Happy New Year

Dear Comunidad,

¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo!

I have an aversion to New Year’s Resolutions. Always have. I do believe in constantly growing as a person and as a Christians.  I want to focus more intentionally on a few overarching values this year, areas where I constantly fall short.

I will be kinder.

I will be more generous.

I will be more patient.

I will embrace silence and stillness.

I will be more loving and more willing to accept love from others.

We can’t grow and thrive in a vacuum, or at least I can’t. I need your help in becoming a better person this year. I need your friendship, your understanding, your patience, and your love.

How are you committed to grow this year?

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

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Reflections on the Eve of Nativity

Dear Comunidad,

So, we are on the eve of our Saviour’s birth. While I am sure many people are finishing up their holiday shopping, wrapping those final gifts and anticipating the arrival of their families, I am sitting here – glass of wine in hand – reflecting on the most unconventional Nativity that I am embarking on this year.

I am not going home to see my family this year. I am somewhat church-less this year. I am single this year. I am technically homeless this year.

To say that 2010 was a year of significant life changes would be an understatement – home changes, job changes, relationship changes, friendship changes,…shall I go on? The details are neither here nor there, but collectively they have left me yearning for renewal, to re-examine and re-define what restoration and redemption means in this time of my life. I can’t think of a better time to take pause to reflect than now, as the birth of our Lord draws near.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Make merry, O heaven and earth, as the Prophets foretold! Celebrate in the spirit, O Angels and [women]! Godde is born from the Virgin and appears in the flesh to those who sit in darkness and shadow. – His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr, Primate, Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

The Gospel Should Be Enough…but it’s not!

Dear Comunidad,

I just want to start off by saying that I have missed blogging here as of late. December is always a busy time of year for me – wrapping up current projects, closing the books, preparing for the year to come. Due to some new circumstances, December is turning out to be even busier than usual. However, I think that I am back. I have one more week of lots of projects. I have decided to take some down-time during the week between Christmas and New Years. With that being said….

I love blogging about the intersection of faith and community. I love blogging about the intersection of faith and politics/culture. I love living at the intersection of faith, community and culture even more than blogging about it. I love being in relationship with people that I share faith with, people who can come to the table in love to talk about important issues that we may or may not agree on.

Well…only sometimes and often only in theory!

I think that while we are called to live relationally, I also believe that relational living has the potential to harm more than help. The reality of living in community with people who tolerate more than accept is painful. This happens when certain boundaries are crossed, when entitlement creeps in, when people begin to feel justified in ways they clearly aren’t. These situations usually originate from an unequal and unhealthy power dynamic, whether real or perceived, a nuance that typically only boils down to semantics.

My truth is that…

I believe in the Gospel.

I believe in the Kingdom of Godde.

I believe that we are called to be relational.

I believe that I am Godde’s child, made in the perfect image of the Divine.

Yet, I am not convinced that the current community of faith I find myself in is healthy for me. In fact, I know that it isn’t. I knew that more than a year ago when certain events transpired. I know for sure that it isn’t healthy for them (but that is an Eva-ism for another day). I am not sure how I can continue to go to church Sunday after Sunday. I fail to see what good can come from me continuing to fake feeling included and accepted, when in reality I only feel tolerated.

Quick sidenote – this post was originally inspired by some trends and behavioral patterns I was witnessing at my church that were making me increasingly uncomfortable. Sometimes there is a fine line between being in community with people and people being all up in each other’s  business. I was noticing the latter at my church. I was noticing that conversations traveled throughout the church and not by way of the person who actually owned the particular narrative.

I noticed this behavior being couched in “concern” for the original party involved and that people were ensuring that said person would be “adequately supported” by the community. Sound’s quaint, right? It ain’t that cute though. It’s gossip. Sharing  a narrative that is not one’s own without that person’s consent is gossip, plain and simple!

