Showing posts from November, 2019

Sure, Why Not: Graduation in the Valley of the Angel

It's pretty typical.  I'm checking Facebook in the evening and a message pops up.   "Want to go to a graduation with me tomorrow afternoon in Valle de Angel ?" Sure, why not? I don't know any students there.  I imagine Pastor Santiago also does not know any students there.  I imagine this is an act of solidarity related to the work he and local advocates are doing to fight against a massive development project in the valley and protect the aquifer which provides water to more than a million people. I show up at the church offices early in the morning, as usual.  A co-worker is standing in the parking lot holding a toilet seat and shelving unit.  Another co-worker walks up carrying a toilet.  Just another day at the office. We head upstairs and get to work.  Pastor Santiago stops by and we chat about some things and decide to get lunch on the way to the graduation.  It's a miracle that his car, La Negra, is still running.  Everything on it

Remembering the Subversive Cross

There is a cross in El Salvador which is called subversive.  It was seized by military forces who sought to kill the Lutheran Bishop.  Their plans failed and either in frustration or retaliation, they seized members of the church, visiting foreigners, and the cross as evidence of subversion.  This took place on November 16, 1989, the same day on which the Jesuit priests were killed at the UCA (University of Central America) in the early morning and by the same forces who sought to kill later in the day. The Subversive Cross - 30 years of testimony Today, November 17, 2019, the worship service at Resurrection Lutheran Cathedral in San Salvador remembered the journey and witness of the Subversive Cross. Pastor Brian shared his testimony in the form of a dramatization of when he, his companions in the church and the cross were seized.  As Pastor Brian knelt bound and blindfolded on the floor, the congregation was uneasy.  Some were remembering that day or their own similar experien

The Old Wooden Cross

"Do you remember the first cross we had, the old wooden one?"  Pastor Santiago gestured toward the front of the church.  I glanced across the room toward my friend, Julia.  Yes.  We remembered. "It was painted, a little faded, a little dark." The pastor paused, "Does anyone know where it is now?" The congregation members looked at each other, shaking their heads, shrugging their shoulders.  Someone said they thought the cross was still in the community.  Pastor Santiago looked skeptical. This is the month of memories.  The saints. The faithful departed. The final offensive.  The Jesuit martyrs.  The Lutheran martyrs.  The Subversive Cross.  In the context of November, Pastor Santiago was remembering an old wooden cross.  It had a story - a story which connects a congregation and a community to its origin as a group of homeless refugees. During the civil war in El Salvador, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church opened its heart and its arms to care for r

The Day of the Faithful Departed

"Are you tired?  I'm sure you are; there are so many people!  It is full, very full because of the date today,"  the cab driver said, smiling over his shoulder as we wove our way through the crowd.  I had not thought about crowds at the airport.  It was true, big family groups were lined up to welcome their people home.  We had been the only extranjeros in the migration line. In El Salvador, November 2nd is El Día de los Difuntos Fieles , known in the US as All Souls Day or the Day of the Faithful Departed.  In El Salvador, All Souls Day is an official holiday.  Traditionally, families gather to remember their dear departed ones, often gathering in the cemeteries or places where the loved ones are remembered. In the Salvadoran village of Tonacatepeque, elaborate customs surrounding All Souls Day are preserved by the Cultural House and town leaders, and are passed on from one generation to another.   The traditions and beliefs are as mixed as th