Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Series #36: Spring Break Service Trip - Top/Iron Chef

One blessing of the trip was many of our meals were hosted by groups or individuals from the Atlanta area.  So usually during these trips, the group would have to cook dinner each night.  But the way it worked this year we only had to cook for two of the eight nights.  So I thought about it… And then it hit me let us do a “top chef/iron chef” competition. We would break up into two groups and they would have to decide their menu (3courses) and shop on a budget, and prepare the meal within 1.5hrs.  Since we had two days, one group would cook on Monday and the other on Tuesday. The group not cooking had free time during the preparation, however; they would be responsible for the games/icebreaker activity for after dinner. The students were ecstatic about this idea and could not wait to get it going.

I talked it over with Elizabeth (whose church we were using) and she suggested instead of having a particular ingredient, make it theme based.  The two easiest to think of and that would be familiar to everyone were Italian and Mexican.  Sunday evening we began the process. When it came to breaking up the groups we put everyone’s name in a cup and alternated with the picking. I then gave them an index card that had their “secret theme” on it. Group 1 had Mexican and Group 2 , Italian.  They were given 30minutes to plan their menus and to prepare their grocery list.  They were given a budget of $45 for ten people, which were also to include our beverages.

They also decided to compare list among the two groups to decide what they could purchase together in order to conserve.  After we planned the menu  we headed back to our sleeping quartered, and eventually made our way to  the 24hour Wal-Mart. It was about 10:45pm, and everyone was given 30minutes in the store before they had to meet me at the cashier.  The two groups had to shop, plus 1 person had to get our breakfast foods, and  two others had to get everything we needed for lunches, while I took care of our snacks and miscellaneous items for the week.  It was great watching them run up and down the aisles trying to get what they needed and meet us before their time was up.  Each group actually came close to their budget limit, but did not go over. Also, it was great seeing them work together. It was a very healthy competition even til the end.  It was interesting how the groups panned out. Group #1 had two strong characters who had to learn how to work together in the kitchen and understand that the meal had to come together and was not about their individual dishes, but he collective experience.

They kept asking me who won. I kept pushing it off because I know how folks get when they are criticized, and when you have to choose a winner amongst them. And I was clearly not just going to say everyone wins! So I finally told them while at dinner at Elizabeth’s on Friday who won and gave constructive criticism of their meals. (Yes, momma didn’t raise no fool, I waited til the last day).

On Monday (Mexican Night) the menu was:
Nachos (appetizer), pan fried breaded chicken, and vegetable fried rice (main course) strawberry smoothes (desert)

On Tuesday (Italian Night) the menu was:
Bruschetta (appetizer), Chicken Parmesan w/spaghetti noodles (main course) strawberry filled glazed cupcakes (desert)

Group #2 won the competition because of the extra work they put into the appetizers and dessert and their usage of the dining room décor in which we ate (e.g. sitting us under the chandelier, utilizing real plate-ware, etc.).What another great part of our trip together.  This activity provided another way for bonding to take place. It also was essential for each team member to work in unity and bring their own gifts to the table to help enhance the overall presentation of the group. Another reason why I love my job…being able to utilize unconventional techniques to provide teaching moments for my students. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lenten Series #35: Passover Seder

This evening I had the opportunity to share in the Passover Seder, hosted by our Rabbi and my coworker, Howie along with his wife Debbie. What a great time of fellowship, learning, and sharing with a few members of the Grinnell Jewish community. I had never participated in a Seder celebration, and was pleasantly surprised at how much of the language of the liturgy translated into my own Christian understanding of Passover, and of God. There were some clear distinction  (eg, language that surrounded the desire for the coming of  the Messiah who has yet to come), but for the most part I felt a deep connection to the service, and was  fully able to worship and see the God of Israel as the same God of my ancestors. There was a key part of the liturgy that stood out to me. There were clear emphasizes on seeing the Passover as a celebration of not just the past, but he present and the future.  I went not knowing what to expect, and found myself in the midst of great people, celebrating a Great God! 

This experience got me to thinking... our churches are celebrating holy week, but many of us never fully take time to observe Passover, as Jesus did before he was taken to the cross. In our desire to be like Christ, we often forget to acknowledge his heritage as a Jewish man.  As I sat at the table, sang song in the Hebrew alliteration, and /or listened to the prayers lifted by those who spoke Hebrew. As I read the English translation, as we broke the matzo (unleavened bread), I could not help but feel a deeper connection with Jesus, who in human flesh dwelt among us as a Jew.  I thought about Jesus and the host of ancestors who have come before us. As we sat around the table, I thought of Easter dinner when my grandmother was alive, and how she served as a testament of the love of God through generations. I honor and respect Passover as a Jewish tradition, but I also recognized the same God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt , is the same God who  brought black folks out of enslavement, and continues to set free/liberates those who remain in a variety of bondages. Just as we often forget that Jesus was a Jew, we at times neglect to recognize our own heritage and how integral it is in who we are.

This got me to think about another part of the Seder liturgy that intrigued me. There was a clear call for each of us to go forth and be the Liberators.  I left knowing that the God that empowered Moses to go to Pharaoh, is the same God who has empowered me to Go and set the captives free by standing up to the modern day Pharaoh (whatever/whomever they may be).  In the liturgy we used, it actually called for the singing of a spiritual that I knew quite well, “Go Down Moses” (probably the only time that I was able to sing with confidence). I leave you with these words, and with this question… Did God not move for the Jewish People? Did God not move for the Black People? Will God not move for You?  Will you not GO?

When Israel was in Egypt's land,
let my people go;
oppressed so hard they could not stand,
let my people go.
Go down, (go down) Moses, (Moses)
way down in Egypt's land;
tell old Pharaoh
to let my people go!

2. "Thus saith the Lord," bold Moses said,
let my people go;
"if not, I'll smite your first-born dead,"
let my people go.

