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Spirit-Centered Moment: by Deacon Linda Rube

A Reflection based on Matthew 11: 2-12

Written by Deacon Linda Rube of St. James Lutheran Church in Redding, CA

I recently had the privilege of visiting our Companion Synod in El Salvador to learn more about what the Lutheran Church is doing in El Salvador and to see how my congregation, St. James in Redding, might be a part of that ministry through a sister parish relationship.

I admit I went with preconceived expectations, perhaps like those in our Gospel text who went out to see who this John the Baptist character might be. I expected to find a humble, poor people whose simple faith was inextricably woven into their daily lives. And we were, indeed, welcomed warmly by Salvadoran Lutherans who were devoted to their faith. But I must humbly confess that I found their faith to be much more complex and nuanced than I (in my innate white sense of superiority) had expected. What surprised me most was how singularly passionate our Christian neighbors were about living out the Gospel that called them to serve the most needy among them—not just those in their churches, but all those in their communities who suffered from poverty, gang violence, health issues, environmental issues, lack of economic security, immigration concerns, and human rights violations. Perhaps I should not have been so surprised to witness their dedication to following Christ into the neediness of the world, given their experience of the Salvadoran Civil War and their historical quest for basic human rights for the poor. This is where their faith leads them. I want to know more about this faith.

As Jesus suggests in the Gospel lesson, perhaps I should have expected to encounter prophets on my trip, for that is, indeed, who I found in El Salvador: A church raising up leadership with strong prophetic voices to lead this church into God’s future, with a central focus on proclaiming the Good News to the poor and acting on God’s call to action on behalf of those who need it most. The church in El Salvador is truly alive in the Spirit. I look forward to a growing relationship with them as we walk together and learn from each other what it means to follow Christ in the places where we live.