Advent: Time to be on the margins and to cross frontiers
By Eunice Arias & Luis Aramayo
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
Once again Advent "is" here, time originally dedicated to revision of life and preparation&ellipsis;not for Christmas holidays but for Christ's Second Coming, the fulfillment of the Reign of God. It is a time for us to affirm with hope against all hopelessness our decision to follow Jesus, the Christ.
How can we affirm this commitment? What is God's message for us today? While talking about local and national events and making of plans for a family meeting with Luis' brother and sister whom for the first time will travel out of Bolivian borders, we "discover" that Advent is also a time to cross frontiers. And not only frontiers because frontiers are usually related with "margin" and "border". To live in the margin, to look from the margins, to suffer in and from the margin, to be pushed to the margins, to be marginalized is an experience for millions around the Americas and the world; an experience that has death as a sign. Limits imposed by borders of all kinds affect people's lives and consequently the present and future life of all creation.
INTEGRACIÓN COMUNAL (Community Integration), the neighborhood where we served during this year, is at the frontier: it is in the middle of Maracaibo city but its inhabitants are in the margin of the resources needed to have a dignified life and many are the borders and frontiers between them and the Reign of God. We may think that having a roof over our heads is enough to have a house, but it doesn't guarantee a HOME. It may seem enough to have enough money to prepare the "arepas" (Venezuelan "tortillas", basic food), but it doesn't allow people the access to a good and total health. These are some of the frontiers and borders and barriers here (and sadly all around the world): domestic violence, addiction to drugs-alcohol, organized crime, corruption, lies, envy, abandonment, intolerance, discrimination and more. These and other frontiers and barriers prevent God's perfect will "become flesh" for our brothers and sisters at Integración Comunal and they block divine love and mercy to flow everywhere.
For many years ?and even today- the understanding has been that to be a "missionary" or to work "in mission" is a geographical matter or it is to go or to be in the "mission field". Even more, "missionary action" was that one going from the rich or developed or "civilized" countries to the poor or "underdeveloped" or "primitive" ones. Thank to God's Spirit inspiration and to many Jesus Christ's Gospel faithful women and men around the world we are transforming our reductionist interpretation of Gospel-Church and Mission. As Methodist we are engaged in restoring one of the central affirmations we inherited from the Primitive Church and the Protestant Reform: the universal ministry of all the Christians. It doesn't matter where you are: all and every follower of Christ is important and precious in God's Mission. And every time is a proper time and every place is the best place to announce that God's love doesn't accept frontiers, nor borders, nor margins!
Today God invites you and us to live this Advent time loving, making us vulnerable, going to the margins of our societies, crossing frontiers so we may be close to those who are kept out, tearing down all kind of barriers giving justice actions an opportunity to announce God's peace, peace without frontiers, borders or margins because it will cover all the world, all creation, "as the waters cover the sea".
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say (to the world),
"Your God reigns!"
With love, in Christ's love,
Eunice Arias & Luis Aramayo, missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries serving in Venezuela
--Eunice Arias - Advance Support # 13092 Z
--Luis Aramayo - Advance Support # 13106 Z
el Intéprete Online, noviembre-diciembre, 2010