3. No more shall they in bondage toil,
let my people go;
let them come out with Egypt's spoil,
let my people go.

4. We need not always weep and mourn,
let my people go;
and wear those slavery chains forlorn,
let my people go.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lenten Series #34: Spring Break Service Trip - Friendship

When planning this trip, I depended on friendships that I have developed over the years. There were many people helped to make last week successful. It was great because I only had to make calls and folks came through in big ways. For instance, the church we stayed in was the church of a grad school friend.  She serves as Associate pastor and Minister to the youth. She allowed us to stay in the youth center which was adjacent to the main church building. She was very hospitable and even hosted us at her home for dinner on Friday. There were so many friends who offered their services last week. They engaged with my students by sharing and listening to them as they grappled with the issues at hand.  When I am at in Grinnell it is hard sometimes to remember all the friendships that I have made through the years. My mother taught me a long time ago to never burn bridges because one day you just may need them. Returning to ATL reminds me of how God has placed people in my life and although we may be far, the friendships remain and are cherished just as though we were in the same city all the time.  I know I posted these thank you’s on my facebook page, but I think it is appropriate to highlight them here as well…

Thanks to Elizabeth Lobello, for hosting us at her church and her home, She is a great friend!!! Thanks to James Henry Alexander, Katrina Moore, Jason Myers, and my Baptist colleagues for sponsoring a lunch for us. And thanks to my other Candler friends who came to the lunch and shared with my students (Katie Klosterman, Juana Jordan, Quentin Samuels). Special thanks to one of my favorite professors, Dr. Gregory C. Ellison II for your wisdom and sincerity as he shared with us! They are still raving about his presentation and your thoughtfulness. Thanks to Joseph McBrayer and Emory's Wesley students for hosting us for afternoon snacks. Ann Kathryn Bass-Lister and Ron Lister for connecting us and hosting us with Open Door Community. Thanks to Shannon Gatewood for sharing public/mental health issues around homelessness, and Amanda Garvin for sharing dinner with us on Friday. There were people who helped me initially as I decided what places we would go (Dianna Williams And Carmen Thompson, and my friends who responded to my FB request through a status update). Last but not least, I also want to thank my boss (Deanna Shorb) for supporting me and giving me leeway with the planning and implementing of this project. Also to Cheryl Fleener-Seymour (our Admin Assistant) for your encouragement and help with logistics, I am indeed grateful. If I am missing someone, please charge it to my head not my heart. THANK YOU ALL!

Before we arrived and during our stay in Atlanta, I tried to emphasize to my students the importance of maintaining a good name so that people will want to help you when the time comes. I don’t take for granted the blessing of having wonderful people in my life.
When it comes to friends, I never really had just one set of friends. Over the course of my life, I have found that the Almighty has surrounded me with many friends. There were times when I had a few close friends, but for the most part my friendship circle has been wide and continues to be stretched far. Plus occasional, You know... the church friends, school friends, seminarian friends,  science/math friends, black friends, white friends, international friends, brothers, sisters, organizational friends, etc. When asked to describe my friendship circle, I would always say that there was never one person you could call to find out what I was up to. I have tried to stay out of cliques while continuing to make new friends. The hard part of this is that it at times gets lonely. I find that I have to call people rather than being called.  Living in Grinnell is hard because I really don’t have those close friends as I had back in Atlanta and Baltimore.  My co-workers are great, but it is hard being the only black single young (under 30) professional.  Nevertheless, my trip to Atlanta gave me strength and a reminder of the many friends I do have and how blessed I truly am. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lenten Series #33: Spring Break Service Trip - Traveling

It’s true, have not blogged in a few days because our days were long and exhaustive.  I decided this week; I would double up on my bogging (especially since this in my week off). Instead of having one blog detailing everything we did during the service trip or outlining each day, I will use the blogs to present a few themes that stood out during the week.  

We arrived safely back to Grinnell late Saturday evening. What a drive! We flew by way of Kansas City but had to drive like 4 hours back to Grinnell.  The weather initially was cold and rainy in Kansas City, but as we headed back the rain stopped and it was actually very nice once we got into Iowa.  I must have had a great sleep on the plane because I was able to drive a lil over three hours straight. I normally have to stop at like the 2hr mark. I think it was a combination of having good sleep on the plane, and the students who returned kept lively conversations going. I could probably go all four hours, but it had become dark, we were hungry, and I knew that a break would not be a bad idea. Not all the students returned to Grinnell. The great thing about our spring break is that it is TWO WEEKS!! How exciting! The Chaplain’s Office Spring Break Service trip is also unique because the alternative break service trips are for the entire two weeks, but our office only does one week of service, so that the participants can have a break during the second week. This is also why I am taking this upcoming week off, and I am ecstatic! So some of the students caught flights from either ATL or Kansas City, and some had friends or were from those areas so they went their separate ways at the airports. We had grown so close over the week that everyone was hugging and giving heartfelt goodbye. It was very cute and exciting and made me smile.  I am even considering hosting reunion dinner at my apartment for them either near the end of the semester or the beginning of the next academic year.

I find when I drive with others in the car I drive more cautious and a lil nervous.  It was exacerbated by the fact that I was driving a 12 passenger van. It went well, but I do wish that I did not have to drive and could have spent more time in travel getting to know my students.  They kept me entertained. I was excited that they constantly switched up who would ride “shotgun”. This person was also given control of the radio, so we listened to a variety of music. they also were responsible for helping me with directions. I am grateful that my friend Elizabeth allowed us to use her GPS, but there were a few times when we still got lost.  For this reason i tried my best to be sure we gave ourselves enough travel time. The students did not understand this fully.  they thought i had them getting up early for no reason, neglecting to think about what it meant to be stuck in ATL traffic and also how I am responsible for their safety.  I did not realize the stress that i would have to take on in order to be sure we arrived where we needed to go and that everyone arrived in one piece.  Nevertheless, we made it to everything and there were no major injuries during the week. I was prepared though. We had their emergency contact sheets and even copies of their medical cards, in just in case something crazy went down.  But thanks be to God, All went well.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lenten Series #32: Spring Break Service Trip III

What a day! I woke up a lil cold because I think the church heat cuts
off at a certain time at night, but it was good because I woke up at
630am, got a shower and mentally prepared myself for the day's journey.
We visited Ebenezer Baptist. I did not know this before wee visited but
it was their 124th church anniversary. I think that experience was great
for the students. It was a lil long so we left right after the sermon.
Raphael Warnock , their pastor , did not preach because they had a guest
who happened to be one of his mentors.

