We are more alike – and why we need to remember that

Let us begin with a little Maya Angelou

Human Family

By Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Continue reading “We are more alike – and why we need to remember that”

Our Lady of Guadalupe for everyone

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

“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

more in common

Between now and Christmas Day, you’re going to hear me say this a lot – We have more in common than divides us. It’s what I want for Christmas, my friends, a discussion, a movement, a state of being that acknowledges how much more we have in common than that which divides us. I’m a pastor, and for me, this is an issue of worship and culture. Every culture has worship practices and choices that give us warm fuzzies. I know you have stories. I have stories, too. Stories about Christmas in New Orleans, with lots of gumbo, and Christmas in Korea, where we bought a Christmas tree from JC Penney and had it shipped to us and it still was cheaper than a fir tree would have been in Seoul.

But, the issue is deeper than these stories. We are feeble creatures, some times, and use the differences between people to create barriers – to build walls – that leave us in a supposedly safe place where we are never challenged, and our own warm fuzzies rule the day.

But we are all different. My Christmas memories are different from yours. Can we start here, talking about leaning into each other’s traditions and cultural moments as a movement that could change the world. Yes, I mean change the world.

The picture on this blog and the quote is from Jo Cox. Jo Cox was killed on June 16, 2016. She was a member of parliament in Great Britain. I admit to you I know next to nothing about British politics. What I know is that Jo Cox was an MP trying to build bridges. Her most famous quote is the one referenced above, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

To my ears, and maybe to yours, that’s a very different statement than what I hear from many corners today. The strident voices which divide our country, our families, our churches in to two sides have never heard about Jo Cox, and her words of unity. I would like to change that.

Jo Cox was just a woman. Just a mother. Just a wife. Just a member of parliament trying to do good. And she was killed – stabbed – by a man who was convinced that her liberal point of view were going to destroy the world. This man was mentally ill, not just an opinionated person who disagreed with Jo. But he stabbed and killed her, and silenced her voice. But did he?

I would like you (and me) to find our voice instead. To find Jo’s voice. A voice that speaks truth that will not let us retreat into our secular or religious corners of the world, where the “way it was when we grew up” is not assumed to be the only way, or even the best way.

When I lived in San Antonio, several years ago, I discovered Tamales. For christmas Eve. It changed my life. Tamales, fresh from the local vendor who made them himself, along with some great chili con queso, sour cream and hot sauce, makes Christmas Eve so special! Every Christmas eve since I left San Antonio has been missing something if I can’t find great tamales. A tradition I discovered when I was past 40 is now overlaid over the German Lutheran traditions from middle America that make up my childhood memories. It is a good thing.

So, I invite you to begin with your Christmas traditions. Add some new things -even if they make you uncomfortable. Because learning something new from another tradition is the fountain of youth. It keeps us young, it keeps us alive. Who knows what we will change next? Today Christmas, tomorrow the world.

Be like Jo Cox. Speak for what we have in common – Humanity, caring, family, love. Because “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” – Pastor Patricia

See you at church, at Holy Cross Lutheran 1998 Lansing Ave NE., Salem, OR 97301. www.holycrosslutheran-salem.org 503 364 6041

Faith Intersections at Holy Cross

faith intersections brochure spanish pdf

faith intersections brochure final pdf

Our Advent is going to be full at Holy Cross. We will explore Faith Intersections together.

During Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) in 2018, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, in Salem, Oregon, invites you to observe the Intersections of Faith with them. Culture, Tradition, Faith, and Food are all part of the celebrations that lead up to Christmas Eve, and the coming of the Christ child to save the world. Love, service and community are themes that resonate throughout Christian holiday events. We worship Sundays at 9:30am in the sanctuary at Holy Cross, 1998 Lansing Ave NE., Salem, OR 97301. Continue reading “Faith Intersections at Holy Cross”