Saturday, February 13, 2010

Half a Year?

Happy Six month anniversary (Wednesday) to us! Time really does fly. In reflecting on what this half year has meant to me here in Bolivia I decided to look back at some journaling I had done about deciding to come here, preparing for a month in New York, and eventually arriving and settling in. I found this entry, from the my last night in the US, and felt it was a pretty good reminder of what I'm doing here and why. Why did I feel compelled to come to Bolivia? How does I understand my arrival in Bolivia as a response to the gospel? What am I striving towards not just through my labor, but through my growing love for these girls and our neighbors? So here it is. You're reading my journal right now, is that awkward?

"I've been exploring the layers of Jesus' example to us over this last month. Jesus demonstrates to us loving interpersonal relationships. We carefully examine who he passed the time with, what they spoke about, how they treated each other, etc. We look to our own personal relationships with Jesus for a model of relationships with our family, friends, and even enemies. We cannot forget, though, that Jesus also is presenting to us a model of relationship with the world. He is not simply speaking to us about God's relationships with each individual person, but also about God's relationship with the whole earth. What is Jesus's message, not just to the poor man beside Him, but to the poor of the earth? What about the oppressed? The grieving? The rich and prideful? I fear that we embrace the task of following Christ by being a loving companion, but we forget that Christ's primary example by the cross is reconciliation and restoration of the world as a whole. To neglect our role in bringing peace and justice in to the world, not just our homes, is to deny the major significance of the cross and the restorative work we are invited to partake in when we "take up" this cross. To honor our baptismal call we must look at the mission of Christ the companion of each individual soul, and Christ the redeemer of the whole earth, together. Christ's message is to the world. His works are for all people. He restores the entire human race together and His concern, as ours should be, is for the state of entire world. He was sent to bring peace to humanity, not just to your dinner table. This fact alone places a demand for social justice and global evangelism at the heart of our Christian faith.

If Christ shows us that we must be concerned with the state of the entire earth, He also teaches us that this concern is a call to genuine and loving interpersonal relationships. We see by His incarnation that we can step back to engage the global injustices we encounter by stepping forward to enter in to the lives of the individuals Christ came for (that would be all of us...the great and lowely alike). Remeber that the crucifixion is staggering, not simply because the Lord died for us, but because to do so He had to take on man's mortality to begin with (Think about Ephesians 2:5-11 and be awed again by the incarnation). He came near to participate in our suffering. He became intimatly connected to our lives in ways we could see and touch and perceive, and it was through this intimacy, this connectedness, that the love which freed us was revealed. Thus Jesus showed us that, following His example, we must seek to heal the world, but this healing must be accomplished through loving and compassionate relationships the individuals around us. The interpersonal and the global are equally essential in our response to the gospel, though we rarely express our faith as though it were so.

We cannot ignore the role of social justice in the gospel. How often does Jesus speak in favor of the poor and marginalized? How clear was His condemnation of those abusing their riches and power? Though we each individually are invited to receive His grace, His redemptive sacrifice was intended for the world as whole. Thus we too must follow Christ and take an interest in the world as a whole. We must bring good news to the poor and reject the abuse of wealth and power. Our mission, as followers of Christ, must absolutely take us beyond our own neighborhoods to engage the world as Christ did. This however, is not a sterile and distant mission. Again, God redeemed the world by coming near to us personally. Jesus' miracles frequently are preceeded by an expression of His pity and compassion. He knew these people. God walked amongst us and entered in to our suffering. He wept with the grieved and celebrated with the joyous. He accomplished His salvific work by entering in to our lives and showed us that, to take part in His plan, we too must abandon our status and enter with love and humility in to the lives of the suffering around us. Christianity was never meant to bind us to our familiar "circles." In fact, Jesus' first followers were instructed to do just the opposite. As we look beyond ourselves, however, we must be willing to love the poor and despairing and suffering not simply through our wallets, but as God did by the presence of Christ: in the flesh."

Also, our director, Adam came to visit for a few days. It was a great time. We ate steak and played guitar and overall felt very spoiled. He took some great photos of us actually working (as opposed to partying like all our other photos) and of Johanna teaching voice and me teaching dance. There are also some great shots of the scenery and the gorgeous February flowers (what? it's snowing there? haha, suckers).

Adam's visit

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