Search
  • Marissa Galván

Updated: Apr 2, 2019


El silencio del invierno

Desde que vivo aquí en los Estados Unidos, me asombran los cambios de estaciones. En Puerto Rico, en donde nací, las estaciones usualmente son más o menos lluvia. Sin embargo, me parece un milagro ver como durante el invierno, los árboles dejar de crecer, no hay que cortar la hierba y la naturaleza parece caer en un estado de silencio.


Jack London, un escritor famoso cuyas historias usualmente se desarrollan en el Yukon describe el silencio del invierno en una historia llamada El silencio blanco.


«La naturaleza tiene muchas artimañas para convencer al hombre de su finitud -el incesante fluir de las mareas, la furia de la tormenta, la sacudida del terremoto, el largo retumbar de la artillería del cielo-, pero la más tremenda, la más sorprendente de todas es la fase pasiva del silencio blanco. Cesa todo movimiento, el aire se despeja, los cielos se vuelven de latón; el más pequeño susurro parece un sacrilegio, y el hombre se torna tímido, asustado del sonido de su propia voz».

El silencio blanco nos convence de nuestra finitud. Nada se mueve. Todo el crecimiento para. Todo se detiene, hasta que la primavera comienza a romper el silencio. Los narcisos comienzan a salir de la tierra con sus amarillos y verdes. Las flores de los árboles comienzan su alabanza de colores. No hay nadie que pueda negar que esto está sucediendo. El silencio está acabando... y parece ser sustituido con una celebración de vida, con una canción de júbilo... y con una invitación a pasar la cortadora.



Mientras callé

Se dice que el Salmo 32 es un salmo de acción de gracias individual que celebra el perdón de los pecados y la renovación espiritual. El salmo comienza con estas palabras. «Bienaventurado o verdaderamente feliz aquel cuya transgresión ha sido perdonada y ha sido cubierto su pecado».


Sin embargo, dentro de esta celebración hay una advertencia que viene cuando el salmista describe lo que sucede cuando un ser humano cae dentro de los efectos espirituales y psicológicos de no reconocer su pecado. El salmista proclama «mientras callé se envejecieron mis huesos en mi gemir todo el día».


El silencio, el esconderse, el no reconocer las cosas que nos separan de Dios y de otras personas, la culpabilidad, el sentimiento de que algo no está bien en nuestra relación con Dios y con otras personas... estas cosas son cargas reales y pesadas para nuestras vidas. Nuestros huesos envejecen. Nos pasamos de gemido en gemido. No podemos concentrarnos. El estrés se apodera de nuestras vidas. Dejamos de crecer. Nos vence el miedo. Dejamos que el silencio nos consuma de tal manera que sentimos que no merecemos el amor de Dios... o cualquier otro tipo de amor.



La confesión del hijo pródigo

El pasaje del evangelio para el cuarto domingo de Cuaresma nos da un buen ejemplo de cómo el silencio nos aísla. Es la parábola del hijo pródigo. Cuando este hijo, el más joven en su casa, gasta todo el dinero que le ha pedido su padre, da la casualidad que comienza una hambruna en el lugar donde está. Él no encuentra que comer y no tiene dinero para poder vivir. Con todo y eso, su primer instinto no es dejarle saber a su familia lo que está pasando. Prefiere trabajar con cerdos que reconocer que necesita arreglar las cosas con su padre. Trata de ser valiente y se mantiene en silencio... pero su vida va tan mal que envidia la comida que le está dando a los cerdos. Es en ese momento que el evangelio nos dice que el joven «vuelve en sí». De repente surge un despertar en su ser y se da cuenta de que tiene que romper el silencio y admitir el mal que ha hecho: «me levantaré, iré a mi padre y le diré: "Padre, he pecado contra el cielo y ante ti. Ya no soy digno de ser llamado tu hijo"». Necesita arreglar las cosas... así que vuelve a casa, arrepentido por lo que ha hecho.



El perdón del padre está garantizado. El padre corre hacia el hijo y lo abraza, casi sin dejarle hablar.



