Sunday, June 10, 2007

David in Nicaragua #4: theoillogical

Three things about the Purple Church and its pastor, accompanied by photos that are not of either of these things: I really admire Rachael’s host dad. I knew the first day I met him that he was a great guy, and he continued to impress me with his warmth and gentle faith. We also get similarly excited about worship; we shared some giddiness as we discussed how best to celebrate Pentecost. (He doesn’t usually celebrate Pentecost in his church, but decided it would be cool since we do it in my tradition.) He also let me preach in his church.

So, I feel like the theology that I most often heard preached in this particular church is pretty simple. The words of comfort are powerful in their neatness: God will get you through the hard times, when you are sad, buck up and have faith.
This is very different from my faith life, at least lately. It’s not about that kind of certainty for me, though it is clearly sustaining and life-giving for many of those folks. I was talking to Rachael about it, as she talked about the difficulty of doing such difficult work and having so few resources to fall back on. I talked about sitting in front of the White House waiting to be arrested, and I talked about praying through the Good Friday Walk for Justice in downtown Chicago. Both times I was really cold, and in both of those, I felt something in the depths of that cold emptiness and mourning. People who study mystics talk about kataphatics and apophatics; mystics that seek a fullness in union with God, an overflowing overwhelming totality of God, and mystics who seek to empty themselves utterly, and meet God their in that bareness. This second part is the kind of faith I have lately been running with. The God who lives uniquely in the coldness of shivering despair and a pleading world. It seems like a much more difficult God. It doesn’t feel simple at all; usually it feels stupid. But that’s what I’ve got now.

Also, I preached. At this lovely purple church. Rachael translated for me. It was Pentecost, and a preached a liberationist, post-colonial Pentecost sermon. I talked about cicadas. I talked about the threat of people being able to understand each other, in their native languages. I talked about the dangerousness of it all. I felt a little ridiculous- me, a white guy from the US, coming to Latin America to preach liberation theology? That’s a little absurd. But afterwards a woman came up and said that she had heard a lot of sermons about Pentecost, but none that named that reason for the importance of Pentecost. (That Pentecost would enable the oppressed Jews living under Empire to united, to be in solidarity with each other.) So, there’s that. Huh.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...


When I preached in Niquinohomo, I spoke about the Exodus as liberation theology. On an intellectual level, I felt similarly strange preaching liberation theology to Nicaraguans as an American. I was also a little shocked that they were letting me, as a woman, preach to both men and women. That's not very common in that area. I realized that I was sharing my own heart with them, you know? Even though I was inspired by liberation theology from Latin America, I wasn't preaching their story. I was preaching my own. And because I was displaced, alone, and ill, I found strength in it. And I think they really appreciated it.