International Ministries

Light and Fog: A Christmas Story

January 4, 2010 Journal
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We woke up and there’s dense fog in the city. It is winter, a season of cold and thick fog. Here, in San Cristobal de Las Casas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the inspiring symbol of our steps in life; and we will not allow the fog to blind and confuse the meaning of this birth nor to make us lose our way.

Jesus was born in a time of dense fog. Herod, like many rulers, felt powerful controlling the information and applying his anger against any opposition to his rule. So he tried to co-opt the mages, wise men of different religions and peoples that deep inside heard the beginning of a new era. They, guided by the divine light of dreams and revelations of their hearts, followed their intuition and distanced themselves from the murderer. They offered their worship to the one - a small one, a child, one among the people, one who was poor; they worshiped Jesus. Herod could not endure a rival that would unite peoples and religions far from his control and ordered the killing of children. With clear memory of the pain of the world, Jesus grew up and spent his life to shine, as the star that illuminated the Magi. Jesus broke through the fog of hatred and power with his denunciations of institutional and personal sin and announcements of justice, with healing and forgiveness, and with words and gestures that dignified the lives of many men and women. This Jesus we follow.

Doris and I feel an immense privilege to be back in Chiapas and feel that this star shows us the way. Our children are in Puerto Rico and we pray for them so that their paths will be illuminated with the same light that illuminates the paths of our ministries in Chiapas. A light dispels the darkness in our lives and in the challenging ministry of our context.

Returning late at night from a community meeting, Juan Ramon, a young Mayan man of 19 years old came with us back to san Cristobal. Juan Ramon was distressed by a recurring dream where he was chased by wild cows, brilliant pebbles were given to him and a dear dead friend invited him as a corpse to smoke. Juan Ramon refused and showed him the brilliant stones. The anguish of that dream kept awakening him in tears. He did not know what to do. While conversing, the road seemed to echo his pain because that night the fog was so thick that we could barely see the road just 3 feet away. I drove carefully and slow. We talked, and in the process of asking and responding, God revealed Juan Ramon’s loneliness, his grief over the loss of his friend, his shame of becoming distant from God, and the cultural values that he still treasured and feared to lose. There among the mists and lonely roads, Juan Ramon asked Jesus to guide him, to forgive him, to become his friend. There in the cabin of our truck we became family. There in the dense fog, light shone forth.

Many young indigenous men suffer not only extreme poverty and forced migration, but also the theft of their culture and community values. Many receive a foreign cultural avalanche through the mass media without spaces to talk about this, to adjust to changes, nor to discern the values opposing their history, values and memory as Mayan people. The fog threatens them to lose their ways.

On the other hand, in Chiapas a lament is heard like in biblical Ramah. There is an increase in intimidation, aggressions, raids, arrests and detentions of the state against those who are beyond the control of Herod. A dignified rage increase with each assault. Also an increase in symbols, bright lights and images about Christmas cloud the deep commitment to Jesus with a superficial and silly life. There is a dense fog and we could lose the steps.

However, the light of Life slowly shows us the way forward. We asked those who walk with us: where do we walk to? Shall we continue? Our Mayan brothers and sisters accompany us and together we work with these young lives. And you, with your words of encouragement and your supportive presence, also dare to walk with us... You tell us, YES, there is a light in the way!... And so we keep walking. The star of Bethlehem is lighting the path and you walk with us through the fog!

Pray for our children and our family back at PR. Pray for wisdom in the processes that will help us clarify how to extend the kingdom with justice and hope. Pray for our brothers and sisters facing a challenging year of yet more scarcity. Pray for the rain and the wellness of the land.

We pray that this time of remembrance of "Immanuel - God with us" be of deep personal and family renewal. Let there be PEACE.

In Jesus' light

Ricardo