DISMANTLING STRUCTURAL RACISM  |  COVID-19 RESPONSE  |  PSF TEAM LETTERS
This year has been like no other for all of us. It has been a long season of protest and revelation—a time for reflection, discernment, and discovery. We have also experienced tumultuous, dislocating circumstances in both our inner and outer worlds. Yet, we have also encountered times for rejoicing and celebration.

What seems to resonate throughout these times is God’s transformative action for us and Creation, ever-present in our longing and our listening, in anticipation of the return of Christ who will come as our Savior and liberator to make all things new. It is during these times that we hold fast to our traditions, carrying them forward with us, embracing and honoring them as reminders of how God’s unfailing love has accompanied us throughout our life stories.

We pray that our journey together this Advent season will serve as a sacred reminder of the hope, peace, love, and joy that awaits us always.

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23rd
Luke 1:46b-55; Mark 11:1-11

God chose to incarnate among us as Holy King, but not in a palace of privilege and excess. God chose to dwell among humanity, but not an heir of material riches; rather, coming as a babe born to a poor virgin girl and into a life of challenge and struggle. Perhaps the sacredness of her time with child girded Mary from judging eyes and prying tongues until the born day. No royal processional or baby shower, no birth dulahs and nursemaids; rather, the arduous travel in the hill country and birth in a cattle trough of a Bethlehem manger. The Hallelujah chorus was not sung to a festooned ticketed audience but to humble shepherds. For unto you a babe is born – Emmanuel!

Hark the Herald angels sing – Glory to the newborn king! God chose not the easy path to help us comprehend the gift and depth of eternal love while humanity preoccupied itself with census compliance for oppressive tax levies… Instead – a paranoid despot, in fear that this newborn king posed a threat, exacted genocide and plunged the region into mourning. Instead – forced exile to Egypt to flee genocide was the first sign that amnesty to immigrants should not be barred by erected walls and ICE deportation. Jesus, Judeo-Palestinian, emigrated back into a society that disdained his pedigree (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”) and rejected his spiritual legacy (“Who are you?”).

What have we learned this Advent season? As divine will, the divinely perfect chose to enter our lives amid all our imperfections – to show us the perfection embodied in Jesus as God incarnate, the Prince of Peace – Emmanuel! How is it that humanity still preoccupies itself with oppressive forces and still ignores the poor. Instead – can we seek the Giver of Life? Can we dare to proclaim peace, hope, joy and love amid the briars of hateful separatism? Can we raise up the miracle in a manger to boldly proclaim that elitism is not the will of our Holy Creator of justice? Mary believed and birthed Jesus Christ who calls us into a kin-dom of the living God. Hallelujah for hope! Hallelujah for faith! Hallelujah – Jesus lives…

Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble is an Associate Professor of Ministerial Leadership & Practical Theology at Berkeley School of Theology. She is also an interim Pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church Oakland.

MONDAY, December 21st
Luke 1:46b-55

“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.”

Mary said, “Yes.”

In her Magnifcat filled with praise and promise, she said “yes” to all that God was birthing in her because she knew that her extravagant “yes” would unleash liberation upon the world.

The weekend following the murder of George Floyd, I marched in a protest through the streets of San Francisco. We marched past City Hall, past the police station, past the court house, and eventually down to the water.

Written on signs and shouted in chants, I saw and heard the cries of “No!”:
“No justice, no peace!”
“No racist police!”
“No more death!”
“No silence!”
“No words.”

These were the cries of people who had had enough and were screaming from the bottom of their bellies, “No more! Enough!” But woven into those cries was also a resounding “Yes!”

A “yes” to a world where our economic, political, and social systems of privilege are dismantled.
A “yes” to a world where the lowly are lifted up and the hungry are filled.
A “yes” to a world where Black lives truly matter.

At the center of those cries of protest was a blazing desire for a world that can and must be different.

During this Advent season, we must live in and act from that bottom-of-the-belly, Spirit-born space of “Yes!” We must connect with our deepest desire for liberation, not just as an idea, but as tangible, enfleshed, hope-filled vision of what could be.

Audre Lorde, the Black, queer, womanist writer and warrior against the injustices of the world, calls desire (or the erotic) “the personification of love in all its aspects, born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony.” She writes this about our relationship—particularly women’s relationship—with desire:

“We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world…”

We mustn’t be afraid of the power of our “Yes!”.

A “yes” is risky. A “yes” takes courage. A “yes” means work must be done.

But as Mary shows us, there is an extravagant joy in “yes,” and it is the joy of a liberated world.

God of Liberation, may we desire You. As we journey toward Christmas, may your Holy Spirit fuel our desire for justice and equity in our communities, our neighborhoods, and our world. May we say “Yes!” to the world you desire for us. Amen.

Sam Lundquist is the Pastoral Assistant at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. He is dedicated to reimagining Christian worship and community in the City. Find him online at samlundquist.com.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20th
Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.

I love Mary. Every single one of her reactions is so relatable and yet so aspirational. Not only does she model authenticity and humility, but also great courage and faith.

