Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Master P was in St. Louis for a performance last weekend, and to promote the show, he gave an interview ahead of time. He was asked what he’s most proud of, after thirty years of creating hip-hop music and television shows and other media, alongside many collaborators and fellow artists and No Limit Soldiers. Master P said he’s most proud of “creating so many millionaires. …You’re not a boss until you create other bosses.”
Now I will confess I’m not super familiar with Master P’s body of work, and I don’t know him personally, but judging by his social media accounts, he seems to be a Christian. I may not be a student of hip-hop music but I am a student of wisdom—and a good student of wisdom is always paying close attention because sometimes God will hide wisdom in the most unlikely places. And the words of Master P sounded to me like something Jesus is saying to his disciples: you’re not a boss until you create other bosses.
Following Jesus was probably never just fun and games for his disciples. They probably knew they were signing up for world-changing healing work. They probably thought they’d be answering to Jesus forever, sitting at his feet, the way good students respect their rabbi. I wonder when they realized that Jesus didn’t expect them to simply stand behind him while he took the lead. Jesus expected them to discern the Holy Spirit for themselves, to do even greater works than he himself did. Jesus fully intended to create other bosses.
It sounds a little chaotic, to say the least. Who’s in charge? Who takes the fall when things go wrong? Who gets the credit when things go right? An unseen Holy Spirit? A Holy Spirit who is supposed to remind the disciples of everything Jesus said? A Holy Spirit who is supposed to deliver Jesus’s promise of peace?
How are we supposed to keep going when we’re not sure where we’re going? How are we supposed to trust God when everything around us is such a mess? How are we supposed to tell the story of God’s love when that story is soundly rejected, and it already sounded weird in the first place?
We’re out here wearing orange shirts to raise awareness about gun violence, but what can we actually do about it? Jesus came to bring peace but we’re not yet living in the fullness of the reign of God, and how are we gonna get there? Can you tell me how to get, how to get to the reign of God? How are we supposed to address gun violence and racism and white supremacy and climate change and economic inequality and the erosion of voting rights and transphobia and and and we could go on all day.
The answer is not to go sit in your room by yourself to figure this out. The answer is not to delegate this work to a committee and wait for their direction. The answer is definitely not to quit.
The answer is to persist in community with others. You’re not a boss until you create other bosses. Yes, it’s gonna be messy, but if you want to be on board with the work of the Holy Spirit, you’re only gonna find that in community with others. Think about it: Jesus didn’t work alone—he started a small group. He was a boss who created other bosses. And they worked together. And the Holy Spirit made it work.
And this is exactly what’s so wild about the Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit can take a bunch of disparate human beings, even people speaking totally different languages and from different cultures, and bring them together to understand each other. Where else does that happen?
I mean, when you hear a bunch of talking, when you can overhear multiple languages being spoken, are you thinking to yourself, Ah, this is music to my ears! Are you thinking, this makes so much sense! Or are you thinking, this is distracting! Make it stop! I can’t even hear myself think anymore!
I have learned that our usual Pentecost practice of reading in multiple languages can be upsetting to people with autism. Multiple language readings are too chaotic for a brain that craves order and thrives on structure. So for people with autism and any other brain wiring that makes this chaos sound incredibly distracting, please accept my apologies. We’re really not going to do this all the time, I promise.
But it’s important that worship reflect something of the truth we confess about God—God as the rock who never moves nor changes, as well as God the life-giving movement of the Holy Spirit, the movement of which is sometimes chaotic and unsettling. Both these things are true, and liturgy can express both. If there are occasionally moments of great chaos, there are also moments of great order.
We’ll sing old favorite hymns and we’ll learn new songs. We’ll speak and sing using mostly the English language and we’ll practice listening and speaking in other languages. We’ll honor the contributions of longtime members and church leaders and we’ll keep welcoming new members and baptizing babies.
Whatever we do, we do together because we are church together. For example, the choir doesn’t walk in and sing whatever they want—and even if they do sing whatever they want, they get that out of their systems during rehearsal. They meet together ahead of time, to practice getting on the same page. Choirs even breathe together. Breathe together—you know there’s a word for that, right? Conspiracy. It’s a holy conspiracy.
Friends, we are part of this holy conspiracy—the Holy Spirit has called us by name, has anointed us in baptism, has reminded us of the things Jesus promised. Here are some of those important things Jesus said:
“The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”
“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
So, uh, do we believe this? Do we believe that God has the power to do this? Do we believe Jesus really will do what he says he’ll do? Or do we really believe we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to act on behalf of Jesus Christ, who is and who was and who is to come?
We’re not alone in figuring this out. Yes, the world is complicated and there is plenty of pain going on, but friends: there is a lot of healing going on, too. We’re not alone. We spent enough time in isolation over the past two years of pandemic, and we learned that even if we need to be occasionally physically distanced, we are connected by the Holy Spirit.
We belong to a church that seeks to learn and speak up about the pain of the world, even difficult topics like racism or education or abortion. A few weeks ago, several of us gathered to read the ELCA’s Social Statement about abortion, approved by the Churchwide Assembly in 1991. One gathering wasn’t enough—another group started meeting too. Small groups, learning and praying and breathing together—this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Last week Pastor Tina Reyes was here to preach, and she spoke against gun violence, just as she did at a press conference hosted by our friends in the United Methodist Church and attended by over 30 clergypeople of the St. Louis area. She spoke up in support of a bipartisan bill that has stalled out in the United States Senate—H.R. 8 Bipartisan Background Check Act, which helps to close the background check loopholes in gun laws.
And she didn’t just talk about it—y’all, she printed postcards and set up a table with information about sending these to our elected representatives. Some of you wrote postcards last week, though if you didn’t get the chance, more are available in the narthex. As faithful Christians, we advocate for those things which will bring abundant life. We pray to God for a reign of peace and for the day when guns are no longer needed. That’s what wearing orange is about—I’m not alone up here, wearing orange. (Okay everyone—scootch together. *Take a pulpit selfie with the congregation in the background.)
And we pray by acting as concerned citizens of a country where we are not powerless but where we have the responsibility to hold our elected representatives accountable. Jesus couldn’t write to his senator, but you can. What Jesus said was: “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”
Those sound to me like the words of a real boss who is out to create other bosses. Christ has set us free so that the spirit of liberation can keep setting others free as well. The Holy Spirit still moves and will do this.