The Word

Note: In homage to Jarena Lee(1) and all my sisters, whate’er their race, who preach the Word of God with consummate compassion and conviction…

Jarena Lee (1783-1864)

The word she first found there
(which alway first had sought her)
in that ancient, sacred text
o’er which she, her soul had poured out,
hours at a time, in prayer.


That word, she, for righteousness hungering
and thirsting,
finding faithful rest
in the fertile recesses of her deepest imagining;
nurtured by Spirit-breathing, watering,
birthing a message come Sunday to share
with her heart of servant’s care
with those God had graced her to bear
in love.


(1) Jarena Lee (1783-1864), the first woman authorized to preach by Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the first African American woman to publish her autobiography in the United States, Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee, Giving an Account of Her Call to Preach the Gospel. Though throughout her ministry, facing hostility because of her race and gender, Jarena Lee, following in the footsteps of her Lord, as an itinerant preacher, traveled miles upon miles sharing God’s word with a chief focus on personal holiness and sanctification.
(2) A reference to Matthew 5.6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

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