But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. – Hebrews 10:39 (NIV)
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Author, spiritual leader, and political activist Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love.)
After these unending months of navigating Covid-19 and the long struggling amidst the unveiling of Covid-1619, I have been compelled to remind the community, the church, and myself: we belong to a people “born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”
This has led to conversations on the street and in the church where we give ourselves freedom to dream, permission to ask for exactly what we want and to show up in new, bold, authentic, and creative ways.
No more apologizing for putting more of the church’s resources towards acts of kindness and works of justice instead of pouring most of what we have into one hour a week.
No more trying to fit a narrative, a history, a story that isn’t ours and doesn’t want us anyway. We are claiming our place. Creating our space. Embracing our power. Celebrating our ancestors. Reclaiming our heritage of strength in community. Stirring up the gifts of the people. Each person. We are dismantling and building all at the same time—with unchecked joy and audacious possibility.
God of Glory, thank you for your still speaking word that reminds us that we belong to you and to one another.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.