Monday, February 1, 2010

Colombia Talk/Sermon Jan 24

In my experience to get to know what the Spirit is all about takes highlighting where the Spirit is mentioned in scripture and just setting aside time to meditate with this mysterious part of the Triune God on a personal one on one bases, because the Spirit is non-tangible and a hard concept to grasp, even a bit more so, in my opinion, than the Father God and Christ. For this I find that it is easy to skim over such references to the Spirit, but this is one of the equally vital members of the Triune. Not too long from now we are going to start talking about Lent and Easter. It is by way of the death, resurrection and ultimate ascension of Christ that we have access to the Counselor. Christ says to his disciples that he has to leave them in order to give them this gift and upon the ascension this gift was made accessible to the entire world. It is because of the Spirit and only by way of the Spirit that we may be ‘guided into all truth’, understand Scripture, have the ability to hear what God is saying to us and have faith in this mind bending, life changing, transformative Triune God. That’s Huge! It is also by the Holy Spirit that God has given us our place in the body of Christ, our place in the world of the Heavenly Kingdom, our homework.

Christ refers to the presence of the Spirit as evidence of a holy anointing. This anointing of the Holy Spirit calls the recipient to act on the Lord God’s behalf. Because we have been seated at the right hand of Christ since his ascension we receive the same anointing when we ask the Holy Spirit into our hearts. “’The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor’.” Period. Then it describes what this means. Preaching good news to the poor, that is the poor in Spirit, is the act that brings sight to the blind (physical blindness and spiritually blind), release for the oppressed (from all forms of oppression) and freedom to the prisoner (spiritual and unjust imprisonment). These actions speak to the gifts held by members of the faith. The thing is that these gifts aren’t always light up in neon lights announcing there presence in the person. We all share in the same work of Christ. What he was called to do, we are called to. What he was able to do, because of the ascension, we are able to do and more. It just takes time and patience to follow in his steps.

While in Colombia I came across many personalities. I discovered that each had his or her way about them. The experience that most marked my time in Colombia was my work with the Bosa mission. Some of you may know about this mission through my blog. So the story with Bosa starts when I met the priests who were starting up the mission Father Alberto and Father Alejandro. They had such passion for the neighborhood and held such deep convictions to servitude. It was wholly refreshing and energizing. It was radical and spoke to where I mentally and spiritually was at that time.

Audra and I were the first missionaries in 30 years in the Diocese of Colombia and the very first young adult missionaries. Seems like this would be an exciting time, actually it was quite boring for the first number of months. The bishop just didn’t know how to use us. It is easier to find a niche for a professional, but official professionals we are not and so we were left in the office doing busy work much more than I was comfortable with. I actually starting to go stir-crazy. So to come across this opportunity to get involved with from the get-go was exactly what my under stimulated brain was yearning for. Audra was counting down her final weeks in Colombia and didn’t want to get involved in a new project she wouldn’t be able to contribute to for much time, so I took the reins on Mission Operation Rescue. From the beginning we all just hit it off very well. Audra and I agreed that there was just something different with the kids in Bosa that was lacking in our work in Libratadores.

So, I am here sharing with you some of the details of this time in Colombia. This is now my warning that it was not at all easy nor straight forward and it is covered in cultural frustrations, however the good news is that I am still very much in love with mission work and Colombia.

As I am prone to, I dove head first into this mission. At first I was working 6 days a week about 13 hours a day including commuting time. I started off by simply taking care of the kids, keeping them entertained and at times, many times, serving as referee to break up fights. Then as Father Alberto’s focus shifted to fundraising efforts I took over cooking duties. There were many an occasion I wanted to string the kids up for being just ridiculous about eating vegetables. The worse was when I made homemade tomato soup from fresh tomatoes!! First I almost had a riot on my hand then I had to put myself in time-out to not go absolutely berserk; these are the joys of working with children. Hahahaha. It took me a while to realize it, but I finally began to question if father Alejandro just might not be coming back around; As Father Alberto and I were trying to figure out how to work our schedules and run the mission between the two of us my suspicions rose.

During this time I attended a service with Father Alejandro at another parish. On our way to the church I asked him if her were still working in Bosa. He assured me he was and would be returning the following week. That next week, he didn’t show up and I finally asked Alberto what this was all about. He finally filled me in that he and Alejandro had had a falling out from the very beginning and had basically kicked him out of the mission. I was floored. First Alejandro had lied to me (just trust me on that one) second Alberto fired our only go-to guy. It damaged my trust, but also gave me a bit of understanding into the culture. I had to start taking such revelations with a Colombian stride.

So to speed up this story: I continued to put my all into the future sustainability of this mission. With the help of a Colombian friend I started to write up a business plan, looked for grants and alternative funding opportunities and started rubbing elbows with local companies. Basically, from waking to sleeping my mind was consumed with figuring out how to make this thing not only work but be an example success story to repeat for all of the missions in the Episcopal diocese.

Unfortunately getting Father Alberto and the important people of the diocese to understand what I was doing proved to be the greatest hurtle that I never was able to clear in the time I had left. The mission died away quickly. I was disheartened and brokenhearted.

Father Edgar, a dear confidant, who I had been discussing the work in Bosa with, was a wonderful shoulder to turn to when I needed my spirit lifted. I am hoping that between Edgar and Diego I can turn over my plans for the mission to them to take the lead on a revolution of transformation for the missions.

So I have been meditating on all of this for a while. What I have decided, after passing through ALL the stages of grief, for loss of the mission, from denial to anger and finally, thanks be to God, left with hope, I realize that it all boils down to everyone is a vital member of the Body of Christ. Each has some gift of great value to contribute to the family. Alberto though not at all who I would turn to for organizational skills is exactly who I would need to get a spiritual pep talk. Father Alejandro’s gift is not necessarily being the most responsible but he has a way of motivating anyone to very real action. Edgar has a shinning gift for communication and Audra has deep insight into a persons being.

Once I got over my own judgments and began releasing people from my own expectations, including the expectations I have for myself, I began to see their hearts and my heart as God sees them. Seeing how the Spirit is moving through them and how irreplaceable each is.

I think that in my misunderstanding and judgment I was inadvertently trying to make an elbow into an index finger or a little toe into a kneecap if you get my drift.

How things get don for the Heavenly Kingdom may not fit into our limited vision and our plans but it does all eventually happen with God leading the way.

I have arrived from Colombia with more patience a great deal more flexibility in the flow of life and a driving force to discover my place in the Body of Christ. April 2nd I will be moving down to Fort Myers Florida to start a two-year internship with ECHO where I will learn about sustainable agriculture in missions. It involves one year in Florida and then an international mission trip with them. I will continue to share my experiences through a blog and group email. Thank you to everyone who took part in my experience by keeping up with my blog, and special thanks to those who I interacted with. I hope to take more people along with me as I continue forward.

In the Name of the Father God, Christ the Son and that fantastic Holy Spirit I pray, Amen

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