El silencio después de la confesión comunitaria

Todos los domingos recibimos una invitación a arreglar nuestra relación con Dios... esa invitación viene en medio de un silencio. Después de hacer la confesión comunitaria, la pastora se para y nos invita a confesar nuestros pecados a Dios. Ya hemos confesado comunitariamente y quizás las palabras de la confesión nos han recordado qué cosas en nuestras vidas no están bien. Pero lo que sigue es un silencio incómodo. Un silencio que debe ser llenado con palabras de arrepentimiento, perdón y paz. Un silencio que Dios quebranta con palabras de gracia y de perdón. Sin embargo, en ocasiones el silencio permanece. Permanece lleno de frío, de miedo, de ceguera. Ha veces nuestras mentes están llenas de pensamientos sobre cuándo acabará el silencio, sobre cuándo la pastora se parará a hablar. Y la posibilidad de la primavera nunca llega. Y las flores de gracia no florecen... y no volvemos en sí y nuestros huesos siguen envejeciendo.



Voy a confesar

Sin embargo, vemos como el salmista, dentro de su silencio, tiene una transformación. Cuando admite su pecado ante Dios, cuando no esconde su culpa, entonces abre su corazón y recibe perdón y gracia.


Cuando el hijo pródigo está de camino a la casa de su padre... su padre está pendiente de su llegada, aún si él saberlo. Cuando ve a su hijo a la distancia, no necesita escuchar el discurso que probablemente el hijo se ha estado repitiendo una y otra vez de camino a casa. El perdón del padre está garantizado. El padre corre hacia el hijo y lo abraza, casi sin dejarle hablar.


Dios remueve la culpa. Dios perdona el pecado. Y este perdón nos restaura... restaura nuestras relaciones, restaura el crecimiento, restaura la paz y restaura el gozo.


Del silencio, nuestras vidas pueden ser transformadas en gozo. El salmista termina su salmo con estas palabras: «Oh justos, alégrense en el SEÑOR y gócense; canten con júbilo todos los rectos de corazón».


Hay una verdadera invitación en este salmo. Abran sus ojos. No se queden en el silencio. ¡Vuelvan en sí! Reconozcan que el pecado les separa de Dios y de otras personas. Arrepiéntanse. Pidan perdón. Corrijan sus relaciones con Dios y con las personas a las que necesiten pedir perdón. Arreglen sus vida... y podrán florecer... podrán vivir en la primavera de la gracia... y podrán cantar con júbilo.


Los narcisos comienzan a salir de la tierra con sus amarillos y verdes. Dios nos da la gracia para florecer.

42 views0 comments
  • Marissa Galván

Updated: Jul 16, 2020


King in the Wilderness

A recent documentary about the live of Martin Luther King called “King in the Wilderness” describes the last days of MLK, before his assassination on April 4, 1968. It presents a somewhat disheartened man… a misunderstood man. He has fought and won many a fight, but he is also a man very aware that the message that God has given him goes beyond the scope of his work with the black community.


He talked about nonviolence and peace… but realized that peace also applied to responding to the war in Vietnam. He talked about improving the living conditions of poor blacks in the South… but realized that he needed to also deal with those conditions in the North and with other racial ethnic groups… including those who were white and poor.


When he decided to be more inclusive, to address the war in Vietnam and to include other groups in what they called the Poor People’s Campaign, he found a resistance that made him sad and frustrated. He was used to the resistance he faced when he had to write the Letter from Birmingham jail, but this resistance came from his own people, from the people that had supported him.


They were questioning his approach of nonviolence as weak and ineffective. They wanted to fight fire with fire. They were against his questioning the government that had granted the civil rights bill on Vietnam. They thought that he should stick to his original message and not broaden the spectrum of impact. As a result, he spent his last days on this earth feeling alone, and as if walking in the wilderness.


The extremism of the message

If you take a closer look at what MLK’s message, what he is doing is a natural consequence of what he was proclaiming. If you believe in nonviolence, then you cannot support a war. If you believe in fighting against the systems that produce injustice, then the consequences of that fight are going to affect all of those that are oppressed and that are poor. He discovered that you cannot pick and choose who benefits and who doesn’t.


To me, is like the whole issue of being pro-life. If you take the concept to its ultimate consequences, then you cannot be pro-life and pro death penalty… because that implies killing a living thing. King discovered that messages have consequences beyond what we expect, and affect even those that we did not think about.


In our Christian world we talk about love and grace and about their consequences. But, we cannot dictate who God loves. And grace cannot be conditioned or limited. God might give grace to someone that we think undeserving… but that is the measure of God’s grace: unconditional, unlimited, revolutionary, extreme.


Mary’s song of revolution

In an article called “Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ in the Bible is revolutionary. Some evangelicals silence her”, D.L. Mayfield suggests that Mary’s song that we just read tends to be omitted in some circles of the Christian faith, because it is too revolutionary. Mayfield cites Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed by the Nazis, who says that the Magnificat is “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.”