Let’s start with Gabriel’s greeting. When the angel approaches her with a compliment and a blessing, she reacts with genuine confusion. “Who me? Are you talking to me?” She is obviously surprised to be the recipient of a visit from one of God’s angels, but she stays and listens thoughtfully to what Gabriel has to say.

And Gabriel has something to say.

First, the angel tells Mary that she has found favor with the God of her ancestors. That right there would be enough to stop her in her tracks, but when Gabriel adds that she will carry the Christ child in her womb, Mary inquires about logistics.

Her responses up until that point probably resemble how most of us would have reacted in her shoes. Incredulity. Curiosity. Disbelief. Ordinary human responses to an extraordinary divine decree.

It is what Mary says in the end that completely blows my mind. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

It is entirely possible and likely that the Gospel writer has condensed this conversation for the sake of transmission. Maybe Mary had more words with Gabriel. Maybe she pushed back harder. Regardless, she accepted God’s call on her life in that moment. She didn’t run away, mull over it, consult a few experts, run some numbers, and return with an answer. She believed. She obeyed. She stepped out in faith.

In this season of waiting, God calls us to do the same. With the promise of a Savior from the most high God, my prayer for all of us is that we channel the courage and chutzpah of Mary, mother of God. Like Mary, may we believe that God is at work in our world, and in believing, may we obey what God is calling us to, and in obeying, may we step out in faith trusting in the One whose kingdom has no end.

God of the Possible and Impossible, In response to good news anywhere and everywhere, may we be open to what you are revealing to us. Help us honor and respond to the places you are calling us to go and the people you are calling us to serve, this day and every day. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Charlene Han Powell is the Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. Prior to serving at First Pres Berkeley, Charlene was the Executive Pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. Originally from the East Bay, Charlene and her husband, Jordan, have two daughters, Amelie and Noa.

 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18th
Psalm 89:1-4

This is my wife and I favorite time of the year, but this year feels different. Let’s just be honest, it is. As a African-American male this Advent season takes on a different tone. As a matter of fact I need it to be more significant. We celebrate the soon coming Christ who will break-in and be present with us. I need Advent to be about both reaching back toward the coming of the Christ child and reaching forward toward the story of Christ coming again.

2020 has been difficult but God has the final say. It’s deeply important that we understand the radical meaning of Jesus’ birth as an event destined not just to culminate in a sacrifice for personal atonement and reconciliation, but also to radically transform the earth with LOVE.

Into the midst of these unsettled time, struggling through COVID, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, God’s love continues to manifest and break these walls down. We have to own that standard, normative, historic, so-called orthodox Christian theology has been a theology of empire, a theology of colonialism, a theology that powerful people used as a tool to achieve and defend land theft, slavery, exploitation, domination, superiority, and privilege.

This love that Jesus brings, dismantles and disrupts all these idols. God’s love showed up at rallies, Gods love is showing up in the streets standing against white supremacy. Love breaks through the silence.

I can hear MLK Jr. singing, like the sacred poet, affirming his belief in the faithfulness of the Lord to his covenant,

Psalm 89:1
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.

Dearest God,
We stand before You because we must.
We stand before You because
truths that should be self-evident
are not so evident in our country.
And so we turn to You to breathe
ever more of Your Spirit into us
because we find we cannot breathe,
The arms of society are wrapped around our throats
As we call out for justice.
We call to you to continue to disrupt our lives
With your love
In the midst of unsettles times we wait patiently,
for you to come
We pray to you because,
as our prophets have taught us:
human suffering anywhere
concerns men and women everywhere.
where every Black man, woman, and child is
exploited, where there is privilege, and superiority.
We shout to the Heavens with one, unified voice:
Black. Lives. Matter.
Come Lord Jesus

Reverend Kirk Davis gave his life to Christ in 1981. Born, raised and baptized at Providence Baptist Church. He was ordained at Neighborhood Baptist Church in 1989 under Pastor Peter Williams, Sr. Pastor Kirk has been married to his wife Denise for 35-yrs and they have 3 children, Destini (30), Curtis (27) and Isaiah (21). Kirk leads Kairos San Francisco—an NWC of the Presbytery of SF. Kairos is an experimental community pursuing change in the church and mission in the world. We are community of purpose for which we exist to encourage, educate, empower, and equip people to be catalyst in helping their communities. A place for innovative ideas, deep leadership community, and fearless pursuit of Jesus and his cause. I’m a Pastor, Leader, Influencer, Reconciler, Hip Hop Theologian, Author and Warriors Fan, Lover of Bayview/Hunters Point.

 
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16th
Psalm 125; Malachi 3: 16-4: 6; Mark 9: 9-13

We are living in difficult times, times of anguish, affliction, crisis and great stress. We see all this reflected not only in what happens around us; but if we are good observers, we realize that in many people’s faces there is a reflection of a lot of anxiety, pain, worry and stress.

The news overwhelms us and fills us with more concern as it is very, very discouraging. However, in the midst of everything that happens around us, in the midst of the storm and in the midst of the tribulation that the children of God are experiencing, we recognize that Jesus our Savior came to rescue us. To rescue us from what? From hatred, from pain, from revenge, from folly, from racism that we are living daily, from social injustice, from the evil that has arisen lately and that has greatly devastated the entire world.