The handbell choir ministered through bell ringing and the dance
ministry accompanied the musical worship of one of Ebenezer new members,
Jennifer Holiday. YES the original DreamGirls, Jennifer Holiday!!! She
sang and sang some more. She did an arrangement of Come Sunday by Duke
Ellington and then gave her own testimony through the old skool
Spiritual "How I Got Over". What a blessing she brings to Ebenezer and
brought to those of us visiting.

Several others things happened today that is noteworthy. We had lunch at
Mary Macs, a southern cuisine restaurant where we had good southern
sunday dinner. A good friend of mine Shannon joined us for lunch and
she talked with us about how her graduate work in public health at Emory
and how mental health is and should be a deep concern when addressing

Later that evening we gathered with the youth of our host church in
Douglassville. We played 4squares with them (which was a new game for
most of my Grinnell students), had an evening meal, then we talked to
them about why we are here this week and about college life in general.

There is more to this day, but I am falling asleep as I type this by way
of my phone. Maybe illl update tomorrow.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lenten Series #31: Spring Break Service Trip II

We just landed in ATL. Let me say, I don't know what is happening in the
midwest with weather, but it best be spring when we get back next week!
I am writing this while we are taxing the runway (but prob won't post
til later. I am grateful for the students who have taken this journey
with me. I pray that this trip is empowering for them in many ways. I
am also grateful for the people who have helped make this trip possible.
From my coworkers and boss at Grinnell, to those who will host us in
different ways. I am thrilled by what God I going to do.

Traveling today was insane. I was extremely nervous as I drove on icy
roads as snow, yes I said it, SNOW, came down beginning in Grinnell
where it continued to follow us (or we followed it) to Kansas City
(where we flew from to get to ATL). The weather was crazy but the
students were great. They made sure all luggage was taken care of and
they have been doing an awesome job self-governing themselves out of

When we arrived to the church we are staying our host Elizabeth greeted
us. It was great seeing Elizabeth!! I am excited and grateful that she
agreed to host us at the church is has been appointed to in
Douglasville. As I drove from the airport car rental spot (which is new
to ATL, nice, and annoying all at the same time) I thought and
reminisced the great times I had in ATL via Candler/Emory. The many
friends, the great professors, the dialogues, comraderies, challenges.

Please pray for this experience. This is not a religious gathering,
rather a social justice initiative But I, being who I am, cannot do
such work without hearing Jesus voice as he talked to Peter at the end
of the Gospel of John, "If you love me, feed my sheep!". I pray that as
we tend to God's children this week that we be forever reminded that our
love for God is and must be tied up with our love for all of humanity.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lenten Series #30: ACPA - TFSFR

ACPA convention began today. I announced earlier via facebook that I was elected to the directorate for the Task Force for Spirituality, Faith, and Religion. This is one of two national organizations for professionals within student affairs/higher education. American College Personnel Association (ACPA) is also known as College students educators International.  I joined ACPA in the fall before attending a workshop that they offered.  I enjoyed the workshop and thought I would get more involved in ACPA.   
 Once they sent me my membership information I began joining committees.  I joined several which included the Task Force on Spirituality, Faith, and Religion (TFSFR), Commission for Housing and Residential Life, Commission for Social Justice Educators, Commission for Multicultural Affairs. The one that interest me the most was the task force. I was curious as to why it was a task force and not a commission. Come to find out, they are seeking to be recognized as a commission, but since it is newly formed, they must go through the proper channels. After joining all the subgroups I began receiving emails galore. I was excited because emails came from people all around the world, and I saw myself as being connected to many who do the work of serving students as I do.
 In the beginning/middle of January I received an email form the taskforce chairperson, saying they were looking for members to run for the directorate. It was January, so students had not yet arrived to campus, thus I had a clear mind. So I sent them my letter of intent to run for a spot on the directorate. The election was held mid-Feb and I received the results by the end of February.  I have been so busy with many things that I had not had the opportunity to digest this and put it all in perspective. Why this task force? Why now?  So I went back to my letter of intent and realized the answers for me remained true:

My name is Michael A. Hunt, and I'm seeking to serve the ACPA community as an elected member of TFSFR's directorate board. I am new to ACPA for I have just found my calling to serve students within higher education. I am currently the Lilly Fellow in Religious Life and Residence Life Coordinator at Grinnell College. In the past year, I've graduated from Emory University with my Masters of Divinity where I also served as Graduate Assistant Chaplain and Chapel Assistant for the Office of Religious Life. I desire to assist with fulfilling the mission of TFSFR as we seek to become a commission of ACPA. We must be informed and educated on the many levels of promoting pluralism for religion and belief within higher education. I bring a new energy and sincere appreciation for the meaning-making that currently exist and should be further examined in the work we do as college student educators. We take serious the work of spiritual and religious development, and the meaning-making of our students and our communities, and I am confident that as a collaborative and intentional educator, I can continue to foster this same spirit as member of the TFSFR directorate.

