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I Openly Wept

Author – Rosa Cándida Ramírez is the Worship Pastor of La Fuente Ministries, an intercultural, intergenerational bilingual ministry in Pasadena, California.

On Monday, October 16, 2017, at 12:00 pm I openly wept while leading worship.  At the steps of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Payton Hall, I was crying in front of a group of approximately forty people. We stood together worshipping in the open air, as the California midday sunlight shone upon us. The sight at Payton Hall was unlike any other; there were no seats, no microphones, and no screen or projectors to show lyrics. All we had was a guitar, our voices, the Spirit of God, and one another. This group of people with different schedules, different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds had gathered from different classrooms and came from different departments across campus. This coming together of a body of people was convened for two corporate practices: prayer and to worship. It was a beautiful sight to see. God’s presence was felt in such a palpable way. We were convened by Jennifer Hernandez, a beloved sister, and friend who is DACAmented.[1] She had boldly called upon her friends, her coworkers, her spiritual familia (family) and community to pray and worship in solidarity with her fellow DACAmented, undocumented, and extended immigrant family members.

Let us love one another, not with our lips or with our ears. So that when Christ comes, when Christ comes, he will find us prepared.

Together, we sang the words of a well-known corito (or small chorus)[2]:

Amémonos de corazón, no de labios ni de oídos.

Para cuando Cristo venga, para cuando Cristo venga, nos encuentre preparados

 

This corito roughly translates:

Let us love one another, not with our lips or with our ears.

So that when Christ comes, when Christ comes, he will find us prepared.

 

As a DACA recipient, Jennifer owned her story in the same way that Paul, Silas, Sarah, Joseph, Lydia and countless other sisters and brothers did before her, all of whom understood the realities of the immigrant, the sojourner and/or that of the bicultural experience.

 

As we sung together, the words of the corito came to life;

Amémonos de corazón, no de labios ni de oídos.

(Let us love one another, not with our lips or with our ears).

 

With our bodies, our presence and our voices, we were proclaiming Jennifer’s life, her story and the lives of DACAmented, undocumented, and extended immigrant brothers and sisters mattered. Our song united us. As the guitar strummed and with every breath that we took to sing, Jennifer’s pain became our pain. Her sorrow became our own.

Amémonos de corazón, no de labios ni de oídos.

(Let us love one another, not with our lips or with our ears).

We lean into the reality that Christ has already come, and are in expectation of God’s future work.

Gathered together, our song could have turned into a whine. Instead we stood together, lamented and reminded one another to praise the One who loves regardless of one’s immigration status. It was there at the steps of Payton Hall that we leaned into the reality that while our worship recognized pain and suffering, it was deep seated in the knowledge that God’s abundance met us in the midst of that suffering and was held in expectation of God’s future work.

Para cuando Cristo venga, para cuando Cristo venga, nos encuentre preparados

(So that when Christ comes, when Christ comes, he will find us prepared).

 

Today is Tuesday, November 21st, 2017. We are at the threshold of a new liturgical year, where we anticipate the “here and the-not-yet.” With the change in time and the change in season, we anticipate the highs and lows of what this coming holiday season can and will bring. Meanwhile, we prepare for the season of Advent that is just a few weeks away, when we lean into the reality that Christ has already come, and are in expectation of God’s future work. In the same manner, our immigrant brothers and sisters embody the realities that come with the “here and the-not-yet” while trying to live daily life amidst the fear of deportation.[3] Today, I follow the steps of my sister, Jennifer. I convene you, my dear sisters and brothers to denounce what is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I call upon you—friends, coworkers, spiritual familia (family) and community—to worship and to pray in solidarity. I ask that you call your senators and representatives for the passing of a clean DREAM Act.[4] I ask that you too sing the words of the corito with me and with Jennifer so that we too could be prepared for Christ’s coming.

 

Amémonos de corazón, no de labios ni de oídos.

Para cuando Cristo venga, para cuando Cristo venga, nos encuentre preparados

Let us love one another, not with our lips or with our ears.

So that when Christ comes, when Christ comes, he will find us prepared.

YouTube video of the corito here (words slightly altered, see endnote 2)

 

 

[1] “DACAmented,” term used to describe a recipient of “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” also known as DACA. This executive action taken by President Barak Obama provided a protection from deportation to approximately 800,000 immigrants while at the same time granting temporary work permits to such individuals. This executive action was rescinded by the President Donald J. Trump in September 2017.

[2] For the purpose of this blog post, I will use the following functional definition of “corito” that  Dr. Justo L. González provides in his book titled, “¡Alabádle!: Hispanic Christian Worship”: ”Fairly simple tunes, often with repetitive words, that the people sing by heart. Most of them are anonymous, and pass by word of mouth from one congregation to another. For that reason, the tune or the words of a particular corito may vary significantly from one place to another. They are often sung to the accompaniment of clapping hands, tambourines, and other instruments.” González, Justo L.. Alabadle!: Hispanic Christian Worship (Kindle Locations 1737-1739). Kindle Edition.

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/us/immigrants-deportation-fears.html

[4] In the pursuit of a “clean” Dream Act (S.1615/H.R.3440), supporters are asking for the government to no “use that legislation as a vehicle for increased spending to increase border enforcement, expand immigrant detention, further militarize border communities, or build a wall on the southern border” (https://www.fcnl.org/updates/pass-a-clean-dream-act-1105).

 

Rosa Cándida Ramírez is the Worship Pastor of La Fuente Ministries, an intercultural, intergenerational bilingual ministry in Pasadena, California.

 

One thought on “I Openly Wept”

  1. Thank you for this. This is what #liberationtheology looks like in 2017 . #NoBan#NoWall

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