Today we worshiped at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in San Salvador, where Bishop Medardo Gomez presides. In addition to worship, we witnessed a rite of confirmation for four people – three adults and one youth, and also a quinceanero – a rite of blessing for a young woman on her fifteenth birthday. It was a blessing to worship with our sisters and brothers during their weekly service.
One of the most interesting elements of our visit to Resurrection was the chance to view the Subversive Cross. This is a cross – about five or six feet tall – that was displayed in the church during the civil war. On the cross the people of the congregation had boldy written various sins, particularly related to the injustices and suffering of the civil war. One day soldiers came looking for Bishop Gomez – an outspoken critique of the government and the war – but they couldn´t find him. However, they came across the cross, and they took it from the church and placed the cross in a prison cell, where it remained for a few years. For more detail, visit this page (hosted by St John´s Lutheran, Brookfield, WI) dedicated to the Subversive Cross. On this page you can find links to more information about the Lutheran Church in El Salvador.
In addition to worship – during which visitng clergy (Pastor Mike and I included) were called on to assist with the distribution of communion – we enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant (ironic, perhaps) and visited the chapel where Archbishop Oscar Romero was assasinated while saying Mass. We were blessed to speak with a sister who was in attendance at the Mass when he was killed. From her witness, and from the testimony that we can hear and see during our travels, it is clear that though Monsenior died, his memory, his work, his vision continues to live in the people, particularly in the poor and those who live and work in solidarity with the poor.
Finally, we visited a memorial wall for victims of the civil war. Very similar to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, this wall is impressive in that it has a similar amount of names, but for a country the size of New Jersey at war with itself. What moved me the most was the list of towns – 142, I thnk – that suffered massacres. A few of the towns had ++ next to their names, meaning that there were two massacres in that town in the year listed.
Guiding throughout the day, and yesterday, is Pastor Norma of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador. She has been an amazing guide and not only a font of information, but a comassionate and passionate voice speaking in support of the poor, the powerless, the suffering. I was most impressed by her ability to speak with respect yet strong critique about the US government, which played a huge role in supporting the military government which inflicted such pain on the people.
Perhaps I´ll write more this evening, but perhaps not. It has been a long few days, and I think I´m hitting a wall – not only from the exhaustion of our travels, but also from the fatigue of constantly translating, from being out of a familiar environment, and from missing my wife and kids. This is the first time in our marriage, I think, that we have gone 48 hours without speaking. Oh, I miss them dearly. They are in Boston right now, and I hope that they are safe and having a good time visiting with family.
Blessings to you. For our friends and families back at home reading, we miss you. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as you are in ours.
Peace to you.