Sunday, September 8, 2013

Victorious

One of my favorite books is God Has A Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  In it he recounts an experience early in the struggle against apartheid.  He and several Christians were in the cathedral when soldiers burst in, rounding them up and threatening them with their automatic weapons.  Tutu calmly said, "...you may have the guns, you may have all this power, but you have already lost. Come: join the winning side."  He could say that with such authority because he follows Jesus.  Like the black South Africans then, we too are on the winning side.  The side of the Prince of Peace.

Friday morning on a street in Flor del Campo, in the midst of marked drug and gang territories, 500 of us, young and old, proclaimed victory in the name of Jesus at a peace rally  called "Sembradores de Paz" -- Sowers of Peace.  It was a glorious day for a glorious event.  We saw our teenage girls striding in with confidence, as Suzy put it, "looking like Charlie's Angels!" In fact we were surrounded by God's angels of protection and even a few cherubs.



It was a morning of celebration full of praise and thanksgiving.  The event was professionally organized and run by our staff members. They never cease to amaze me.  A pastor, who is president of a network of pastors in Flor del Campo, opened with a prayer that brought me to tears.  Not too long ago, the pastors in Flor would not have been united in such an effort.  All of our kids were there, many of the Alonzo Movement teens, several of the micro-credit clients were there too.  There were many performances, mostly by children, along with the prayers and Suzy's homily.  The sound system was HUGE so, believe me, everyone in the community heard it all!   And we all sang, prayed, cheered and praised the Risen Lord.

But our enemies did not stand by impotently while we gathered.  A politician, the mayor of Tegucigalpa, decided to privatize the soccer field just days ago and immediately put up a big wall around our planned venue.  We simply moved it to the street.  The gangs had expressed their displeasure to our coordinators at having a peace rally .  As Suzy said in her homily:
But Jesus continues to invite:   “Follow me.”  In the midst of all that is happening, faith, hope and love abide, and they will always abide in God’s children if we respond with word and deed to our beloved Christ, “Yes, Lord.  You know that I love you.”   When our eyes are fixed on the world, we are betraying Jesus.   When we submit to fear and desperation, we are traitors.   When we bow are heads and refuse the abundant life which God has promised us, accepting and embracing an existence without faith, hope and love, we are proclaiming that we no longer trust in the Almighty God, in our beloved Jesus who saved us on a cross of wood, in the resurrection and eternal life.
Our leaders and staff are not "traitors."  No, they simply trust in God and follow the Lamb wherever he goes...even into Flor with angry gang members.  Friday morning, we all were undeterred and clearly felt the presence and protection of the Lord.  

Sadly later that night, long after the rally was over, a man who sells vegetables was murdered there.  No one thinks it was a reaction to the peace rally, just a very sad coincidence and evidence that we need to redouble our prayers and efforts.  As Suzy preached:


My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, the grace which we proclaim in word and deed is not an easy grace.  The light with which we work and live cannot be lit without sacrifice, struggle and weeping.  The river of our surroundings is the river of the Holy Spirit, which flows from prayer and fasting.  The tree of life in which the lives of our children and our communities of faith are flowering and feeding, the tree which sucks life from the holy river and the divine light, is the Kingdom of God which can be seen with human eyes, and can be heard with human ears.  Perhaps it isn’t completely transparent, and is only a tiny piece of what is to come, but it is real because we are real, and Christ is real, and the peace which no one can take from us is one of the realities, along with faith, hope and love, of the Kingdom of God.

No, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this struggle is not over.  We will continue to sacrifice.  But we hold to this truth:  The Prince of Peace will overcome.  We will be victorious.  Come!  Join the winning side!






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