This thought-provoking poem by award-winning artist Crystal Tennille Irby challenges readers to consider what the "greater work" is in response to John 14:12.
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12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with a friend, Shemuel, who is a talented art curator. We were discussing Romans 8:17, “and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified.” We talked about what it meant to be an heir of God and joint heirs with Christ, how much power that bestowed upon us and within us. We questioned why we don’t tap into that power, which led us to John 14:12. Shem said to me, “Jesus didn’t want us chasing His ghost. He wanted greater works from us.” That was life changing for me and since that day, whenever I feel out of alignment, I say to myself “what is the greater work?” It reminds me that if my inheritance from Jesus is that I will do greater work than Him, if He called me to do greater work, then I am powerful, which means I have the capacity to co-create my experience. Then the question becomes, what is “the greater work”. I believe “the greater work” is US, divinity in the flesh. We are a source of power, a source of and for great work. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for source or power. Our work is to consistently align with that divinity, witness miracles unfold, witness what we can manifest in partnership with God.
Crystal Tennille Irby is a spoken word poetry grand slam champion, published writer, director and identifies as a #BlackMamaCreative, an artist creating work across multiple artistic disciplines centering Black mothering, absent of the white gaze. She is a doula and the current co-host and executive producer of Dem Black Mamas Podcast, a podcast that delves into the unique experience of 3 Black Mama Creatives raising free children while catching their creative dreams. Crystal is a TEDxGreenville presenter, a Watering Hole Poetry Fellow and the founder and Director of Writers Well Youth Fellowship, a program for Black girls ages 14-19 focused on writing and performance. Her recent credits include, Untitled Reconstruction Project, which she directed and co-produced and Untamed Womb: Reclaiming Wonder Through Healing, Liberation & Creativity, a Project Row Houses installation which she co-curated. She was also a contributing writer for For Harriet. In addition to her creative endeavors, Crystal has presented at numerous conferences including Black Maternal Health Conference & Training Institute; Let’s Talk About Sex, & HIV Prevention & Education Summit. Crystal has over 15 years of experience working to dismantle systemic and institutional racism. She works as a community doula helping Black birth persons stay connected to their body and as a facilitator for Speaking Down Barriers pushing communities forward by helping Black people heal from race and gender trauma. She also served on the board of Hub City Writers Project, a place based non-profit press committed to publishing southern writers.
Crystal is the mother of 4 children and shares her life with an Omega man.