On our first evening at Casa Las Magnolias, we gathered on the terrace with the twinkling vista of San Salvador spread out below us. Our lesson was Isaiah 6:8-13, and we struggled with passages like Tell the people to be ever hearing, but never understanding… Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes…
We struggled because it seemed obvious to us that we would WANT people to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, turn and be healed.
But at hearing the question: Why do you think you were called to come to El Salvador this year? Many of us were clear: We came to see our friend Christian Chavarría Ayala ordained.
Two days later, we squeezed into La Resurrección for the dedication of the new cathedral building, a place that began in 1982 as a school then a clinic, and the ordination of Christian and 13 other pastors.
As we sat thigh-to-thigh or stood leaning against walls or peered through the chicken wire stretched over the windows, God’s spirit was seen, heard, and felt.
We heard it in the story of the people who were kidnapped by the Death Squad, sent into exile or jail. We felt it in the presence of the Lutheran bishops as well as the Catholic archbishop. And we saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16, Luke 3:22) fly into the sanctuary at key moments.
The dove first appeared during the bishop’s sermon. It flew in through the door and rested in an alcove above the altar as Bishop Medardo Goméz spoke of this place, built on God and for God, for a mere $26,000 and mostly volunteer labor. Indeed, although it still needs windows and doors, a few loose ends tightened, La Resurrección is a miracle in the spirit of trust in the Lord.
During the ordination, the dove returned again as the new pastors were given their stoles, green for Pentecost, and thus accepted their yoke of responsibility. It returned as they were given their plain wooden crosses and their Bibles. It flew in again to confirm the bishop’s pronouncement: “You are now with the Lord.”
Los Consagración de Presbiteros(as) included men and women of varying experiences and ages: Belinda Fernández, Wilber Franciso Carrillos, José David Medrano García, Margarita Moreno, Ivonn Jiménez, Ivomne Turcios de Pacheco, Cruz Calles, Christian Chavarría, Arisbé Abelina Gómez Centeno, Cinthia Fernández de Jonke, Alcides Abarca, Atilio Martínez López, Gloria de Orantes, Martina Arévalo.
Indeed, out of the ruins of the cities, the houses left deserted, the fields ruined and ravaged, and the land utterly forsaken, the Salvadoran Lutheran Church has become the holy seed that grows into the stump in the land. From the devastation of the civil war through today, it acts as a powerful symbol of change and empowerment of people as it continues to support the children, fight for minimum wage, and protect the waters.
And now there are 14 newly ordained pastors, each bringing his or her vision to the people.
Submitted by Karen J. Cantrell