Crucifixion by Patricia Brintle

Kindred in Christ,

As we reflect on God’s solidarity with our experiences of human pain and oppression this Good Friday, I want to offer you some reimagined lyrics to the old hymn, “Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when justice was ignored?

Oh, the thought makes me tremble…

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there that day on Calvary?

Were you there when he whispered, “I can’t breathe.”

Oh, it causes me to tremble…

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when the cops shot him in the street?

Oh, it causes me to tremble…

Were you there when they pierced him on his side?

Were you there when the AAPI community cried?

Oh, it causes me to tremble…

Were you there when the spa became a tomb?

Oh, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…

 

– Rev. Paul Ortiz

Art from Guatemala

Kindred in Christ,

Have you ever been so sure that you knew what was going to happen, that when it did happen, you almost missed it entirely because things didn’t go the way you had imagined?

Like when my daughter was so sure that her flu shot was going to hurt that she cried and wailed until we told her, “Hey, it’s already over!” And then she composed herself and said, “Oh, I didn’t even feel it.”

Or like the time I proposed to my now spouse, Kim, during the month of October with a bunch of carved pumpkins spelling out “will you marry me?”.  And her first response was, “Wait? What? Now? Here?!” Thankfully, she eventually said “yes.”

As we enter into Holy Week, we are reminded that with Jesus things are never as we would anticipate, and that to be open to God requires us to be open to the unexpected. Regarding Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, author and activist, Shane Claiborne writes, “As Jesus rode a donkey into Passover, it was a lampoon of power, political parody at its best. Kings didn’t ride donkeys. They rode war horses with an entourage of soldiers. It would have been like the president riding a unicycle to their inauguration.”

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate Palm Sunday and explore what it means to put our expectations aside in order for them not to get in the way of the new thing God is doing in our present. See you on Facebook Live!

Alongside you,

-Rev. Paul Ortiz

Jesus’ Baptism by He Qi

Kindred in Christ,

This week we were reminded that white supremacy, patriarchy, and purity culture kill and destroy and cause so much pain in our world, especially to our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander siblings.

This week we were reminded that young white men are being shaped by the false discipleship of racism and sexism inside churches that worship gun and country over Jesus.

This week I grieved deeply with my Asian family members and friends. And I was personally reminded of the great need to commit to learning from AAPI histories, leadership, and creativity, and to practice imperfectly, but with consistency, solidarity with all those who seek an end to the powers and principalities that create the conditions of the violence we witnessed in Atlanta.

This week I meditated on the story of Jesus’ baptism, and the fact that in those waters he heard a voice telling him he was fully seen and beloved by God. Even in the face of evil systemic forces, such as white supremacy, that try to erase our AAPI siblings, God sees each of us fully, and empowers us all to see one another fully, and to work toward ending anti-Asian racism.

May we continue to grieve and lift up our pain to a God who draws near to the brokenhearted and speaks liberation to our weariness and grants us eyes to see one another more fully.

Alongside you,

– Rev. Paul Ortiz

Kindred in Christ,

Have you ever gone to therapy or a support group to help you work through grief or pain in your life? As healing has these spaces have been for me, they often cause me to look at (or pick up) unpleasant aspects of my life that I would like to otherwise ignore. Yet the reality is that to completely ignoring my pain and grief is not healthy. And it is quite healing to eventually bring these aspects of my experience to the light and receive guidance regarding what to do with my human pain.

It is likely that you have, at one point or another, heard of Jesus’ famous call to “pick up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:21-28). Unfortunately, this saying has been misused by some throughout history to justify human oppression and abuse. This interpretation suggests that when we see people in pain, “well, it is just their cross to bear”—as if Jesus was handing out suffering to people. Tragically, this interpretation not only leads to complacency in the midst of injustice, but it completely misses the radical call of Jesus’ invitation into discipleship.

Jon Sobrino, as well as other liberation theologians, suggest that “Jesus is not handing out crosses as a price to follow him,” rather, “Jesus is shows us what to do with the crosses [human suffering] that we already have.” Thus, Jesus joins us in our struggle, invites us to walk alongside him and others in solidarity, and guides us all. It is also important to ask, where is Jesus leading us towards as we follow him? It is not towards more crosses (for we already have those in our broken world), but it is toward liberation and resurrection!

Lent, in many ways, is like a support group with God and community. Lent invites us to pick up those painful aspects of our human existence that we would otherwise ignore. Lent also offers us needed guidance with what to do with the human pain, which would eat away at us if we had not brought them to the light. If we allow ourselves to be open to Jesus, we can carry our burdens in the context of community toward collective healing and restoration. Join us this Sunday as we reflect on this and more by continuing in our Lenten worship series, The Path Back to You. I hope to see you on FB Live!

Alongside you,

– Rev. Paul Ortiz

Kindred in Christ,

After having many meaningful conversations about our new logo and creative branding, I want to post about the meaning behind the new image here:

Our new logo came out of deep reflection upon our current community, as well as who we are called to become. The crisp and colorful shards intentionally resemble stained glass windows common in sanctuaries and other contemplative spaces. The array of colors encompass the totality of the liturgical calendar. And the variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of each of the pieces that comprise the whole represent the diverse community we will become. This is all held within a triadic-flame, which is a symbol for the triune God. It is a dynamic image, one that is intended to evoke holy passion and creativity.

May we live into all that our new logo represents and more!

Alongside you,

– Rev. Paul Ortiz