Maybe God Is Tryin' To Tell You Somethin'
This Month, we focus on Advent. Advent is the four-Sunday season, beginning with the First Sunday of December through the Fourth Sunday. It is filled with reflective preparation for Jesus of Nazareth’s Nativity at Christmas and Christ’s expected return in the Second Coming.
In this Sermon Series, Pastor Johnson preaches from the life of Mary of Nazareth as written in the Gospel of Luke Chapters 1 and 2 using themes from Alice Walker's 1982 Novel, The Color Purple, which was first adapted into a movie in 1985. A second adaption is set to be released on December 25, 2023. Every person has a unique and special calling in the Kingdom. Recognizing, Responding, and discharging our Responsibilities to that call is the most important work we will ever do.
Learn how to gracefully work through life's unexpected challenges and find a deeper faith while on your journey. In this Advent, our hearts are drawn to a young teenager in an incredibly vulnerable position. She's not a stranger to vulnerability and is well acquainted with injustice; after all, she's grown up in the "wrong" neighborhood in Palestine as part of the "wrong" social class on the "wrong" side of political influence/power, and, let's not forget that she's the "wrong" gender in a patriarchal society. All these dynamics weigh on her perspective of life and identity. And to add to all that, she finds herself pregnant. With all those "wrongs" working against her, Mary does what is "right," just like her namesake, Miriam, who saved Moses and later leads Israel with her brothers Moses and Aaron.
Mary said, "Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1: 38
This Advent, we pause, remember, and enter the profound mystery of God becoming Man. It is inconceivable to celebrate Christmas without considering Mary and her "yes." Together, we sit with the Divine Disruptions from Luke 1:26-38, Divine Connections from 1:39 - 56, and the Divine Manifestations from Luke 2:1-12.
Born and raised in Haiti, Patrica Brintle moved to the U.S. in 1964. Self-taught, her colorful style reflects her native land. Her style is as varied as her subjects and she favors bright and vivid colors as she explores the universality of human emotions in every one of her artworks. Each weekly cover piece is of a Madonna and Child.
“Faith has taught me to see the miraculous in everyday life: the miracle of ordinary black women resisting and rising about evil forces in society, where forces work to destroy and subvert the creative power and energy my mother and grandmother taught me God gave black women.”
― Delores Williams, the forerunner of Womanist theology
best known for her book Sisters in the Wilderness
The Color Purple, both as a novel and a movie, has left an indelible mark on culture, particularly resonating with marginalized people worldwide. Alice Walker, the novel’s author, shattered barriers when she published it in 1982. It became the first work by a Black woman to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. The film adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1985, further solidified its cultural significance. In honor of the 2023 movie adaptation, Pastor Johnson used the major themes to inform the liturgy.
Why? Because “The Color Purple” transcends mere entertainment, it becomes a shared language of empowerment. Let’s explore its cultural significance and theological depth:
Redefining God and Spirituality:
Walker asserts that her novel is a theological work examining the journey from the religious to the spiritual. Despite beginning with the words “Dear God,” the novel’s deeper intent is often overlooked.
The desire to encounter the Ultimate Ancestor—to connect with the Divine—is central. Walker challenges the traditional notion of God as a distant patriarchal figure.
She suggests that God's transformation into Nature—trees, stars, wind—camouflages the novel’s intent. Through courage and help from others, characters break free into the realization that they are radiant expressions of the Divine.
The novel grounds its theological element in the material reality of Black lives in the South during the early 1900s. This grounding is often overlooked due to other critical lenses.
Womanist Theology and the Color Purple:
The color purple holds significance within womanist theology. It symbolizes regality, wisdom, femininity, and imagination.
Like the color itself, womanism asserts humanity, resistance, self-recovery, and resilience for Black women throughout history.
Walker’s novel embodies this womanist perspective, intertwining spirituality with the material experiences of characters like Celie and Shug Avery.
Material and Spiritual Liberation:
The novel and film tackle abuse head-on. They expose the physical, emotional, and sexual violence faced by Black women.
Celie’s struggle with traditional Christianity reflects the actual religious experiences of Black women. Her journey toward spiritual independence mirrors their quest for self-discovery.
Walker challenges the oppressive aspects of religion, emphasizing personal transformation and the redefinition of God.
Through sustained theological revisioning, the novel shifts from a patriarchal notion of God to a more inclusive understanding that empowers characters and dismantles victimization.