Continuing in our series, “What I am waiting for this Advent”, we have a poignant-yet-pointed submission by Vicar Sergio Edson Rodriguez. In a season where so many words like “joy,” “hope,” even “justice” are mere buzz-words used and abused by those whose lives aren’t dependent on their fulfillment, he scolds white progressive Christianity for commodifying these words just as the nation has commodified the holy season of Christmas. Yet, too, he speaks of God’s promise to defy every boundary and every border and every wall in our lives once and for all – and it is a vision perfectly in line with the impending arrival of el Dioscito, baby Jesus. Read, comment, and share!
Francisco Herrera – Ph.D. student, Interim Blog Editor
What am I waiting for this Advent?
Of course from the outset, this desire for maturity seems quite pedantic and fanciful as one does not simply wait for maturity to occur as a commodity but rather is inducted into a well-ripened openness to life. However, I feel quite justified in yearning for an existence that touches the core of all that is in the scope of this universe that is Dioscito’s. Too often, the openness to life, this acknowledgement of the pervading presence of God in our cosmos, is commodified in this particular season with clarion with calls to Christian generosity, or the so-called war on Christmas kind of culture, or secular consumerism. In all of these movements this season, openness to life means how disposed are you to stuff; stuff that people need, that people want, that define people.
If you want that sort of stuff, that’s fine and dandy but perhaps I might be quite persnickety in wanting more out of life than simply stuff and how that stuff makes me feel better about my circumstances. Rather, I want to be drawn into the core of life that God pours out into this world; that God suffers in this world; that God cries out with a joyful shout within this world filled with suffering, hopelessness, addiction, and pain.
I want to be open to seeing the face of God who has rushed head long into human existence and has made a home there. For God’s home is precisely in places where abundant life seems to eke out in glimpses of grace.
So, I propose for my own sanity this Advent/Christmas/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to center my anxiety driven search for maturity along several fins or if you prefer along several telos grounded in the mystery of this God who has decided to become un invitado to our fiesta that is life.
El Fin de Esperanza*
I hope for the end of Hope*.
We hope for a better tomorrow.
We hope for the day when God shall come again.
I hope that this line at Wal-Mart isn’t too long this Black Friday.
I find this word to be quite a vacuous sound in the ears of many who think that hope itself has become a place word for inactivity. That Hope itself is a word that is closed to the openness of life because it ultimately knows the end of the story; there’s a happily ever after; the end. It does not struggle with the ambiguities of this world mired with questions of food scarcity, intimate partner violence, mood disorders, and so on and so forth.
As a Latinx Vicar, I find this pie-in-the-sky hope to be insignificant in the realities of those who struggle to make ends meet, who find the deck stacked against them and who do not see the so-called Christian generosity towards the dregs of society as a sign of good-will towards humanity. It is this hope that must come to an end. The Parousia of the Son of Man (Matt 24:37) means for me the openness of time towards the uncertainty of God’s presence. This ends our hope for a fantastical reality to come. Instead, I find that the Parousia silences the inquietude of my anxious hope with the faint movement of God hovering, living, breathing into our most insignificant of realities. Esperanza ends where the darkness of the coming of God overshadows the ambiguities of this world.
El Fin del Siglo*
I anticipate the acabamiento of the age*. Unto the ages of ages. World without end. The end of our play. Fin. There’s this buzz word that is so common amongst theologians and seminarians as almost to make it synonymous with some form of theological schooling; prolepsis: the in-breaking of the Kingdom upon this earth has been proleptically seen and tasted on the cross and from the cross. Frankly, I find this particular word to be lacking all sort of vibrancy and dynamic engagement with the realities of what it means to be church today. Prolepsis conveys a sterile almost pharmacological notion that undermines the passion, the gusto, the flavor of life itself in favor of a more rigid construction of western liturgical tastes. I find that prolepsis, while helpful in explicating one’s position on paper, needs to be fine-tuned to how it appears in the life of people who need to hear this dimension shattering reality.
