After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year, Presbyterian pastor Manuel D. Silva bore the dual burden of caring for his family and his congregation.
During Advent, I often meditate on the holy family. There’s Joseph, the adoptive father whose acceptance of Mary and Jesus is later mirrored in the adoption of the Gentiles into God’s original chosen family. I give thanks for Joseph’s love, grace and obedience when it came to putting together an unconventional family.
The church lectern has been pushed aside and the chancel chairs rearranged — just that morning the good news was proclaimed from that space. Now, in a few minutes, another story will be told. As the last of the stragglers enter the sanctuary, quickly and quietly taking their seats, a man dressed in a Victorian frock coat and top hat walks onto the makeshift stage. After a brief dramatic pause, he begins with the opening words of all good stories — “once upon a time.”
In Rwanda, “this present age” means living in a post-genocide world, where everything is colored by the brutality and betrayal of neighbor killing neighbor with machetes and clubs in the horror of 100 days in 1994. To say “no” to the worldly passions that surround these memories is no easy task. The fear of “the other” and the desire for retaliation, even after all these years, is strong.
A delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) just returned from a visit to the U.S./Mexico border in McAllen, Texas. While many from the group spend most of their work days on immigration issues, they were still surprised and saddened by what they saw and heard.
“We heard so many heart-wrenching stories: from the conditions that led to the decision to leave their homes, to the dangers of the journey and the waiting period to plead their cases. Some with small children beside them,” said Ruling Elder Cintron-Olivieri, co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly. “We've seen the pain and longing in the eyes of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, looking for a better life, a safe place where they can work and provide for their families and live in peace.”
Anthropologists believe you can tell what is important to a community based on how many names they have for the same thing. The Inuit people who live in northern Canada have 50 words to describe snow. Each word describes a slightly different classification of snow, like “aqilokoq” for softly falling snow and “piegnartoq” for snow that’s good for sledding.
This time of year is all about Christ's Incarnation — Emmanuel, God with us. The child that Mary delivers comes to deliver us. Elizabeth's baby leaps for joy at Mary's presence because Christ is within her.
I was in a cab headed to the high-speed rail station, on my way to preach at a Taiwanese wedding. While the groom is a Christian, he had told me that his parents were not. The vocabulary we use in Taiwan, when preaching to Christians, can often be language that non-Christians don’t understand. As soon I got into the cab, I saw that the cab driver, Mr. Jwang, had a small statue of Buddha on his dashboard. So, I thought to myself, it might be good if Mr. Jwang could listen to my sermon and tell me which parts he did not understand. That way I would be sure that the groom’s family was able to understand.
The Board of Directors for More Light Presbyterians, a group working toward the full participation of LGBTQIA+ people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has voted to make the organization's full-time staff positions eligible for ordination as validated ministries.
As part of the recent PC(USA) Wall of Welcome delegation to McAllen, Texas, the Rev. Dr. Gregory Cuéllar accompanied a student delegation from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. At this time of Advent, Dr. Cuéllar shares his reflection on migration and the Bible.