A scribe then approached [Jesus] and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19-20).
I’ve always wanted to be a pastor. When I was 15 years old and visited a classmate’s church, I saw with my own eyes that a grown-up girl could be a pastor. The church had me at “hello.” I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I definitely knew I wouldn’t become wealthy. But that wasn’t important because in my teenage heart, I knew God was calling me. If following Jesus meant poverty, it didn’t matter. I was in.
My parents, on the other hand, were not so inclined. Although they applauded my altruism, I remember my father telling me, “The best way to help poor people is to not become one of them. Be an attorney. Make some money.” I know a few pastors who also felt an urge to be lawyers. After all, Martin Luther was going to be an attorney.
One of my favorite television networks is HGTV. Every year this channel has a spectacular sweepstakes where the grand prize is a fabulous designer-built house. It comes complete with upscale furniture, “smart” appliances and unbelievable decor. Only the finest finishings are chosen for this home. There are even chandeliers in the walk-in closets. There is no cost to enter the sweepstakes, and you may enter as many times as you like.
After many years of renting, my affinity for those HGTV shows began to wane. I know it sounds silly, but I just got tired of watching what seemed like the entire country find housing while my family remained distanced from home ownership. I jettisoned the dream that I might one day own my own home.
When you think about it, reparations is simply the act of repairing.
Beloveds, one of the churches where I served experienced an influx of funds. This congregation was dedicated to increasing the generational wealth of people who have historically been marginalized or disenfranchised. Now, you’re not going to believe this! They made it possible for the !Khabeb family to purchase a big, beautiful home in the Twin Cities. Some of the church leaders even used the language of “reparations.”
Recently, I’ve been thinking about Langston Hughes’ familiar strain of a mother talking to her son, and she says, ever so faintly, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” My house, she continues, has had tacks, splinters, boards ripped up, no carpet on the floors and was always bare. It was no place to rest her head. But this woman kept on climbing. Sometimes she would reach a landing and plateau in the midst of the struggle because of exhaustion, but she kept on and rounded that corner. She just wanted a safe place to rest, feed her family and be sheltered from the elements. That was her dream. I don’t know her name but she arrived on these American shores in 1619.
My faith journey has been wonderful, delightful, yet, at times, perilous. But God is always faithful. God has moved through each congregation where I have served to shower me and my family with blessings—some spiritual, some tangible, some both. I’m thankful to the providence of God placing me in congregations that extended their hand of grace to me. It is true, life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, but it is so much easier now because in this house (God’s church) I am not climbing alone. I think that is God’s idea of home sweet home.
I’ve come to realize that my dream was not mine alone. It came to these shores on a filthy ship, lived in a shack, marched in Selma and now finally has come home to sit with me on my overstuffed leather sofa. When you think about it, reparations is simply the act of repairing. This redistribution of wealth is nothing short of a modern-day miracle.