Lectionary Selection: Luke 18: 9-14
Prayers for Argentina and Paraguay:
God of celebration and good news, guide the work of our church partners in Paraguay and Argentina. Knit together these diverse communities of faith to meet the challenges that seem overwhelming. Weave together their faith with a curious heart to remain open to learning from one another. Let the Holy Spirit of unity and interconnectedness of “projimos” or neighbors, breathe through these relationships with love. Reveal to them that differing perspectives are keys to understanding. Guide their partnership O’ God and fill it with the spirit of Jesus the Christ. Amen
Mission Stewardship Moment from Argentina and Paraguay:
The world today is increasingly interconnected. This is first and foremost cause for celebration. But it brings challenges. People have different perspectives and guiding experiences. While we are knitted together through common connections, interests, and aspirations, we speak many languages, eat different foods, and come from different places. Marian and I discovered this yet again in Argentina and Paraguay, where we served as ambassadors from a diverse country, to an increasingly diverse region.
Into such a world, Christians must prepare ourselves for ministry.
There are several Christian approaches to pluralism and religion. Some say that the God of the Christians is the same as the God of the Jews and the Muslims (and the Hindus and Buddhists). They might also believe that righteous women and men from these religions and others will be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus. Others do not suppose what will happen in the end, but believe that while we are here, we must promote reconciliation between the different religions as a sign of the in-breaking of the reign of God.
Amidst these differing perspectives, I would offer the metaphor of the hand (this image comes from my hospital chaplaincy supervisor, who received it from his mentor). The hand has several fingers. Each is unique but also interwoven, at its base, with the other fingers. You cannot reduce the thumb to the palm, but at the same time you cannot separate it. You can compare the fingers but you cannot make them one. Each is separate, distinct, and related. Understanding this is essential for loving our neighbors and our projimos.
I would therefore urge us, when thinking about other religions and our interactions with their adherents, to come with an open mind, treasure what we can learn from the encounter, and avoid bringing an interpretive lens that seeks to fit their beliefs and our conversations together into our Christian schema. As Moderator Dr. Neal Presa of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) put in one lecture, our motivation must be, “I want to learn from you!”
(Mission Moment by former missionares James De Boer and Marian Thorpe)
Mission Partners in Paraguay:
- Comite de Iglesias Para Ayuda de Emergencia (CIPAE)
- Iglesia Cristiana Discipulos de Cristo en Paraguay
- Mision de Amistad
- Primera Escuela Paraguaya de Sordos
More information on Paraguay: http://globalministries.org/lac/countries/paraguay/
Amelia Casillas and Pedro Carlo Muniz are members of Iglesia Discipulos de Condado Moderno, Caguas, Puerto Rico and serve as Mission Development consultants with the Round Table for Mission Development of the Disciples of Christ Church in Argentina and the Disciples of Christ Church in Paraguay.