Let’s be honest… It is not too many of us black folks represented on committees/commissions within ACPA. I hope that my experience will be a blessing to those I share these duties with. I hope to learn much and gain insight that will help me better serve students and the entire community in Grinnell and wherever I end up next. One of my mentors and colleague,  sent me an email today  emphasizing great it is that I am taking steps to be active because  the two major conventions (ACPA and NASPA) have lacked “the Black Church Perspective”  when talking about spirituality. Therefore, I hope this work will bring me closer to connecting the black church experience to that of how we approach spirituality, faith and religion  as colleges student educators. In addition, it is my desire that all the work described within this task force  would not just be left up to the Chaplain's Office or the Office of Religious Life within our colleges ,but that  every student affairs professional, every professor, administrator and staff person will find their place in recognizing that in some way we all are part of the spiritual/ faith/religious formation of our students.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lenten Series #29: My Earthly Father

Today in the office, I had a wonderful conversation with a student and a fellow staff member. It started off talking about taxes and me JOKING about needing a kid so that I could get some of those tax credits. The conversation somehow evolved into the realm of “family”.
I found my self disclosing some facts about my life, in particular about my father. I look at the beauty of children and can’t imagine how a father (not just mine) could leave his child. I  sometimes forget that I had a father, or a sperm-donator, because I have no record of him being in my life. I was raised in a single family home, father had another family so he did not want to have anything to do with me (actually denied me until a test was given in court). He paid child support until I was eighteen; lived in the same city, but not a word. I could have been riding the bus with him and would not have ever known. My mother never kept details away from me, and I know if I had pursued wanting to find my father she would have been supportive because she told me where he probably was. But I had no desire. 
 Nevertheless today, I sometimes wonder, what life would have been like if he had been around. I wonder sometimes about what lessons he would have taught me and what things he would have done for me. His name is Henry Parker; yeah I am putting him on blast! Hahaha.  If you know him, tell him that I said “Hi” and that God brought many people to fill the void he left in my life. And let "Pete" know (yes that is what they call him lol), God built Sherry with such an amazing backbone and spirit to raise me well. One day i hope to meet him, but until then I will continue to pray for him and his family and my bitterness.  LOL
The other staff member reminded us that every part of our family history is part of our personal journey. For me this journey has not been easy, but knowing that God has been there the entire time makes it all worth it. For me God has been Father.
Since being in seminary, I have come to appreciate what is known as “inclusive language’, seeing and referring to God in many ways beyond masculine pronouns.Sometimes people take the other extreme and utilize only feminine pronouns, which if is always done yields the same results, a limited God. Often I try to stay away from God has he or Father because we use it so much that it pigeonholes God from being more. But in the context of this particular blog, God had been Father to the Fatherless. And so with a deep sincere prayer, I cry out just as the ol’ Baptist deacons would line:
“Father, I stretch, my hands to thee, no other help I know, if thou withdraws thyself from me, O whether I shall go!”

I can then hear them moaning…
“ I came to Jesus, jus’ as I was, wearied, wounded, and sad, but I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad!”

My earthly father may have been pitiful, but God stepped in and turned my mourning into dancing! Blessed be The LORD!!

 Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lenten Series #28: Caring for Our Students

This week our students are in the midst of midterms, affectionately known as “Hell Week”. They are very stressed because of papers and exams, and readings that are due in the midst of the papers and exams, and let’s not forget the general issues of life that can be stressful for a teenager/young adult.Their classes can be extremely demanding and on top of that I have heard that many professors don’t stick to the syllabus. You may think that is a good thing because your experience may be like mine where professors didn’t stick to the syllabus but took things away or adjusting dates to accommodate for the stressfulness of life. But not here at Grinnell. Many students talk about how their professors add reading and other assignments that are made to be due on the very next class period. Now, I am not saying it is all the professors but it is clear that some need a wake call and a reminder that they were once students as well. This is indeed a wellness issue and I hope some will stand up and continue being advocates for the overall well being of our students. This is a very touchy subject on this campus because the classroom at Grinnell seems to be “sacred”, and just from my few months here I notice at times for our student there are disconnects from the reality of life and the rigor of the classroom.

As a staff person that has students staff report to me, I constantly remind myself that I was once a student, and since I am a life-long learner, I remain a student. Therefore I recognize that there are some things about time management and self responsibility that I expect from my staff, but I balance that knowing life happens, and like they say “shit happens”, so I am mindful of their needs, physically (always providing snacks during meetings), mentally (asking how they are doing) and spiritually (encouraging them to find and utilize their own spiritual practice). I wish, better yet, I pray that we as faculty and staff continue to support every aspect of their being so that when it comes time for them to leave us, they will leave appreciating their entire journey. Don't get me wrong, i  don't have the answers on how to see this happen  (I am still learning),  but one thing i have learned from my students is that it is important that we as staff and faculty examine our role in the insanity that is happening on our campus when it comes to the stress and mental stability of our students. 

Now, imagine if Jesus was used as the pedagogical model within the academy. Jesus not only taught his disciples, but fully integrated himself as part of the community. He ate with them, shared his life with them. He admonished them, yet he loved them. And his teachings remained at the heart of his disciples’ journey. We hear it loud in clear from Peter in Acts 2:40 “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Is this not the same message Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

I am convinced that if we care for the whole aspect of our students we would have provided them with the tools of being mindful of their needs as well-balanced individual. I know it is a better way to say this; hopefully I can come back and reword what I am trying to say.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Series #27: Without Words

I have nothing to say today.  Very weird, ! know.  I have been extremely busy with preparation for our spring break trip while still preparing  for events this week on campus, and meeting with students who are of concern. Maybe tomorrow i will have something fresh to share, but tonight i find myself with out words.  My days have been long, my  rest has been short, but i am indeed grateful for what God has and continues to bless me with. 

