We Are Family

News of the plane crash in Ethiopia reached El Salvador quickly.  Within 24 hours of the crash, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church organized a memorial service to honor the lives of those who perished and to pray for their families.  The memorial was particularly dedicated to Pastor Norma Tendis, a husband, father, and Lutheran pastor who served the Lutheran Church of St. Ruprecht and Einode in Austria and worked as a consultant to to the Economy of Life program of the World Council of Churches.  Pastor Tendis was en route to Nairobi for the United Nations Assembly on the Environment when he and 156 others were killed in the crash.  The memorial service in El Salvador was attended by more than 50 people, including Salvadoran leaders with ACT (Action by Churches Together),  the Lutheran World Federation, local faith leaders in the Salvadoran ecumenical family and visiting members of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).


The Salvadoran Lutheran Church is dedicated to advocacy and action in favor of protecting the environment, locally and globally.  Church members, especially those who work in the area of care for creation, were especially saddened by the loss of so many fellow advocates.  In singing, praying, honoring and remembering, this little Lutheran denomination in a little country dropped everything and stood in solidarity with grieving families across the globe.  The Salvadoran Lutheran Church, which is itself accompanied by many Lutheran Churches (especially from the United States), has a lot to teach the global church about accompanying one another in difficult times.


In the wake of tragedies, in times of disaster, in joyful celebrations and in times of positive change, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church stands in solidarity with the global Lutheran family.  At national and local levels, the church does a respectable job of educating its members about global issues and encouraging local actions of solidarity and activism.  This week, in recognition of the World Day of Water, the church marched alongside people of varied faith traditions and environmental organizations, pleading with authorities to protect El Salvador's water systems from being privatized.  The World Water Day march was just one of several marches within the past week, seeking responsible environmental legislation by the Salvadoran government.

Whether fighting to protect families' rights to clean, potable water or acting to defend the human rights of women in a misogynist society, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church works to build a just community.

Tomorrow, our local Salvadoran Lutheran Church will celebrate its 23rd anniversary as a congregation and as a community.  The celebration will be intertwined with the celebration of Women's Month (the whole month of March), the World Day of Prayer, and International Women's Day.  The whole day is being planned by women from the community.

Earlier this month we had a glimpse of what will take place tomorrow.  Women pastors and lay-leaders from the north and central regions of the El Salvador gathered at the Bishop's church in San Salvador to celebrate, using resources developed by the World Day of Prayer International Committee - an ecumenical group of Christian women dedicated to prayer and action with the goal of increasing peace and justice in the world. This year is dedicated to the nation of Slovenia.  Worship leaders were encouraged to learn and share a bit of the history, artwork, stories and testimonies of faith from Slovenian women. 



The Bishop's church was adorned with Salvadoran flags and Slovenian flags.  Women in attendance received purple ribbons and flowers.  During worship, Salvadoran women read the testimonies of four Slovenian women, and then one Salvadoran woman shared her own moving testimony.  Finding common threads of life experience, God's patience and perseverance, and God's amazing grace among Slovenian and Salvadoran women help to build relationships across the globe, and help women who are going through difficult times to know they are not alone.


When the little ones were all invited up to the front to sing, they were cheered on by all of the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers in the congregation.  No one is too old to have fun singing "El Amor de Dios es Maravilloso":  The love of God is wonderful.  The love of God is so big.  Nothing is above, below or outside of God's love.


The biblical text for the day was Luke 14:15-24 which is the parable of The Great Banquet.  This year's theme, "Come, everything is ready," is a call both to come and to invite.  The artwork for this year's event was created by Slovenian artist Rezka Arnus and features images of Slovenian women, a banquet set with traditional food and grapes, and marginalized children who received the invitation and have come to the banquet.  There is enough food and enough love for all.

I walk through my life as a Lutheran.  Sometimes when we are in our comfortable Lutheran Churches, we settle into schedules, routines, traditions, and we forget that we are part of a global Lutheran family.  We can forget that we are linked together in God's big story and that we grow in knowledge, faith, hope and love when we are connected to one another.  When we walk together, when we stand in solidarity with each other, when we need one another, and when we help each other, we are sharing God's big family banquet together.  We are family.  We are family.

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