblical responses to racism, classism, and our propensity to see people “on the other side of the tracks” as modern Samaritans.  Our Dwellers have been cited as integral in reshaping the dialogue and approach to solving homelessness with dignity, compassion, and commitment to building authentic community for disenfranchised individuals. 
As we approach our ten-year mark in 2017, we are thrilled to see the growth of our third program: DISCERN.  Originally created as a semester-long internship intended for college students, Discern is now so much more, and is truly what makes DOOR unique in the tapestry of Christian ministries.  Our Discerners are increasingly local youth, primarily from the lower-income areas we intentionally place ourselves.  Discerners in Hollywood have been helping to host Discover groups and welcome Dwellers to the neighborhood for years.  These are young Latino, African-American, Caucasian, and Asian youth who speak with dexterity, grace, and vulnerability about issues like gentrification, gang-tensions, and the complexities of straddling the line between being “documented” and “undocumented.”  Eyes are opened and hearts are moved past single stories and dominant narratives.  And we believe this is how God always intended us to communicate: in person, over meals, in a context of service.  In an increasingly digital and detached world, perhaps we need this now more than ever.
Our Discerners and Dwellers, some of whom started their DOOR journey as Discover participants with their church youth group, are future (and current) social workers, teachers, artists, activists, writers, ministers, pastors.  We know these God-given gifts come from “both sides of the tracks.”  
Here are some exciting ways to get involved with our growing ministry (click here to get started!)

$15,000 Sponsors a Dweller for a year
$6,500 Covers food for the Dwellers
$3,500 Sponsors a full year of Fellowship Building Recreational Events 
$2,000 Provides a Retreat with Frontera de Cristo along the border of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico
$1,500 covers one Discerner's Summer Stipend
$1,000 covers the lodging cost for one week-long Discover group
$600  Covers the cost of sending 2 Discerners to attend a Forum for Theological Exploration conference
$500 Covers curriculum books for the year
$200 Covers the weekly honorarium offered to local speakers
$150 Covers a Retreat Registration for a Discerner or Dweller
$50 Covers the cost of sponsoring a “Dollar Meal” for a large Discover group, an activity that builds solidarity with folks living off the streets
Thank you, and have a blessed end of your 2014!  - Matthew,



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Discern Vs. Dismiss

A few days back after being witness to the Beloved Community Council, a DOOR gathering based on the spirit and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. to lift up and empower a diverse chorus of this country's voices, especially as it relates to the ministry of our work in cities, I feel recharged, honored, and ready for a new year.  I’m so grateful to be part of such an intentional organization, one that takes risks, listens, challenges, and steps back when needed.

DOOR Hollywood board member and regular speaker, Toni White, and I had a great discussion on the flight home.  It led to some thoughts I'm having about the propensity for Christians to hide behind "discernment.”  Or, I should say, “discernment” has too often meant, “dismissiveness.”

In my first 10 years as a Christian, born-again, woken up, however you want to classify, I have learned greatly about Discernment.  That, one role we share as Christians is to prayerfully find our role in God’s kingdom, and prayerfully find the ways we are supposed to recognize something is out of our control.  Sometimes we have to discern “swine” and reserve our pearls for those outside the sty.  Sometimes we have to own that we have “savior complexes,” and for some of us there is an overlay of “white savior guilt counter-complexes,” and step back.

But, in my next 10 years, I want to dig into discernment.  In some of the circles I’ve found myself in, “discernment” has been code for “dismiss.”  In other words, I might call it “discernment” when I don’t want to engage in a hot racial argument; in hearing the reason why a man living homelessly gives for needing that dollar; in stepping away from a situation that looks too complicated and messy.  And, sometimes, that might be good discernment.  But, it might also be a desire to not engage, which is more accurately described as being dismissive.

Discernment requires that we “intake,” and intake requires that we listen, take time, hear.  You can’t discern if you have no information.  You can’t adequately pray about something if you haven’t heard the core issue.  Now, sometimes we might seriously not be available, and that is okay, as we who seek justice and freedom cannot rest, and we ought to.  But if I’m honest, haven’t I used the word “discernment” when I just chose to avoid from the outset?
We are not called to be dismissive people.  We are called to NOT overlook, to NOT ignore.  May we feel called to step into the hard places and questions with boundless compassion, and may God make it clear when we are to accept rest.

Be well, friends: Matthew

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Complicating a Single Story

Complicate Single Stories with DOOR Hollywood:

The parables of Jesus urge us to see past our limited understandings, or single story, of people who are different than us, the nature of God, the ways to right living.  DOOR Hollywood, a multi-tiered urban ministry has been studying the damaging effects of the current single stories we are inundated with, often repetitively portrayed by television, movies, and news reports.  What comes to mind when one thinks of “the homeless,” “the gang member,” “the immigrant,” “the single mother on welfare,” “the celebrity,” “the elderly,” and “kids these days.”  Are we seeing our neighbors as people or as problems?  Are we seeing them the way God asks us to?  Are we able to humble ourselves to learn from a former prisoner, to see God’s face in a woman living on the streets?   Come hear our stories in progress as we wrestle with these questions.  Visit us for a weekend, a week, or living in intentional community for a year as a Dweller, and stay in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook.  #DOORStories14

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stories In Progress, #DOORStories14

some really fun photos from our Stories in Progress event at CBS Radford Studio's "New York Street" tonight.   see more here: #DOORStories14

If you weren't able to make it, and still want to support us, click here