My church has a track record in that regard and that track record ain’t cute either. Anyway, that is neither here nor there at this point since clearly this post went in a whole other direction…

Being at church has become painful. Being a part of the Kingdom and sharing the Gospel should be enough, right? It should transcend all else, right? It shouldn’t matter that we have little to no other common ground. It shouldn’t matter that they aren’t affirming, that they believe that I shouldn’t be afforded equal rights. It shouldn’t matter that they only give lip-service to “diversity” and “tolerance” but do very little to live that out in their lives. It shouldn’t matter that people openly pray to have their friend and loved ones “delivered from homosexual sin” and that they expect me to not be hurt by this. It shouldn’t matter that people feel entitled to sit in judgment on my life, to freely weigh in on my life as if you get a vote in my decision making process. My life is not a Democracy that they get to participate in.

None of this should matter because the Gospel should transcend. The Gospel should transform. The Gospel should do a lot of things….but it doesn’t. I should stop here and state that I fully believe in the majesty and power of Godde, it’s just Godde’s people who I have little faith in.

The Gospel should transcend all of these things, but it just doesn’t. Perhaps I am too broken or we are too broken, or the world is too broken, or all of the above.  Being in community does not feel restorative or redemptive or healing right now in my life, especially when it actually feels invasive, when it feels hurtful, when I don’t feel accepted,…..like right now!

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

Over it….

Disclaimer: You may not want to read this if you are a lover of “Christian abstractions”!

I am over the hallow, evangelical code-speak that is so abstract it makes me want to vomit!

If I hear “Godde is calling us to….” one more time I am going to scream. You can pretty much rationalize that Godde is calling you to just about anything. Whether She is or not, that is a whole other can of worms. I think people listen to their desires more than what “Godde is calling them to.” Just because YOU want it, doesn’t make it so!

I don’t think Godde calls us to half the crap that we ascribe to Her! That is all!

Blogging as Sacred Space

Dear Comunidad,

I’ve started this post in various forms over the last couple of days. I always ended up erasing it. Why did I start this blog? It should be fairly easy to answer. Yet, every explanation sounded too angry or t0o selfish or too whiny. I have resounded to the fact that it’s going to sound however it will sound and I will have to work through all the baggage. After all, isn’t that really why I started this blog?

So….*deep breathe*, I started this blog because I was (and still feel) alienated and alone in my current spiritual community. I attend a suburban missional church that is predominantly white, straight and middle class. All primary ministry positions are held by white, straight men. While the community is quite young in age, there is little ethnic or sexual diversity. The community s a whole is not affirming. Some members have extended friendship to me, yet their comments are often insensitive and prejudiced. Pointing this fact out is met with hostility and defensiveness. Most encounters with people of color, whether intentional or by chance, occur within a power dynamic that is problematic at best. As a queer person of color this feels like a constant slap in the face. It makes me feel like a token. It doesn’t make me feel like a valued member of the community.

The reality is that….

I am queer.

I am Latina.

I am Christian.

I was born this way, by Godde’s design. I am proud and unashamed about who and what I am. While these are significant pillars of who I am, they aren’t the only ones. I am also a daughter, a sister and a friend. I am a procrastinator and a crier. I am addicted to coffee, books (especially antiques), and flowery perfume. Above all else, I am a human being, who came into the world just like everyone else and recognize that I only have a relatively short time on this planet.

I also come from a very different Christian tradition than most of the people I share community.  I currently attend a missional (non-denominational/protestant) church where there are significant differences, culturally and linguistically, in theology and in practice. I sometimes feel as traditions that deviate too much from theirs is viewed as less worthy. There are many differences theologically, culturally and even linguistically. I often am lost in the language they use, particularly in areas where the differences are glaring

  • form of worship (congregational vs liturgical)
  • understanding of the Eucharist (symbolic versus umm…sacramental)
  • ideas around salvation and “born again-ism”
  • view of Scripture and the value of Sacred Tradition of the historical church

….just to name a few

I have considered seeking out a new spiritual community on many occasions, but it’s hard to step away when you have been in community with people for  almost three years.