I  want to say one thing though... I do pray for many friends who are in the midst of standing before boards seeking ordination, and/or jobs for post graduation. As I told recently told one of my past roommates: 
I pray that God moves on your behalf.  I pray that you continue being courageous, honest,  and dynamic in only the ways that you can. I pray that the Almighty  guides your thoughts and the thoughts of those who you will stand before. And finally, I pray that when it is all said and done that no matter what you continue knowing that you are called, and knowing Who has already called you!

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lenten Series #26: Pre- Spring Break Update I

I feel really busy! This is the week before spring break and it seems that every hour of my day is planned out. Either by meetings or things i need to get down before we head out for break. The first week of break i will be taking a nine students to Atlanta, Georgia as a service trip to examine and focus on the issue of homelessness. We have a full schedule of projects planned (minus two days that i am still working on). I am extremely excited!  This excitement stems form not just going to ATL to do work, but because of the group of students I am taking are phenomenal! Next week, I will try to blog while in Atlanta but that may be difficult.   The quote that is guiding our trip is simply:
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." -Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal Elder and Activist speaking to missionaries. 

This is the focus I would like our students to have as we navigate the waters of homelessness.  It is important to realize that we are not free to all are free and homelessness is a bondage that many of our brothers and sisters are facing. Don't get me wrong helping is necessary, but i think what Lila was saying was that firs the realization of the link of our liberation will change the way you help and they way you treat me and the way you interact with me. When we work together the power dynamics shift. You don't see yourself better than me, and thus i am no longer invisible but seen as an integral part of the team. 

Now imagine if the church took this approach. Imagine if we begun working with folks and being part of the team and not looking to just help or seeking recognition. Imagine if titles were not a big deal, but instead set ourselves free from the bondage of self-promotion and power gluttony.  Goodnight!

Peace, Love and Prosperity, 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lenten Series #25: Music Provides a Glimmer of Hope

This weekend, I got the chance to go to part of a campus concert featuring our college Orchestra.  At first, I did not know the concert was happening (so much happens on campus that you some times forget about other aspects of campus life). I decided to go because I was invited javascript:void(0)by a student I met randomly while eating dinner at the dining hall last week. He and a friend were sitting down and I recognized their faces from being around campus but did not know them until that day. They both had already known my name and that I was one of the RLCs. The friend also had heard me speak earlier that week at the Intervarsity student community worship. 

During dinner we got to talking about religion and what it means to be Christian on this campus.  It was a great discussion and very theologically stimulating (something I have been missing since leaving seminary). Following this discussion I asked about his major, he told me he wanted to do music, but the music department here is very much  theory-based and not experimental-based. In other words, they want him to follow all the music rules, but he wants to improvise and create new masterpieces by making new laws/rules. So he decided that he will continue music as a passion but not as a major. That is when he invited me to the concert where he was the featured pianist. He would be accompanied by the orchestra. in the bulletin it mentioned that "He really enjoyed playing piano when he began improvising on it, because it allows his imagination to run free once again."

Because I was on-call all weekend, there were a few things I had to take care of on Saturday afternoon before getting to the concert. But I got to the recital hall just in time to hear him. I had never been to any music recital and at first I was lost as to where in our performing arts building the recital was being held.  When I found it and I was relieved and sat on the back row, right next to our College President, Russell. The student who invited me was next on the program, so as we waited I had small-chat with Russell and some of the students in front of me.  The stage was being reset,  they brought the grand piano to the front of the stage, the orchestra got tuned up, and we waited for a second, the door open, and the audience begun to applaud because here comes the featured student pianist, followed the professor/conductor.  he took his seat, and after getting comfortable, he nodded to the conductor and the selection began, Beethoven's "Concerto for Piano No 1 in C, Op. 15".

I immediately had a flashback of the many concerts I  enjoyed  as a child at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra because of my mother’s connection with Morgan State University. The contrast was, the Baltimore Orchestra were adults, professionals. But then I begun to think that these students, the celloists, the violinists, the featured pianist, would some day be those professionals and I was in awe!  They were amazing and he did an outstanding job! To think that in ten or so they may be playing for the world’s best orchestras and leading symphonies, and some of them are going to be doctors, lawyers, scientist,  who have a love and passion for music and  will continue that passion while saving the world in their different and unique ways.  How exciting is this! A glimmer of hope for me as I have had along weekend, dealing with crazy students who don’t know how to control their alcohol usage! (Ughhhh!)

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lenten Series #24: On-Call

This weekend I am on-call and there are several big parties on campus. I think I am going to bed now so that in case i am called in the middle of the night, i will be sane.  This is one part of my job that i am not a fan of.  Although it gives me training on handling emergency situations and crisis management, i just don't like being awaken in the middle of the night!  Yes i know that if i was a pastor early morning/late night emergency calls happen more frequently.  That is why i am a fan of ministries having on-call rotation so that the pastor is not the only one dealing with such situations.  I think i might come back at some point and expound on this, but right now i am calling it a night. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lenten Series #23: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, the students invited some local farmers toc ampus and had a small bizarre where you could purchase local foods. I ended up buying some fresh honey and a jar of apple butter. I am hoping to join their local food share program, especially during the summer because the dining hall is closed.  

The honey was awesome!!  Plus, he said that it never spoils. I thought when it crystallized the honey was no longer any good. He told me to run the bottle under warm/hot water and you are good to go (only recommended that with the organic, fresh honey). I laughingly said, “Ohh right this is the good stuff, not that store brought stuff!”, and he responded” Well it is not processed, but I really want to get it in the stores.”  

Just from that statement I was made me aware of my ignorance.  The farmers don’t want to only sell at bizarre or local farms gatherings, but in the marketplace. I thought he would have a chip on his shoulder about the markets or the larger processing plants or that he was doing this as a side job(which he is, but he wants more). What I heard was that he wants to be connected to a place where he could provide his goods to a larger pool of consumers.