The first part of the Magnificat is usually used to write songs in English, Spanish and Latina. Magnificat, anima mea, sing the choirs as they remember Mary's praise. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”


We sing with Mary, without giving it a second thought… but would we want to sing the rest of the song when we are the well fed? When we are the ones that have money? When we are the ones that have power? When we benefit from systems of oppression?


Mary was a young woman. She had no position of power. Mary belonged to a people that were being oppressed by the Roman Empire. Mary was not a married woman and was with child. Three strikes… and I’m sure we could find more. She belonged to the poor, to those without power. And even in those circumstances, Mary received a special assignment from God, an assignment that fulfilled God’s promise to God’s people.


But if you listen further to her song, this promise goes beyond celebrating her luck in being chosen as the vessel of the Messiah. And for us... the promise goes beyond rejoicing about the birth of a cute little baby in a manger. It goes beyond individual forgiveness of sins. It goes beyond personal salvation.


Listen again to her song: “God has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”


As Mayfield questions: “How does the Magnificat feel if you aren’t one of the lowly, if you aren’t as vulnerable and humble as Mary?”


God promises to change the lives of those who suffer. God promises to lift up the lowly and to put down the powerful. God raises the poor from the dust. God, in Mary’s song, is on the side of the poor, the hungry, the weak and the sad.


We may not like this part of the song. We might feel uncomfortable with a God that speaks about scattering, bringing down or sending people away empty. We might even think that God could not say such things, because they are too extreme. A God that shows preference for the poor? A God that dislikes those that are rich? Can we sing with Mary under such circumstances?

If the answer is yes, then we must recognize the ultimate consequences and impact of the song. As Paul Simpson Duke states, “The lifting of the lowly comes in tandem with the falling of the powerful.” God is at work to scatter the proud, to dethrone the powerful, to banish the rich, while feeding the hungry and lifting the lowly.


Duke states that Mary’s song belongs to all of those who want and need redemption, to those that fight against poverty, warfare, injustice, racism and oppression. It belongs to those that trust that God will fulfill God’s promises.


Martin’s song

Mary’s song belonged to MLK and to those that continue to work and hope for peace, for joy and for love.


In his letter, King’s responds to being called an extremist. He challenges those who are questioning him with Jesus and with other examples of those who in some shape or form trust in God’s promises and are faithful to God’s message as Mary did. Was not Jesus an extremist for love? Was not Amos an extremist for justice? Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel?

They all had to believe in the ultimate consequences of God's message, in its power to transform realities that were working against God's vision of the kindom, in order to be true prophets of change.


The important thing for MLK was not extremism. The important thing was what we are extremist for. He challenged then and us “Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”


Will we sing Mary’s song with the knowledge of its ultimate consequences and impact? Will we be extremists for love, truth and goodness and challenge an environment that seems dominated by hate, lies and revenge? Will we act in in remembrance of God’s mercy or choose only the parts of the song that are cuter, nicer, not controversial or extreme?


MLK once said “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”. This was an extreme choice, when facing all of the hate and violence he faced. It was a choice that came with the sacrifice of his life.


May our songs this Christmas and in the coming year, reflect God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s goodness and God’s justice in their ultimate consequences. May our moral and spiritual beliefs be our guide and impact every aspect of our lives in ways expected and unexpected. Not doing so is too great a burden to bear. May God help us to do so.



2 views0 comments
  • Marissa Galván

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Are We More Devoted to Order Than To Justice?



I’ve been reading a book lately that I shared with the session and the leadership of the church . It’s called The Pentecost Paradigm: Ten Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation. In it, Jacqueline J. Lewis and John Janka wrote a sentence that caught my attention: “Any congregation—white, black or otherwise—that is ‘more devoted to order than to justice’ and disengaged from breaking down the dividing walls of hostility has lost its way.”


The phrase “more devoted to order than to justice” drew me in… because as a Presbyterian, I have heard the slogan “decently and in order” plenty of times. So I wanted to explore the invitation to look at the concepts of order and justice a little bit further.


That particular phrase was not written by the authors of the book, but by someone who has become more and more of a spiritual mentor of mine: Martin Luther King. His words seem to appear more and more lately in my own reflections as a Christian Presbyterian, especially when I see more and more people emphasizing our differences as markers of inferiority and unworthiness, or saying that we are a nation of "law and order" in order (redundancy implied) to oppress others that are different from the supposedly dominant culture.


In the Letter from a Birmingham Jail Dr. King writes: “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council of the Ku Klux Klan, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”


Jesus does things intentionally


As I look at Matthew 12: 1-14, I question what Jesus would have thought about moderate followers.


