#TreasuresofDarkness, Day 14. Song of Solomon 1: 5–6. Celebrating the Beauty of Blackness.

I am black and I am beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! (Song of Solomon 1: 5–6 NRSV)

Today is Valentine’s Day in the United States of America.

It is a day that we declare our great love for the people in our lives.

Today, I declare my love for myself and for my people.

We are black and we are beautiful…

Beautiful Blackness

This statement alone is a radical one in the United States of America.

It is more radical still within the context of a Christian denomination

that is 97% European-American.

When I say, “I am black and I am beautiful”

within this context,

it is nothing short of revolutionary.

#DecolonizeLutheranism and #TreasurersofDarkness is about creating sacred space for black and brown bodies to declare, “I am black and I am beautiful.” It is about making room at the welcome table for all people, even those who do not descend from Northern European countries. It is about becoming welcoming communities of faith for any and all marginalized people who lift up holy hands and radicalized voices to say, “I am, I exist, and I am beautiful.”

Therefore, next time a well-meaning and curious person in my church asks me, “What kind of Lutheran are you?,” I will lift up my head and declare, “I am the black and beautiful kind, who has family with Lutheran roots that stretch six generations deep into the Southern soils of Oklahoma and Louisiana. I am the black and beautiful kind, whose family has produced thirteen Lutheran pastors. I am the black and beautiful kind, who claps her hands in worship and shouts, “Amen! Hallelujah!”

We are black and we are beautiful.

Therefore, when the choir chooses, (against all better judgement in 2017), to sing, “Wash me white as snow,” my family will continue to sing loud and proud, “Wash me pure as snow,” and when people ask us why we have change the words in this fashion, we will smile and say, “White is not equivalent to purity, wholeness or holiness.”

Mary, Mother of Jesus

We are black and we are beautiful.

#SLAY

Therefore, when the pastor uses a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus on the screen during her sermon, I will not hush the audible gasp of my children, nor my eight year old son’s voice boldly shouting, “WHO is that Mom? That’s not MY JESUS!” And I will answer, just as loudly and boldly, “No it’s not son.”

We are black and we are beautiful.

Today, I send a love letter to the black and beautiful Eve,

Mother of Humanity.

I send a love letter to the black and beautiful woman named Hagar

who raised up a great nation.

I send a love letter to the black and beautiful Queen of Sheba,

who tested Solomon’s wisdom.

I send a love letter to the black and beautiful Ethiopian Eunuch

who shared his newfound faith with others.

I send a love letter to the black and beautiful Mary,

who is the Mother of God.

Finally, I send a love letter to our black and beautiful Jesus,

Savior of the world.

We are black and we are beautiful

and we are beloved by God.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Reverend Yolanda Denson-Byers is a child of God, called as a wife and mother to her family. She is also a pastor in the ELCA. She makes her home in Minnesota where she is finishing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Congregational Mission and Leadership at Luther Seminary. She is currently serving as a hospice chaplain, pastoring people who are dying and their families. Yolanda affirms that #blacklivesmatter and strives for peace with justice in all spheres of her life.

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Trybal Pastor

Child of Creator=Purpose; Guided by Ancestors = Revolution; Empowered by Holy Spirit = Transformation; Liberated through Ancient Spirituality and Ritual =Love.