On March 24, 1980 when Romero was murdered as he preached on John 12:24, he became the grain of wheat that fell to the ground, died, and bore much fruit. One of these fruits was his vision of the priesthood of all believers. He insisted that every Christian has a role to play during times of crisis.
Last month, just before the coronavirus lockdowns, I had the opportunity of participating in a pilgrimage of lament and hope in El Salvador with students from Duke Divinity School where I teach. We visited places of profound pain and met with witnesses of unspeakable horrors.
We also encountered witnesses to hope. One of these was a group called “Ecumenical Women for Peace.” These women from different denominations share a common conviction: only a united church can address the national crisis and promote a community of abundant life for all.
We met these ecumenical women in a monastery because their group includes cloistered nuns belonging to the order of Saint Clare. From across the half wall that separated the nuns from the rest of us, we exchanged greetings; we talked; we sang; we prayed; we shared food. These nuns do not offer direct assistance to victims of violence; they do not lobby for just legal processes. Nevertheless, they are peacemakers through their ministry of hospitality and prayer.
On this Holy Saturday, it seems that we can do so little. The church appears to be as helpless as the body of Christ hidden in a tomb. Romero and the little sisters of Saint Clare in San Salvador would remind us that each of one of us has a role to play during this time of crisis. We can pray. This is not all we can or should do, but it is the least and the most we must do. Prayer is the greatest interpreter of hope. Prayer can transform a home into a cloister, a living room into an Upper Room, a grocery store clerk into a priest, and death into life.
A Prayer by Adela Samayoa
Methodist member of the Ecumenical Women for Peace:
Good God and Father, in this time of crisis, anxiety, sickness and death, we remember the pain and passion of your Son, who died to give us life and show us the purest of loves. Because of this love, we have hope for today. Allow us to reflect him and spare no efforts even if this means offering our very lives. In our homes, help us be your temple and never forget that we have always been so from the moment of our creation. We want to be like Romero, the seed that today dies in prayer but that tomorrow sprouts and rises with your Son in the homes of those who need bread, consolation, love, protection, health, and peace. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become aware this week:
Discover ministries already in place and find churches/organizations already serving the Hispanic community.
To cultivate growth this week:
Collaborate with a local immigrant organization to host a community event that offers learning, exposure, and growth in cultural competencies.
To advocate this week:
Mobilize neighboring congregations to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
Edgardo Colón-Emeric is an elder in the North Carolina Conference and Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology at Duke Divinity School.