Truth – I care about the people in this community

Truth – I want to feel validated and valued

Truth – I don’t want to just be a token

Truth – I need community

I have questions than answers. What I do know is that right now I need space to take a beat, to unpack some of my thoughts without feeling like I am in a dissertation defense.

In comes Seeking God in Community, my personal sacred space, providing me with:

…the freedom to work through questions

…the freedom from judgment

…the freedom to make new, meaningful connections

…the freedom to participate in in two-way conversations

I hope that we can have some honest and authentic discussions around topics that challenge me and maybe a few that challenge you.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me!

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

Hanukkah, A Time of Re-Dedication

Dear Comunidad,

I would like to take a moment to wish all of my Jewish friends a blessed Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, an eight-day Jewish celebration commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple – the Second Temple – in Jerusalem.

I pray that, regardless of how we call upon Godde in our lives, we can take this opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to walking alongside each other in love and understanding.

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

Blessed are you, Lord, our Godde, sovereign of the universe
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us
to light the lights of Hanukkah. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord, our Godde, sovereign of the universe
Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord, our Godde, sovereign of the universe
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season. Amen.

Monday Meditation, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Have mercy on me, a sinner….

The John Climacus used words from his heart to pain the picture would eventually inspire  the icon depicted below. While his words were intended as a monastical treatise, I wonder if he had people like me in mind, people who may not necessarily be called to that life.

Intercessions of the Godde Bearer

Dear Comunidad,

The Weeping Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” at Novgorod has been in my meditations as of late. Whether this is informed by the Nativity season or something more random, I think the timing probably couldn’t be better.

During this season I become acutely aware of how diminished the position of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Godde Bearer, has become in our society, even within Christian circles. It breaks my heart that the mother of all mothers is relegated to an after thought or footnote.

Now is a splendid time to cast our eyes on Godde through the intercessions of the Mother of our Lorde, for just as the Theotokos gave birth to Christ in a bodily way, so we must, give birth to Christ in an unbodily or spiritual way. In so doing, we imitate Her practical spiritual life, including the purity and humility by which She formed Her free will into perfect obedience to the Will of Godde.

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

A prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos, by St Peter of Damascus

Blessed Queen of the universe,
thou knowest that we sinners have no intimacy with God whom thou hast borne.
But, putting our trust in thee,
through thy mediation we thy servants prostrate ourselves before the Lord:
for thou canst freely approach Him since He is thy son and our God.
Thus I, too, unworthy believer that I am, entreat thee, holy Queen,
that I may be allowed to perceive the gifts of grace bestowed on thee
and on the other saints,
and to understand how thou dost display so many virtues.
Simply thy giving birth to the Son of God shows that thou excellest all other beings.
For He Who, as creator of all,
knows all things before they come into existence
found thy womb worthy of His indwelling.

My First Prayer

The first prayer I ever learned. The prayer I return to every morning and night. The prayer of praying without ceasing.

Nativity: 40 (27) days of Fasting

Dear Comunidad,

I was raised in a Christian tradition that not only recognized a church calendar but lived it on a daily basis. The church calendar was one manifestation of Holy Tradition that informed our daily lives, creating rhythms and cycles that brought the Gospel to life. I didn’t necessarily understand the traditions growing up, but as an adult, I have found comfort, nourishing and grounding in my upbringing. The rituals, the repetitions and the cycles of the church year are the foundation on which my inner spiritual self is built.

Millions of Christians around the world are currently observing the Nativity Fast (one of four Canonical Fasting Seasons), a period of abstinence and repentance in preparation of the Nativity of Christ.  As we approach the second Sunday in the Nativity Fast, we have an opportunity to draw closer to Godde.

  • by turning our eyes and hearts towards others in community
  • by turning our eyes and hearts towards others in forgiveness
  • by turning our eyes and hearts towards others in repentance
  • by turning our eyes and hearts towards Godde in prayer
  • by repairing what is broken in your life, relationship with others and yourselves

How will you be observing this joyous fast?

Recibir a Cristo,
Eva

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