Fuller

Author: Inés Velásquez-McBryde

A stained glass window with a dove representing the Holy Spirit in the middle

Part II: Praying the Beatitudes Backwards

In this familiar passage of the Sermon on the Mount, it is easy for us to insert ourselves and our desire to receive individual blessings. However, Jesus is speaking to a crowd with collective, historical pain. It’s a communal message, not an individual message. What would it look like to turn the message into a prayer of confession with an outward facing Kingdom imagination?

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A crowd protesting in Los Angeles

Part I: The Beatitudes are Not for the Blessed

As a leader, I am a woman of color, but I am not African-American and cannot speak for my African-American sisters and brothers. Yet I can mourn with my siblings who mourn. A Christ-like leader cannot depart from the Christ on this mount. The message of the Beatitudes is ensconced in a painful present. Yet the Messenger of the Beatitudes points to a present and future hope in the midst of dark realities. I am called to mourn the systemic inequities that brought about the death of yet another African-American brother.

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A fishing boat on a rainy, snowy day

I Do Not Feel Courageous

Jesus is not offering a word of condemnation but an invitation in the waters. He invites Peter into a conversation: Why did you hesitate? What made you waver? Why are you uncertain? Jesus invites Peter to get to know himself better during this time. Not for the sake of condemnation, but transformation.

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A woman looking out over a lake and mountains

I Am Afraid

I find myself afraid, too. Afraid of not knowing. Afraid of not seeing. Afraid of the losses. Afraid of the hard leadership decisions. Afraid that Jesus is nowhere to be seen at certain times of the day, like before dawn. Afraid of not knowing when the waves will stop battering our global family. Afraid that this curve won’t flatten and fall. Fear comes in waves.

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hymnal open to "Abide With Me"

Abiding in Love

May you be deeply rooted in the soil of God’s love and may you be held and upheld, sustained by the source. May the soul of your leadership grow a thick and deep root in the soil of God’s own love. My hope is to remind you to stay connected to the soil of God’s own love for you and your community. Abide in this love today. The harvest of this abiding will come tomorrow. There’s nothing more that you need to produce today. The vine invites you to be present today. Be present to yourself, to God, and to others. I am in this struggle with you. You are not alone. 

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a man looking out through a window

A Leader Laments

As a leader, I must acknowledge my human limitations and release any subtle grasp for control in this crisis. Words have often failed me in the last four weeks. The first thing I’ve had to learn to do as a leader is to lament as needed. To identify and name my losses is the first step in the grief process.; to not run quickly to Easter Sunday but sit with the grief of the Garden of Gethsemane: my own and others’ grief. We serve a leader and a Savior that is well acquainted with the grief of both garden and Good Friday.

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Staying Calm When the Worst is Yet to Come

*This post is part of De Pree Center’s Finding Our Bearings in a Crashing Economy series.  Inés Velasquez-McBryde, is a church planter, chaplain at…

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Harriet Tubman - Maryland historical marker

Legacy of Love – Part II

In honor of Black History Month, and every other month, may we sit under the teachers and leaders of African-American history—which is American history.

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a set of cutout hearts bathed in pink light

If I Don’t Have Love – Part I

If leadership speaks in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but does not have love, leadership is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if leadership has prophetic powers, and understands all mysteries and all knowledge, and if leadership has all faith, so as to remove mountains, but does not have love, leadership is nothing. If leadership gives away all their possessions, and hands over their body so that leadership may boast, but does not have love, leadership gains nothing.

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Rosa Parks being fingerprinted

Strength to Lead – Part II

On this honorable weekend where we remember MLK, Jr., I would love to also recognize the role of women in the fight for civil rights. History is filled with powerful women who have birthed and labored to get us to where we are today. The civil rights movement especially would not be the same without them. They toiled and watered the soil so the seeds of the movement would bear fruit. These women did not walk by injustice nor did they choose to “pass by on the other side.”

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MLK Jr. and other leaders marching in 1963

Strength to Love – Part I

“I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.”

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A table set for dinner with many places

Ingratitude

The opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude, it is envy and jealousy. This plays out more strongly in close-knit communities due to the danger of comparison which is the silent killer of community. Teams and homes and friendships and playgrounds and board tables that experience success by individuals are at higher risk to toil in the soil of comparison that gives birth to multiple character defects. Even seasoned leaders are not immune to such.

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A path next to a grassy field

Burning Hearts

Jesus meets them in their realities, histories and difficult memories. He self-reveals to us in our daily journeys, even and especially when we don’t see him. Is God walking with me in these places? Is God with me at my workplace? Does Jesus care about the events of this staff meeting? I will never get tired of how Jesus asks genuine questions to which he already knows the answers, but waits for the answers from you.

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The sun shining down on a desert landscape

The Dry Place

One of the leadership aspects that stands out to me in this story is the struggle for power. Where does real power come from? The second thing that stands out to me is leadership authority. Under whose authority is Jesus operating? Jesus was not too gifted for his own good. He was offered the temptation, yet Jesus seemed to know where real power came from. It was a test at the beginning of his public ministry. What kind of leader would he be? Under whose authority? Would he reach for the bread of fame? Would he rule by force? Would he take what he wanted when he wanted in whatever manner that he wanted? Would the end results justify the means?

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A dove in flight

The Deep Place

What’s true in the light is still true in the dark. Before Jesus does anything right or anything wrong, God the Father affirms the Son fully and faithfully. It is not an act of performance-based love. It is not an award for best sales or best customer service representative. It is not in response to words of critique by others about Jesus nor words of encouragement from others about Jesus.

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