And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now everything is new! All of this is from God, who reconciled us through Christ – and made us ministers of that reconciliation. This means that through Christ, the world was fully reconciled again to God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19a
Written by Anton Flores-Maisonet
Before joining an immigrant church, I had often heard “those people” referred to in dehumanizing ways. However, the moment I stepped inside this sanctuary filled with worshipers singing in Spanish. Some congregants were clapping on the upbeat, some on the downbeat, and still others to their own beat; I felt the rhythm of God’s reconciling Spirit synching with my heart.
Inside this church, the old descriptors of fear and hatred were replaced with a new language of family and inclusion. To the worshipers here, I was “Hermano” Anton, their “Brother,” and they were my siblings.
As trust and rapport were established, I learned of the crises of my spiritual kinfolk and how immigration policies and often unscrupulous employers often worsened their plight.
The first time I realized how far apart we were from anything resembling equity, inclusion, or reconciliation was on a Sunday after Memorial Day.
I read in my town’s local newspaper about the drowning of a Guatemalan man in our area lake.
Earlier that week, I read in my town’s local newspaper about the drowning of a Guatemalan man in our area lake. Since no details were offered in the paper, I assumed that Walter Xicay’s death was another unfortunate holiday drowning of a recreational swimmer. However, when I entered the sanctuary that next Sunday, grieving congregants revealed something even more horrific.
Walter’s death was work-related. He worked for the elite country club and was instructed in English to paddle a kayak into the lake and clear out a clog in the golf course’s irrigation system. Everyone knew Walter had very limited English. How could he comprehend the instructions, much less voice concern? Those who knew Walter said he did not know how to swim and that safety measures weren’t followed by the supervisor. Somehow the media story was filled with critical omissions; the truth was almost buried alongside Walter.
But I heard the truth inside this church of marginalized children of God. That truth wouldn’t set me free until others knew it as well.
I immediately reported the work-related death to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). An investigation was launched. I demanded the newspaper print a follow-up story; they did. I even served as interpreter for a group grief counseling session for the traumatized colleagues of Walter that also worked on the landscaping crew at the country club.
A new order is coming where everything is new and living in a right relationship with one another and creation.
A new order is coming where everything is new and living in a right relationship with one another and creation. God invites us to be conspiring ministers of a divine reconciliation. Just know, it requires love-infused truth-telling.
1) In order for justice to flow in your watershed, what do you need to have God open? Your eyes? Your ears? Your heart? Your mouth?
2) What’s the next most faithful step you can take towards that direction?
Open our eyes, God, for we are blinded by power, status, and wealth.
Open our ears to hear the cry of the poor.
Open our hearts to a life of compassionate solidarity.
Open our mouths to speak the truth that leads to reconciliation.
Let justice flow like a river and let the oppressed be set free.
Adapted from Liturgies from Below by Cláudio Carvalhaes
Originally written for a Georgia Interfaith Power and Light Lenten series.