Today for dinner I had leftovers!! Frozen leftovers that I thawed. I have quite a few meals bagged I the freezer.  I think I get this habit from one of my adopted grandmothers. We call her Dollbaby. Every time I come in town or stopped by their house, she could always whip up a meal from leftovers, and I always left satisfied.  “Let me see what I got down in the freezer” she would say. I honestly appreciate this habit because since i am cooking only for me now, I seem to always have plenty of leftovers (especially because I shoop economically) and instead of trying to eat it all or throwing it away (spoiled in the refrigerator), I bag them up, label with date, and put it in the freezer!  This has indeed helped me to save money and this habit will continue until I am as rich as Bill Gates ( by the way, he is no longer the riches person I the world!!)

Tomorrow, our black student group is having a soul-food potluck. I am scheduled to make macaroni and cheese. i think I am going to also try to make carrot soufflé. We shall see how it goes. I am happy for them that they are doing this and so I volunteered to help. I love cooking and more importantly when people enjoy my cooking. 

Moreover, The food on campus is bland and missing the soul. As I miss being in Baltimore and Atlanta, I also miss the sharing and fellowshipping that happened with friends and family as we cooked together and feasted together.  I will probably  cook in my apartment (because I have the capacity to and not to utilize all the smaller  space they have for cooking)  and then take the prepared items over to where the student are cooking,  and spend some time with them as they put the soul in the food!

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lenten Series #22: Great is Thy Faithfulness

One of my favorite hymns is "Great is Thy Faithfulness", a staple hymn in the Baptist church. I learned this song as a child (I pick it up from hearing my mom sing it as solos and with choirs). This song was one of the first I can recall singing as child at local churches in Baltimore for what used to be known as "Joy Nights". These were service held in many small churches that brought people out on like a Friday night  for something similar to a talent show (except no judges or prizes, but everyone got to leave with a bit of Joy!) .  They (one of my adopted aunts) say I took the hymnal up at the age of eight and sang like I knew what God's faithfulness was all about.
Now that I am older, I can fully appreciate this hymn for many reasons, but the one that stands out is that it is a reminder that God's faithfulness is not reliant on me! Sometimes I just got to lift my head up and say "Thank God for that!" because how often have I turned my back on God and every time, God remains there with open arms waiting and calling me to come back. Turning my back on God was not just because God and I were at odds. But sometimes it was simply because I did not take fully God's commandment on loving and caring for my sisters and brothers. 

I came across this prayer that I had written for a service at Candler (my seminary), that came from deep meditation of the hymn. I thought it would be appropriate to share:

O God, the Faithful One, how great are you and how we acknowledge your awesome presence.

You are merciful, O Faithful One.
 Every morning you provide us with new opportunities to get it right.  
Yet, we fail to provide the same to our sisters and brothers.

You are compassionate, O Faithful One,
Your love never fails, for you are the same, yesterday and today and forevermore.
 Yet, we have a hard time faithfully loving even those within our community

You are omnipresent, O Faithful One,
We see your handiwork throughout all of nature, and as Creator you remain within your creation. 
Yet, we miss the mark for standing for justice and seeking voice for those who are oppressed.
Therefore, we call upon you to be our strength for today, and give us bright hopes for tomorrow. Awaken the desire in us to look beyond ourselves, so we may see the need to be faithful to the whole of your creation.
We pray this prayer Giver of Peace, Pardoner of Sin, and Provider of all we ever needed. Amen.

My mom, the one and only Sherry Lynne Hunt, sang for many years with the Morgan State University Choir under the direction of the late Dr. Nathan Mitchell Carter. I was therefore a “child of the choir” and was at every rehearsal, and almost all concerts.  Dr. Carter had an arrangement of Great is Thy Faithfulness that moved me every time I heard it, even today.  I found this clip on youtube (soloist, the late countertenor Ernest Saunders) , and I sincerely hope it blesses you as it has blessed me! 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lenten Series #21: No Place I Rather Be

Today the song “Falling in Love with Jesus” came on the radio. It was perfect! It was what I needed to hear at that moment and because I was looking for another song to add to our weekly prayer and praise service, I could not resist. it also fit the scripture reading we used for the day. 

The scripture we choose  happened to be the story of Jesus calling Peter to him as he stood on the water. Peter became fearful and begun to sink. Jesus then reached out his hand and pulled Peter up. Many times when we hear this passage, we often head right for the fact that Peter had little faith. That’s what Jesus said right? “You of little faith” . But let us be honest with ourselves... How many times have we been Peter, having little faith, and needed Jesus' hand of love and mercy to reach down and pull us up from sinking?  How often did we say God I trust you and then find ourselves looking for alternatives or saying "never mind, not today."

The second verse of the song “Falling in Love with Jesus, which was written by Jonathan Butler (I believe), simply says… 

“In His arms I feel protected, In His arms never disconnected. 
In His arms I feel protected. There's no place I'd rather, rather be”

Even though Peter had little faith, I believe he knew as soon as Jesus reached out his hand that he was safe and protected. And aren’t we glad that that when Jesus reaches down for us, he is in fact connecting us to God, the Almighty. I tried to look for answers in many places. i even thought at some point that i had to stop being the "church boy" cuz they don't get the ladies, or at least i wasn't! i thought about giving up on my education because no reason my mom should be struggling as much as she is. 

And then i remembered... who has never left my side even when everyone else seemed to have deserted me! I remembered who opened the doors that nobody could shut, and closed those  doors that i had no business going into. I remembered that my mother and grandmother, my aunts and uncles, my adopted parents and grandparents, my church family, my friends, my ancestors, they all  prayed prayers that kept me in "God's ark of safety" and well.. the truth is... there is no place I'd rather be!!  I am grateful that God's arms are so wide that even BigMike has a place to go when my faith is not strong enough!