As a Latinx Lutheran, why must I wait for full reconciliation to occur in the distant future?
Why are there only glimpses of the future when we need Christ and Christ’s kingdom now to topple over the sin of this age that enslaves folx to shackles of hatred, greed and profit? When John the Baptist chastises the Pharisees and Sadducees, he paints a picture of the shifting of weights in the balance of God’s refining presence (Matt 3:10); God’s ax is swinging now, the fruits are ripe now, let the fire burn. El siglo ends not as a visage of things to come but in the fires of a God who’s presence is a swinging ax and a refining fire.
El Fin de Justicia*
I yearn for the conclusion of Justice*. Liberty and justice for all. Law and Order. Social justice. Above all the words I have thus uttered, I yearn with the passion of a thousand suns for this word to finally be put to rest. Rather than produce actual substantive changes that one could touch, taste, disfrutar, justice stands currently as a litmus test within the church as a marker of true prophetic zeal and of the advent of a younger more progressive leadership. How loud, often and strongly one clamors for justice is often the sign of someone who’s got it going on in the more white progressive circle of Lutheranism.
What will endure after the last poster of protest is thrown into the recycle bin or the latest Instagram Photo clamoring for justice is scrolled by fingers twitching for more images to appease its very hunger for feel-good moments? Seeing, walking, cleansing hearing, raising, bringing, Jesus paints us an image of a reality that moves and shakes the very foundation of a world mired in brokenness and oppression. He wasn’t just shouting for a world to be turned upside down but for the very lives of people to be made anew. Let us see, walk, be cleansed, hear, be raised and be brought into God’s world that abides against the tides of death. Hay vida! Hay amor! Hay gozo! Asi termina la justicia.
El Fin de Manana*
I wait for tomorrow to cease* and for the day to endure. Growing up, I hated saying hasta luego to all my family members at the wee hours of the morning as our family fiestas came to a close. In my heart, I ached with an unease about the whole affair because deep inside mi ser, I had to confront the mundane hours of the coming day. The world seemed to spin on an endless axis of ends; the end of good times, of life, of relationships, of convivir, of loves.
What I felt then I know now to be true that the weight of this cycle of life and death, togetherness and separateness, has given way to a more enduring time. “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus…they shall name him Emmanuel”(Matthew 1:23).
From the darkness of the womb, the mystery of the endless convivir in the midst of pain and suffering that is Dioscito with us is made manifest. El Fin de Manana comes not in a day of cataclysmic bang but in the birth pangs of life.
Sergio Rodriguez is a word and sacrament candidate in the Southwestern Texas Synod and is a M.Div student at Wartburg Theological Seminary. Currently, he is a Synodically Authorized Minister at St. Paul’s Square Ministries (St. Paul Lutheran-Karnes City; St. Paul Lutheran-Nordheim).
 A vernacular expression common in Mexican-American communities with many meanings. Combining the Spanish word for God – Dios – with the suffix –ito suggesting something intimate or small, it can either be an way of saying “God” that is more gentle and familiar, or is also at times used to express the baby Jesus, the sweet and tender “little” God.
 fin – “end” in Spanish.
 telos – Greek for “end” or “conclusion/culmination.”
 invitado – a guest, literally “invited one”.
 fiesta – party/festival/celebration.
 In the following sections – subtitles ending with an * will be followed with their translations immediately afterwards, also marked with an *
 Latinx – a contemporary way to say a word commonly used to describe people in the United States who are descended from the peoples of Latin America, Latina/Latino, but ending it with an ‘x’ so as to be inclusive of non-binary people, as well as more generally gender-inclusive.
 esperanza – hope.
 acabamiento – the termination or end of.
 disfrutar – to enjoy.
 Spanish – “There is light! There is love! There is Life! That’s how justice ends!”
 hasta luego – “see you later”.
 mi ser – my being.
 convivir – living together.