By Maeva Renaud @maevatheartist
September 29, 2019, was an eventful day for me. I celebrated the Jewish New Year, my mother’s birthday & wedding anniversary, the anniversary of my baptism, and the 5th anniversary of Oak Life Church in Oakland, California. I discovered Oak Life in the summer of 2017. I had just quit my job and was entering a season of rest. Resting my body, rest in my mind, and rest in my spirit. In that pursuit, I’m happy to say that I have found a community that allows me to do all three. I’ve been tired for a long time. Tired of beating against the grain. Tired of racism, classism, elitism, sexism, colorism, and all the other isms that close the doors for progress.
The 29th has always been a day for me to think about my mother, Marie Ginette Michel Renaud (for those of you who don’t know my mother passed away when I was four years old). She was a nurse who appreciated the arts and cared deeply about others-so I’ve heard. Often times, I think that’s where I get my compassion for others from as well as my artistic side. My dad says I get the activism from him. Regardless of what was passed down from my parental unit, I also enjoy reflecting on what it means to be a follower of Yeshua Messiah ( Jesus Christ). On September 29, 2003, I decided to live a new life, a life to love God and love God‘s people. I never imagined that the biggest decision I could ever make would also be the biggest challenge of my life. To love is a discipline; a discipline that requires practice- daily practice.
These past two years have been a lesson of love for me. I left teaching in the classroom to impact the lives of my students and their families through systems change doing advocacy work. I’ve observed how we all love differently, however, I wish that we’d all love selflessly. We live in a society that loves conditionally! Everyone does it! I do it too, that is why I am still on this journey. Thankfully, I’m not on this journey alone, I'm thankful for Oak Life Church. I hope and dream that more communities would begin to reflect and deepen the dialogue on what love is, especially God‘s love for us all as humanity.
In my work as an educator, artist, and advocate I hope to see people as God sees them. In everything that I do with kids who have diverse learning needs, parents who need access to extra support, and marginalized individuals striving to make a better life for themselves, are all acts of love. Too often are we quick to judge, demean, cast off, ridicule, distance, and segregate ourselves from “others”. But that is not the Kingdom of God. When I think of the Kingdom of God, I think of God in us and operating through us. When I think of God, I think of love. I think of all that Yeshua Messiah has done, and taught us, on how to live our lives. I will get into this topic in a future post. What I want to stress is that, if the kingdom of God is within us, then the Kingdom of God is diverse and rooted in love. We need a love revolution in our homes, communities, and nations. Most of all, we need a love revolution within ourselves. When was the last time you saw yourself as God sees you? When was the last time you did something for someone without expecting anything in return? When was the last time that you gave thanks to the God of the universe?
My prayer for this season is for all of us to recognize the light that we have within us and share that light with others. That light is the love of God. How will you demonstrate love in this season of your life?