Now, at first the disciples did not know it was Jesus out on the water. Peter ask, “if it’s you Lord, command me to come to you on the water.” This struck me deeply because how often we ask God for something when we are not yet ready for God’s response and for God’s movement and/or God’s command for us to go. Peter wasn’t ready! And since we know the resurrection story, even as we are in this Lenten season, we know Peter was not ready until after Christ's resurrection. There was still some pruning happening. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that there are some things I have been praying for (ie. Fixing my financial problems, being in a relationship, etc.) but clearly I know I am not yet ready for some of this, and if I am going to learn anything from our friend, Peter, I now know I got to watch what I ask God for and when I ask for it! Because if and when my faith gets just a little bit stronger, and I ask with a deep sincerity of heart, God is going to move so mightily, and I know I got to be ready. I am getting tired of hearing Jesus say “O you of little faith.” Yet he continues to reach out his arm and pull me up. I am grateful for God's strong and powerful arms that extend so wide! 

Hear the Word of the Lord:

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ Matthews 14:22-32 (NRSV)

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lenten Series #20: Sunday School with the Seniors

Since I arrived to Grinnell part of my responsibility as the Religious Life Intern is to manage and maintain our Adopt-A-Grandparent Program.  We have a total of 18 students participating in one-on-one weekly communications with their adopted grandparents from the local senior homes or who live independently in Grinnell.  We also have another group who does monthly group activities at the senior facilities. I think it is a great program, and I have worked this year to find ways to keep the program going and increase our student participation as well as our information gathering about the program.  


Well, one of the centers, the one on the lower-income end, had to cut back even more on their programming. So they only have one full time activities coordinator, who is stretched thin. The center used to have someone come in each week to do Sunday School, but that person moved. So I offered to come in once a month to do Sunday school.  This past Sunday I went, but let me be honest, I did not want to go! It was along week at work. I just wanted to stay home. Plus, it’s a lot of work.  These are seniors who for the most part are in assisted living, thus I am the one singing, praying, speaking, and doing the whole service like a one-man-show. It takes a lot out of you for an half hour, especially if you are extraverted like me and you go full blast by greeting them and making sure they are comfortable and getting the books and even having to decide who will not need the books because of their physical limitations.


It is hard to get up and go, but once I get myself dressed, walk to the car, drive to the center, walk in the front door, and see their smiling faces I know that it is worth it! I know it is worth it because:


  1.  At times I hear them singing the songs they recognize from their days in the church. So it is something familiar to them and hopefully brings joy to their hearts. It is a reminder that the church has no walls, and they remain part of the Body of Christ. 


  2. I know that many of them can’t get dressed on their own; Are in wheelchairs, so can’t walk nor drive; And for some the pain may even makes it hard to smile often. Yet when I ask them how they are doing, they smile and simply say “I am doing just fine on the Sunday morning!” 


  3. This worship service provides an opportunity to share with those who may not have many visitors.  Nevertheless, I believe that during our time together, Jesus shows up and reminds each of them that he is indeed a friend. (I often like to sing with them “What a Friend we have in Jesus”)  


I often struggle with what words to say. I try to give a meditative thought each week, but many of them don’t even get out of the rooms let alone the building  and some are not even fully present when I am there. This pass Sunday three of them were sleep on the front row. HAHAHA Yes the Lord knows how to keep me humbled!


But every time I get there, I see their smiles, and as we sing, I can see my grandmother, not as one of them, but because she used to take us to the senior homes in Baltimore, and have a morning service with us singing and my grandfather preaching.  Plus, anytime we had services at my grandparents’ church, they would go pick up the seniors in their van and bring them to the church. 


Ohh the memories, and because of this challenging experience, there are  new and exciting memories to gain! 


Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 


Monday, March 8, 2010

Lenten Series #19: Random Thoughts I

I want to share a few random thoughts... 

I thought tonight, i would take it easy. I did not realize how much these blogs take out of me, though am halfway through. The days of lent do not normally count Sundays, however, i thought i would actually blog on Sundays because two weeks of Lent is our spring break and i don't know if i will have daily internet access.

I miss not having a group of friends to hang out with or spend time with. It at times is very lonely. Don't get me wrong, i am enjoying this journey, but i do miss being in Atlanta and even Baltimore. I am going to have to get my car fixed, better yet, i need to get a new/used car soon because i am tired of being stuck in this little town.

I love the facebook Game of Collapse. I find that I go on there not often, but enough to be sure that I am beating the scores of my FB friends who are also playing. It is crazy how competitive i am. It is all in fun, but i guess this part of me missing my community of peers.

The winter is a lil crazy right now. It was very foggy, and suppose to be some more rain, and maybe snow. but the temperature has been above 40. So for that I am grateful!

So one of my coworkers let me hold season one of "24" over winter break. and well, let me say, I am hooked!!!! I a have been catching up and am now on season4. It is my hope to be caught up to season 7 by the end of this semester. I am borrowing the dvds from another one of my coworkers who is actually leaving Grinnell at the end of the semester. So i got to be caught-up before then. The show is really intense and awesome. But i find that i am not a fan of "cliffhangers" so i always go to the next episode so that i know what happened next. I had to cutback on how much of it I watched, because i was having dreams as though i was a character or a bystander in the show. One time i remember being Jack Bauer's sidekick. how cool is that! well not cool if you are being constantly shot at while Jack continues living on with his 9 lives! Many of my coworkers have seen all season, but all i know, and I don't want them to tell me more, is that Jack Bauer continues to lives, so when you think he is dead, think again!

I am friends (actually just a fan) with the Dalai Lama on FB and he just posted something(you can tell that my concerns is not about what he posted which actually was noted the 51st anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day on March 10th), then the excited dwindled when i realized that it prob is not him. do you think the Dalai Lama actually keeps up with his fanpage? I wonder this about all the celebrities/high profile people. See I told you this blog post would be random!

I need to file my taxes. I started them online, but have yet to complete them. i need to hurry up before Uncle Sam comes after me. Maybe that money, prob wont be much, but i could use to help with down payment of a car. I should get on top of that.

