We are all born into a heritage that–depending on one’s belief system–we did or did not choose, and yet we are responsible for knowing that heritage and determining the type of legacy we will leave for those coming behind us. Now, while I have no farming skills nor even a green thumb, the imagery that comes to mind is horticultural, for taking on the duty to know and acknowledge the truth of one’s heritage is tantamount to planting good seed in good soil. That is how you harvest your heritage and that is how you leave a legacy.
In seminary I was required to take Church History, and as we took an invasive and interrogatory look into the history of Christianity, the professor advised us that it was our responsibility to accept both the good and the bad as part of that heritage. From Christianity’s hook-up with the Roman empire during the reign of Constantine in 313 after the Edict of Milan decriminalized Christianity, to the sanctioning of the Inquisition, the Crusades, antisemitism, slavery, world-wide colonialism, and intolerance to name a few, Christianity has been and continues to be pretty brutal, violent, and anti-Jesus. We don’t have to go back far in history either, as in we only need go back a few months, a few weeks, a few days, or even a few moments ago. But if we were to consider a poignant moment in time, 11/9 of 2016 is as damming as any when 80% of American evangelical Christians helped elect a rabid racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, bigoted, fascist, white supremacist to the White House. On the heels of completing only two months in office, the unethical, unjust, immoral, unpatriotic, and plain un-Christian faux pas of 45 and his cabinet are too numerous to count and too painful to rehash, but rehash and resist and resolve, we must!
It is fascinating to me that my enslaved ancestors somehow knew that the Christianity that was being forced on them did not line up with the Jesus in the Bible. That has always been puzzling to me, because the question that I could not answer is how could they have known. My own father abandoned Christianity when I was a child, because there was no redemption for his black body in a white Jesus, and I totally get that. Still, our ancestors knew something about this Jesus that could not be tainted by their experiences with white people and western Christianity. Well, it just might be the fact that contrary to what most of us have been told and conditioned to believe, Christianity hit the continent of Africa in the 1st or early 2nd century A.D.–which is before it arrived in Europe and more than a thousand years before the mercenary missionaries “brought” Christianity to the Africans. In essence, we have neglected our duty as individuals, as families, as cultures, as people of faith to know and acknowledge the truth of our micro ancestry and our macro heritage.
Now, to get back to harvesting and the horticulture imagery…this duty to know and acknowledge truth brings to mind Jesus’ Parable of the Sower found in Mark chapter four. In the parable, the seed is “the word” which, for our purposes, is the truth, and the truth though it may be accessible, is not always absorbed. In explaining the parable to his disciples, Jesus puts it this way:
The farmer sows the word(truth). Some people are like seed along the path, where the word(truth) is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word(truth) that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word(truth) and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word(truth), they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word(truth); but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word(truth), making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word(truth), accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.
Harvesting comes from hearing and accepting, from heeding and abiding, from healing and aligning–without which we produce nothing and contribute to the drought. This Lenten journey is about planting good seed in good soil–seed that will empower you to harvest your heritage and leave a legacy!
Tara LaShawn Seabrook is a self-proclaimed “free spirit,” a public, practical, and prophetic theologian; a spiritual and social justice activist; a creative and cultural artist; and a prolific teacher, speaker, and writer. Currently, she resides in Guatemala where she is finishing up a 2-year volunteer in mission commitment with a non-governmental organization before returning to her native Charleston, SC in the spring of 2017. Her book based on her original poem, “I Am She: The Anthology” will be released later this year.