Here we have one of two Sabbath controversy stories, where Jesus is questioning what is lawful to do on a Sabbath and the relationship of humanity to the Sabbath.


What is the Sabbath? Remember that the Sabbath is a weekly day of rest or time of worship given in the Bible as the seventh day. The Ten Commandments prohibit doing any work on the Sabbath, and Jewish law prohibits doing any form of work on Shabbat. There are 39 categories of activity that the Talmud prohibits; things like… sowing, plowing, reaping, building, writing two or more letters, erasing two or more letters, demolishing, extinguishing a fire, or kindling a fire (no barbecues on the Sabbath).


So we find Jesus and the disciples, during a Sabbath day doing something they are not supposed to be doing: the disciples pluck some of the heads of grain, a practice that apparently was permitted to hungry travelers by the law. Then we read about some Pharisees confronting Jesus about the disciples' behavior, arguing that they were reaping on the Sabbath, in violation of the prohibition against work.


Jesus then decides to turn the tables on the Pharisees by mentioning one of the great men of Israel: King David. David had eaten the sacred bread of the temple when he was in need. If David could do that, his disciples could pluck the heads of grain. Done. Case closed. Jesus wins the argument.


Wendy Farley, a professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary, has a very interesting take on this passage. She starts by defending the Pharisees, saying that Jesus is intentionally provoking a confrontation. She says this story “is not about how urgent need permits us to break the rules.”


Then... what is it about? I believe that she has a point. This passage does not state that the disciples were hungry so the comparison to David does not ring true. And the other part of the passage where Jesus cures a man with a withered hand? She says Jesus could have waited until sundown.


She also states it would have been easy for Jesus and his disciples to honor the Sabbath… so that leaves the question... why does Jesus decide to violate a law that is part of the Ten Commandments and that has been ordained by God? Her answer is that “by refusing to observe conventions for honoring the Sabbath, Jesus invites us into a form of faith in which time-honored practices are relativized by healing power, compassion, and joy.” This conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees, she says “contrasts religion that hardens hearts with the gospel that opens hearts to the ubiquitous presence of God and gives birth to compassion and joy.”


A contrasting story


This passage is a story about contrasts. Jesus is questioning the very fabric of his religion and proposing a new way to do things. He proposes functioning out of grace, compassion and joy, and not out of rules and regulations… not out of order, but out of justice.


After all, Jesus’ conclusion to this argument is “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath. This is why the Human One is Lord even over the Sabbath.” If the Sabbath serves to oppress and to punish, then it loses its purpose and way.



Back to order and justice


As I look at the Christian family today… I wonder how this passage challenges us as Christians and as the body of Christ. As I said before, one of the things that I grew up within the church is that Presbyterians do things “decently and in order”. But if we look at Jesus, and what he does in this passage… I’m not sure that he was an “order” kind of guy. He was decent… and his decency leads him to challenge his followers to make sure that the laws that ruled their lives were more about compassion, grace, justice and human well being than about keeping order in the land.


I believe that Jesus was calling the Pharisees and those who followed him, to challenge values, laws, and lifestyles that enslaved, oppressed, punished and diminished their society. And that is what Jesus is calling us to do as the Church today. Going back to Martin Luther King… He said ““The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”


I'm not alone in this belief. There are a group of leaders that have felt the need to reclaim the Jesus that fought against systems that want to pass order as justice. Based on Jesus and his actions in passages like this… and on Martin Luther King’s words, a group of leaders from different churches decided to write a confession. They said “Our urgent need, in a time of moral and political crisis, is to recover the power of confessing our faith. Lament, repent, and then repair. If Jesus is Lord, there is always space for grace. We believe it is time to speak and to act in faith and conscience, not because of politics, but because we are disciples of Jesus Christ—to whom be all authority, honor, and glory.”


They may not include everyone that could be included... but their invitation rings true. We need to be a Church that does things decently and with justice, discerning carefully if the current law of the land is serving political and social agendas that are intended for oppression and destruction of "the other". Any law that incites fear, that does not show mercy, that is not measured by the grace shown by Jesus Christ, must be questioned and changed if need be. We have done this before. Jim Crow laws have been challenged and erased. Laws that sought to punish the Japanese people that lived for generations in the United States were challenged and changed. We are the conscience of the state. We are disciples of Jesus Christ... the same one that challenged the law and that opened the way to a new relationship with God and with one another.


3 views0 comments

© 2023 by Make Some Noise.

Proudly created with Wix.com