Alright, i think this is enough rambling for today. i am going to bed!! GN

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lenten Series #18: I'm Coming Out - As an Ally!!

One of my mentors recently posted on her FBpage a quote that got me thinking...
""When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak."--Audre Lorde

So I shall speak, and I hope someone listens, but even if they don't, I can still say I am no longer afraid!

Growing up, I remember my mom warning to watch that person or that person (people she assumed to be gay). And not to walk a certain way or do certain things that would give the appearance of me being a ‘sissy’.  Being a single mom she wanted to instill in me those things society says a father would normally instill.  

See, I grew up in churches that constantly put down people who were homosexual to the point that the lesbian woman who loved the church so much would go to everything but not fully be herself in the midst of the church folks for fear of rejection.   Even in my family there is no one who is openly gay, they keep it to themselves or distance themselves because of the rejection and being hurt the most by the people you love.  I grew up in schools were students were facing major dilemmas about their sexuality and yet the community warned other students to be careful so that you won’t get "turned out". I grew up in a city, where certain parts were known for its “gayness” and if you were caught in the area many assumptions about your sexuality were made. I grew up in a school system where kids would beat up another kid who had “gay tendencies”. I grew up in a church where young people sought to find themselves, wishing that they would be accepted, but instead found hateful-looks, hurtful stares, and painful silence as they walked by.

And then finally, I GREW UP!!! 

It was not until I went to college, and heard wonderful presentation by Dr. Maura Cullen, a diversity consultant that I realized how screwed up I was. This session was during freshmen orientation at UMBC. Near the end, Maura said,  “I am lesbian, I waited until the end of my presentation to share that with you so that you would have an open mind. Now some of you ladies out there may be thinking, ‘ohh my goodness, I hope she doesn’t look at me that way’ so, let me be honest and clear with you, even we have standard!”. The whole auditorium erupted in laughter!! It was at the moment that I knew that I had a lot to learn, and on that day I begun the growing up process.  

Today, I can say, “My name is Michael Asbury Hunt, and I am a recovering Homophobic!”

This is something that I have to put into check daily. Something I inherited; was not born with it, but I know within the society in which I lived, the church, my family, there were never good conversations surrounding the issue. Even now I have family members who get upset when I correct them or ask them not to make certain comments. And let me honest, there are times when I have to catch myself about what I am saying or even what I am not saying, because some times silence can be just as hurtful.

During college, I had many friends who were gay, but I still believed that it was sinful and they needed to repent and pray about it.  My thoughts behind this have changed drastically and I thank God for that! Some of you may disagree with me and that is okay, but I DONOT believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do believe that homosexuality, just as heterosexuality, can lead us to sin (especially if we utilize my definition of sin from my previous blogs).  

It is hard to say this especially growing up in communities where this would never be talked about! And to believe that homosexuality is not a sin would be incomprehensible. So I type this blog knowing the consequences that will come. Some of you won’t invite me to your churches and some will begin to bad mouth me and spread rumors. But I pray that some would read my last three blogs and read this one with an open mind and an open heart, and I pray that we begin to see how we as the church, we as a community, especially within the black church, can begin to heal and mend broken relationships between the church and the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex) community, who, if the truth be told are members of the church as well.

What changed your mind? When did this happen?  A few things so, bear with me…

  1. I closely examined why I believed what I believed and after hearing from God through many ways, I knew my opinion had to change. You can read my last three blogs for more details.

  1. I closely examined the life of Jesus.  I found that in no writing do we find Jesus explicitly dealing with homosexuality, although he quite often dealt with the sins associate with heterosexuality.  And Yes I am a follower of Jesus! And for the record, the Jesus that I love, adore, worship, admire, etc, did not go around preaching hate, nor saying stuff like “love the sinner, hate the sin”  which is clearly used to continue oppressing those who don’t view sin the same way as the one saying it does.

  1. I have many friends who have been in same gender loving relationships for many of years and they are faithful committed! More so then some friends/family members/church members who are married and creeping, or single and sleeping! (Good God Almighty!)

  1. I have witnessed my own friends/students/family members/church friends being disowned by parents/family/church/community for loving someone of the same gender.

  1. I used to think that each gay person must have experienced some kind of childhood drama. Whether one believes this or not, the statistics show that the perpetrators of such trauma consider themselves to be heterosexual, and many are sitting in the pews and the puilpits Sunday after Sunday.

  1. The public persecution of gay people by religious institution is down right wrong and hurtful and the God I serve is loving and just and these so-called Christian religious folks are not examples of that.

  1. When some of my childhood friends were experimenting with their sexuality, I was frustrated because clearly from my upbringing being gay was a sin. But years later, I realized that I was more frustrated because the church saw our young people struggling with understanding their own sexuality, and we said and did NOTHING. We turned our backs on them. We hurt them with words and with our ignorant comments. We left them to find out on their own, in a cruel unjust world. The church failed them and that is what saddens me.

I am not gay and have no desires to be, but the sad thing is that I had to give a disclaimer.  It is true that people read and hear what they want. So again, let me make this clear… This has nothing to do with my own sexuality except that I stand now in unity with my brothers and sisters, all those who have been marginalized, hurt, disrespected, and degraded because of their sexual orientation. When I came out in grad school as an ally during one of my classes, rumors begun flying and there were some who were not listening, who only the words, “I’m coming out” and spread the rumor that I was gay.  They did not even have the decency to come to me directly. I heard it from some who were not even in the class!  I have been for some time wanting to express my views, but when you are job searching and you are a Baptist preacher, you can easily be blackballed if you come out supporting those who are same gender loving. 

But I take the risk because I heard the voice of Jesus say “If you will come after me, deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follow me.” So today, I come out, carrying the cross, as an ally, and I pray that you do likewise.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,