Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pentecost at the Bread National Gathering

(Photo Rick Reinhard)
(On Sunday evening, June 12, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the  National Latino Evangelical Coalition, graced the Bread for the World National Gathering with a reflection on Pentecost and Esther 4:10-17

Rev. Jeanette Salguero participated in the reflection, translating the sermon into Spanish.  Both she and her husband are senior pastors at Lamb's Church of the Nazarene in New York City.  Below are some excerpts).

It is not lost on me that today is Pentecost Sunday. That is significant if we're going to mobilize a movement for action.  A global movement. An inclusive movement.  A heterogeneous movement.

I think it is appropriate that we speak on Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost, at its core, is not just about speaking. The miracle of Pentecost is not the polyglot nature of the manifestation, but that they all heard.

One of the miracles of Pentecost is...the discipline to sit through something that is not your native tongue.  That is the miracle of Pentecost moments.

But I understand that if we’re going to to get something done. It’s going to take a movement, an integrated movement. Notice that I am not saying assimilated, but integrated.

So this is how we come to the table. Not my table. Not your table. God's table.

I think it is important that we reflect in the next few minutes about Esther Principles for Action. I think it is important that we listen from a woman this evening, particularly because poverty and hunger disproportionally affect women and children.  

It is important for us to hear from this woman about principles as we get set to be commissioned to action. This is a commissioning service. 

I was drawn to Esther because she is an interesting figure.  She is a beauty queen who changed her world around...But there was more to her.  From these texts, I just want to draw a few principles.

It is a crisis moment. There is threat of imminent death and extinction.  Mordecai, her uncle, says to her, "Now is the time for you to do something." You who know the Bible well might remember that she spent some time in anonymity.  Mordecai counseled her back not to reveal herself until the right moment.  We'll call that silent strategizing.

Mordecai says, "Now is the moment."  The time is now, when imminent cuts threaten the domestic and international communities suffering from hunger and poverty.

I want to tell you that the Mordecai named Bread for the World is telling all the Esthers in the room, "Now is the time.  For if we keep silent, do not think we will escape."
Photo Rick Reinhard
Allow me some alliteration. Purposeful proximity.

To go back to our communities. The communities whom we serve and commission us....Our access has to have a purpose. And that purpose has to be speaking truth to power.

Prophesy is to speak truth to power.  But prophesy is not just speaking truth to power. It is speaking truth to those who have been robbed of power. We need to speak truth to power. But we also need to speak truth to the power challenged.

Principle #1 is to ask ourselves why are we here. And it is for purposeful proximity. It is to say, if we are speaking is not just because we are saving the lives of people. It is a whole soul that we’re saving. It is the soul of this country that we’re saving.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, "to prick the conscience of America."   It is not just people's lives that we are saving, but it is the moral compass of this country that we are saving.

It is not the moral compass of this country, it is the moral compass of multinational corporations, it's the moral compass of churches and denominations.  Prophetic solidarity. We’re not just saving people, we’re saving the soul of a country.  This prophetic solidarity should lead to powerful pluralism.

To be clear, if we're going to make change that is sustainable, we need intentional diversity. We need to move beyond tokenism. Latinos are not in America to say "Uno para inglés y Dos para español." We're here to be part of a movement, African Americans, Asian Americans, First Nations or Native Americans, we need a Pentecost integration that moves beyond tokenism.

For this to work, the voices of indigenous leadership have to be at the table, we need Esther, we need Mordecai and we need the Jewish people of Shushan, we need powerful pluralism.

And if we have powerful, pluralism, it should be informed by policy intelligence. There's nothing worse than an uniformed opinion that destroys you.

When Mordecai comes to Esther, he had surveyed the situation.  I was appreciative to hear (USAID Administrator) Raj Shah this morning, because he gave us his perspective of what governments should be.

And then I was more moved when (Rev.) Ched Meyers spoke because it gave us a theological profundity.  

We are not just going to follow policy. We are going to form and inform, based on our faith, based on our commitments...on a God who loves all, on a God who welcomes all, on a God who wants to feeds all.
Excerpts of Sermon at Bread for the World's National Gathering, June 11, 2011

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