Hood and Holy
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. – John 1:14 (The Message)
To me, the pandemic felt like a cruel game of hide-and-seek with God. I didn’t know I was “it,” but for two years I found myself covering my eyes and counting cases, deaths, tears, and fears. When I got tired of counting and began to search for God in all of it, I panicked. I looked under every rock and around every corner. Sometimes I found the residue of God’s presence, but other times I found only chaos.
So many of us have lamented the disruption that Covid-19 has been to our worship. Sure, God is everywhere, but God’s home base is the sanctuary, right?
But as Shug Avery says to Celie in Alice Walker’s epic novel, The Color Purple: “…have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.”
God’s home base is the neighborhood and God is the preeminent good neighbor. Picture it: God is on the front stoop, watching the kids jump double-dutch, waving at the mail carrier, listening to Frankie Beverly and Maze on repeat. God wants to be in the messiness of life with us, sighing with us as we sit in the idling car in the driveway after a long day of work, pacing the floor with us when we can’t fall asleep, dancing with us as we fold laundry to our favorite tunes. Have you seen God in the neighborhood lately?
God, you know where we live! Thank you for moving in, not to displace or shame, but to share light and love and life. May our search for you always lead us home.
Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart is a Black queer preacher, teacher, and agitator. She is an adjunct professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University and is the founder of Salt | Yeast | Light, where she develops spaces of theological candor, disruption, reflection, transformation, and public action.