At our last Classis meeting we were introduced to a beautiful new song but isn’t it interesting how our own contexts can bring different emotions in times of worship. I understand this to be song of celebration of our salvation in Christ Jesus and a promise from God of perfect restoration, but being shortly removed from spending time in Mexico, it was a difficult song for me to sing. Now when I say Mexico, I don’t mean resort Mexico, I mean Mexico the way seventy percent of the population lives it. I joined a team to travel to Cuernavaca for a program called Quest Mexico (www.quest-mexico.org). The final line in the chorus of the above song (We will feast and weep no more) is referring to a future time of hope and unification with our creator, but in the realness of here and now, in places like Tlamacazapa, Mexico, weeping and hunger are what the people face every day.
My heart was broken as I tried to sing through tears, thinking about the people I met, who welcomed me into what they called their home. In this little rural village in south/central Mexico, there are limited (at best) amenities of electricity and water and no septic system at all. Families struggled to survive using palm leaves to weave into baskets and trinkets. They also hand crafted small bracelets to try and sell in the streets. Children as young as six years old were being taught to weave and employed into the family business to try and make enough money to provide the basics of daily bread.
When we asked why the children were at home and not school, the parents told us that they could not send their children to school because they were fearful of losing them. In recent months, members of a local drug cartel had come into the community and kidnapped a dozen children from the school to use as forced workers in their drug business. The rural village is not on the radar of the government or law enforcement units and so the people are left to struggle on their own. It is this isolation and lack of resources that makes the people vulnerable and now fearful to even let their children out of their sight. As a parent with young children, this was one of the most difficult stories for me to see and hear about. It broke my heart to see kids not being able to be kids, not being able to go to school and flourish in the freedom, joy and young bliss that they should be able to live in.
We left that day, challenged to find hope in a situation that felt utterly hopeless. Wondering what could be changed to allow the systems of injustice to be loosened for communities like this. Praying that God will remain with them in ways we do not know or understand, to comfort and sustain them. This was just one encounter of an eye opening, challenging and informative journey that I was blessed to be a part of. I will share more stories of it in the near future, I hope to engage diaconates with some of the ways it connects directly to our lives in Canada and despite the trouble and challenges we saw, the over-riding message we encountered was one of renewing hope.
Despite the challenge of the song for me on that day, as I reflect on it further, it does fit in with that sense of hope we heard over and over. It was also paired with the call to worship from Isaiah 25 and verses 4 and 5 speak to the situation well. “But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, or like the relentless heat of the desert. But you silence the roar of foreign nations. As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat, so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.
This we pray today, Amen. - Jesse