Last year, my friend, Manuel Borbon, wrote a pamphlet on Our Lady of Guadalupe, and was instrumental in producing an Our Lady of Guadalupe service in Silverton, Oregon. I went. The mark of good worship to me, is – How long do you think about it after the worship is over? Well, I’ve thought about that worship, and that information all year.
Because Our Lady of Guadalupe has a lot to teach me. And I’m still learning. The story takes place in Mexico, in 1531. A peasant man, Juan Diego, encounters a vision of the mother of God. And things change.
For me, that is what is important about the story for me, and for us all. God changes things. Encounters with the holy changes things. I admit that an apparition from God has never entered my life. But I am quite familiar with encounters with the holy. There is holiness in the prayers at the hospital bedside I have been part of over my career. There is holiness in the bible study where God’s love is laid bare in our discussion. There is holiness in the moment I stood in Germany looking at blatently racist anti Jewish sculptures, as I realized the depth of our culpability as Christians of German descent, in the persecution of the Jews.
So, how does this connect to Our Lady of Guadalupe? Juan Diego was a peasant. A mestizo – a person whose ancestry is linked to Native American bloodlines, as well as Spanish ones. In Mexico, like many countries, the Native Americans were looked down on, as not as noble, not as special as the Spanish conquerors. Juan Diego, by being a witness to God’s love through His Mother’s appearance, brings honor, brings nobility to his ethnic group. In fact, Our Lady becomes a visible representative of nobility for Native peoples for centuries. Cesar Chavez uses the image of Our Lady as a banner for his United Farm Workers in the 20th century, because Her appearance empowers the powerless.
As my friend Manuel told me about the image of Our Lady last year, and I envisioned her brown skin (as a native would have) and her pregnant belly (with the Savior) I was drawn to the gift Our Lady gives to us all. An encounter with the holy. A reminder of our own status as ‘less than’ somebody. We can all connect with Our Lady this year and inform our own worth, our own worship life.
If you want to know more about Our lady, consider joining us for worship at 9:30 am on Sunday, Dec 9 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. We will also hear the story of St. Lucia, who has deep connections to Scandinanvian Christians, on Sunday Dec 16 at 9:30 am. And, we will connect at a Round Table where we discuss our Faith Intersections on Thursday December 13 at 6 pm at Holy Cross, 1998 Lansing Ave NE, Salem, Oregon 97301. This Advent, won’t you think about the encounters with the holy that are less familiar to you, and see if that can bring new insights, and new joy to your own faith life? Blessings, Pastor Patricia