"Everybody who sees you, Bishop Patricia, takes notice." These were the words that Bishop-elect [...]
Four or five times a year, leaders from the 17 ILAG congregations gather at the Lutheran Center for classes and meetings to coordinate their work. Last month, I was invited to participate in the leadership training, which followed two days of reports on the ministry plans of each congregation. 16 of the 17 congregations were represented, and energy was high as a new community was present for the first time, Jesus el Buen Pastor (Jesus the Good Shepherd), located in Coban region.
One of the days of training included completion of a course I began with them last July, Introduction to the Bible. We briefly covered various topics in the New Testament, including an overview of the Gospels. One of the tasks I assigned was for the leaders to form groups and craft a mini-gospel, the core message of Jesus for them in three or four sentences. Here's what one of the groups wrote:
What is the good news for us? The good news for us is that God is with us so that we might have equality, equal dignity, since we are all created in God's image and likeness. Therefore, there should be justice among us, and if there is justice, we will begin to construct the kingdom of God, a kingdom without violence. The kingdom of God is among us. How will we continue to construct the kingdom of God? By changing our attitudes, respecting the dignity of one another and by not looking down on others. We are all free and if we respect the dignity of the other, we are constructing justice, and if we construct justice, there is love, and if there is love, God is with us.
This exercise reminds me of one of the primary reasons I find life in our relationship with our companions in Guatemala, the clarity with which they understand their faith. It's so easy for us to complicate things, and it's a blessing to be called back to the basics of a life in Christ: God is with us; be not afraid; love your neighbor.
The Rev. Paul Erickson
Salem Lutheran Church