Fast Wednesdays: May 10, 2017 — Removing the Shackles (Happy Mother’s Day)

Greetings Beloved!

Our topic for this week is “Removing the Shackles.” My professor for my “Muslims in North America and Europe” class must have know how busy I would be this week preparing for count down to graduation on Friday, May 12. He allowed me to write our blog today as a final project. You, like me, will be happy to know, I hope, I received an A in the class! It was one of the most greatest achievements of my studies at Hartford Seminary. I truly enjoy him and everyone from the school will know who he is and agree that the grade did not come easy. I wish I could have studied with him earlier, I would be Nobel Prize material by now.

Happy Mother’s Day this weekend. I have also posted a prayer in our Facebook Group. Let’s all be mindful that Mother’s Day is not as exciting and joyful for some as others. Actually, it can be downright depressing, lonely and miserable. I pray that God will keep us ALL in perfect peace as we keep our minds on him through it all.

Removing the Shackles:

While the politics of slavery still haunts and dehumanizes on so many levels, race and gender, provide an interconnectedness, not withstanding for women. As we fast and pray today, let us be mindful of some of the reasons for fasting especially as we connect together as a community. Reasons for fasting vary from, for freedom from addiction, to solve problems, to break crippling fears and other mental problems, to provide for the needy, for insight and decision making, for health and physical healing, for an influential testimony, and fasting for protection from the evil one.

Many of us, as women of African American heritage, know what slavery is about intimately, through our ancestors. However, if we think on slavery, from within our context as a community of women of various faiths, slavery is far older than the one our African American ancestors experienced when they came to America.1 We recently celebrated Easter. I was reminded of how the Israelites were slaves in Egypt until one season, when God told Moses to go down to Pharaoh and tell him to “let my people go.” God was their Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider, as he even parted the Red Sea allowing the massive escape of over 2 million!

Slavery still exists in the world today, as we know. There are considered five major types of slavery: 1. Sex Slavery, 2. Forced Labor, 3. Domestic Servitude, 4. Child Slavery and 5. Bonded Labor.2 In addition to physical slavery, many people are enslaved in their minds or in what is called spiritual slavery/addictions. The mind, heart and soul are our primary focus in “Removing the Shackles.” A stunning 75 million people have a problem with alcohol abuse; more than 12 million people have sexual addictions; the number of people who have drug addictions is stated as being more than 23 million.3 Let us collectively pray for the elimination of slavery, in every form it raises its ugly head, as we fast and pray.

Certainly there is unspoken and invisible power, residing in many American institutions that are performing unjust actions against the common man, and in our case, women. However, what they often forget, is that the marginalized, victimized, and oppressed, occasionally unite and create change for the betterment of all people. We have a very visible reminder with the civil rights movement. When we speak truth to power by becoming activists even in the slightest ways we change the world.

John 8:36 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. God does not want any of his daughters shackled in any type of bondage. This scripture is very liberating as it is telling us we do not have to be slaves to sin. The slavery the scripture is based on, comes in our minds. There’s a battle going on in the mind, heart and soul. Yet, no matter what we are struggling with, God has already made a way of escape and victory. That excites me and gives me hope. My prayer is you also have hope, excitement and liberty. Our forefathers had this hope and excitement too. They suffered much for us. It is now time for us to be steadfast, unmovable, loving on each other and the next generations.

SCRIPTURE:

Isaiah 58:6 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) 6 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Commentary on versus 6:4

  • Description of the true fast in which Jehovah delights. The duties include abstinence from

every form of oppression (Isaiah 58:6). This as the moral essence of fasting, the prophet may be guided by the principle so often inculcated by our Lord, that he who would obtain mercy from God must shew a merciful disposition towards his fellow-men (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:35 &c.). Or the idea may be that the spirit of self-denial possesses no value before God unless it be carried into the sphere of social duty.

  • the bands (R.V. bonds) of wickedness] i.e. unjust and oppressive obligations.
  • to undo the heavy burdens] Lit. to untie the Bands of the yoke. Yoke can be seen on oxen and are used to help them been in harmony.
  • the oppressed is literally the “broken” (Deuteronomy 28:33; ch. Isaiah 42:3),—bankrupts, whose liberty had been forfeited to their creditors (cf. Nehemiah 5:5).

SONG(S):

I am sharing three songs today. The first one comes from a young lady I recently heard, Lizzie No. She is an African American, harpist playing, folk singer. Her CD is called Hard Won. She states “A lot of women, especially women of color, are handed this idea that we have to be really strong for everybody and that our anger and our sadness and our confusion is dangerous, and that’s something that I’ve internalized a lot throughout the course of my life,” No says. “So the title track, ‘Hard Won’ — it really is a victory, a personal victory for myself because I had to get used to the idea that it was okay to get mad and actually have anger be a tool for healing rather than something that’s scary.” I can relate to No. As the oldest sister, I felt I had an obligation to be strong for my four siblings. Whenever I had a failure, which we really need to start looking at as opportunities versus failures, I would beat myself up badly. Reason being, many times I was asked, not necessarily by my parents, but by well-meaning, sarcasm intended, adult family members and friends, “just what type of example are you setting for your younger sisters and brothers. You are not being a good role model. You are suppose to be strong and morally responsible.” The guilt would set in. I would angrily work harder to try and overachieve at every opportunity that came along. This was certainly not realistic. Thank God I eventually made peace with and let myself off the hook. Now, I have fairly decent relationships with my siblings and we have forgiven each other, long ago, for being human!

One of the songs on the CD is called:

“The Killing Season.”5 No says it “came out of the grief” she felt last summer, when she heard a string of news stories about people of color being killed by police. ‘The worst thing that can happen to a person is to not be allowed to be seen as fully human in the complex ways that we all are,’ she says ‘So I felt this need to start to describe my worldview and what I was experiencing. And I think I’m gonna keep doing it.6‘”

Second Song – Mary Mary – Shackles (Praise You)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7eZD3TKn_M

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance, I just wanna praise you, I just wanna praise you, You broke the chains now I can lift my hands, And I’m gonna praise you

I’m gonna praise you

Third Song – Break Every Chain – Tasha Cobb

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pD2zIuiC2g

There is power in the name of Jesus [3x]  to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

[Chorus:]

There is power in the name of Jesus [3x] to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

[Lead:]

There’s an army rising up. [3x] To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

[Chorus:]

There’s an army rising up. [3x] To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

[Vamp:]

I hear the chains falling.

[End:]

There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

PRAYER:

Father in Heaven, we come before you today, thanking you for your favor, grace and mercy towards us. Everyday you give us new ones and they fail not nor cease not. We thank you for your faithfulness unto us, even though we are often not faithful to you. Deepen our faith as we fast, pray and interact with others. Help us to break the chains of addictions and other strongholds that would seek to control our hearts, minds, and souls and devour us. Help us to throw off the shackles of a society that brought my people here from places such as Africa and enslaved them centuries ago. Please also break the chains of power, race and politics that seek to enslave us all today. We praise You for breaking the chains as does humankind everywhere. Amen.

Love, Joy and Peace,

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), FB (Debra Fuller Ellis), https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

1http://www.slavevoyages.org/assessment/intro-maps

2 http://www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2016/08/05/5-examples-slavery-world-today

3http://www.serenityrehab.org/blog/addiction/%EF%BB%BFunderstanding-the-spiritual-slavery-of-addiction/

4http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/58-6.htm

5https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRzUjFuFgww and https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lizzieno3

6 http://www.npr.org/2017/04/15/523969838/folk-musician-lizzie-no-on-anger-that-heals


Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

 

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!

The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”  Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog.

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