The good news is that Jesus came to our troubled hearts and to give us peace to reassure us that also this shall pass. The words that stand out from Psalm 125: 2, “The Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore” come alive in our lives. Especially now that we are living in uncertainty and experiencing the movements that have emerged such as “Black Lives Matter” to remind us that it is our truly God who is going to embrace us now and forever as his treasure possession. Therefore, he will be in charge of providing us with peace in the midst of the storm, to calm down our anxieties, to be the balm and comfort for our pain and brokenness, justice in the midst of injustice, transformation, renewal and restoration of a life that has been broken but that only God the great I AM can change. It is a reminder that we all matter to God as well.

God continues to manifest himself in these times of change for the country and society in general. We see him in the midst of the pandemic, in the midst of his church that has risen like the sun whose rays emanate the splendorous light illuminating our walk in the darkness of this world. The image of the sun of righteousness helps us to trust him more because he is providing us with the healing that humanity is crying out for (Malachi 4: 2).

Jesus, in this Advent came to raise us from death, pain, sin, and give us life in abundance (Mark 9:10). Jesus came to heal our hearts, breakdowns, physical and emotional illnesses so that as his children we can remain united as his people, as one regardless of race, color or sex; because then my siblings, we will all be together in heaven worshiping him, as one body.

Almighty and eternal God, may you be exalted forever, because you are great and sovereign. We ask that you continue to remind us in this season of Advent that you are the sun of righteousness and that you have come to heal our hearts from any kind of pain, anxiety, anguish or tribulation. Help us to remember that it was through the glorious coming of your Son, Jesus Christ that we have been resurrected together with Christ and that we no longer live but Christ lives in us. Thank you for your glorious coming into our lives. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Ana Espinoza-Gherardi Ana is originally from El Salvador, Central America. She arrived in the United States more than 15 years ago, married to David Gherard and together they have a 4 year-old named David Matthew. Member of Latinos Unidos en Cristo where during Rev. Daniel Beteta’s retirement, she became the pastor in transition for 2 years and now serves as pulpit supply when needed. She studied her Master’s degree in Divinity at the Fuller Theological Seminary (144 units) and graduated in May of 2018. In November of 2018, she also completed her ordination process with the Presbyterian Church. Currently, she is teaching theology in ELET (School of Theological Studies) located in El Cerrito, California. She became a COM member in November 2020 and applied for the 2021-22 CPE residency at Stanford Hospital. Ana also is attentive and awaiting for God’s call to serve in a Presbyterian church.

 
MONDAY, DECEMBER 14th
Psalm 125:1 – 2

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

As we anticipate and celebrate the coming of the Lord, born to save God’s people from our sinful selves, we focus on the events that have transpired this past year. Events that could have shaken our faith. I can imagine as George Floyd lay dying with a police officer’s knee on his neck draining his life, he might have thought, “Where is God?” I imagine Breonna Taylor, who was shot as she slept, did not have time for such a thought. Since we don’t know the mind of God, but we have faith through Jesus Christ, we believe that everything will be alright. We have had time to contemplate these events in light of God’s gift of Jesus Christ because Jesus brings us hope for a more peaceful time. Hope for a time of renewed love for all humankind. Hope for a time when those who would do us harm, will choose to live in harmony with us. We, like the psalmist in today’s scripture, cannot be shaken. We have endured, knowing that we are protected. We are surrounded by the love of Christ. Therefore, we look to Christ’s coming with jubilant expectation of that joyous time of harmony among all God’s people. Let us join together in spreading Jesus’ light in the world. It is a light of hope, peace, and joy that all who see it might be illuminated in their hearts and minds to seek His grace in this time of unrest in our communities and world. My hope and wish for you is peace and joy during this Advent season.

Father God, You who created this world as a good place; You who gave your son Jesus as an atonement for our sins; You who loves us all as your children; we thank You for this Advent season with all the undeserved blessings You have bestowed upon us and ask your grace and mercy upon us all. Help all of us to be the kind of people You would have us be — loving, gracious, just and kind to each other. We know how to show grace and mercy toward each other and when we forget, we ask your forgiveness. As we look forward to the coming of your son Jesus, help us to be bold when we are faced with uncomfortable situations of racial injustice, to speak up and stand up for what is right in your sight. Help us to be more Christ-like in all our actions so His light in our hearts will shine in a world of darkness. This we humbly pray in the name of our lord and savior Jesus who art the Christ. Amen

Mary Jane Gordon is a commissioned ruling elder from Ingleside Presbyterian church currently serving as Co-Moderator of the Presbytery of San Francisco. She serves on the Mission Vision and Leadership Committee and Meetings Committee, is a liaison to the Personnel Committee and serves on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board.

 
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13th
Psalm 126:4-6
“Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.”

For many of us, 2020 has been a year full of grief.

We grieve the deaths of over 260,000 people from a pandemic that exposes the devastating cost of choosing individual freedom over collective good. We grieve the countless heroes and icons who have passed. We grieve our nation’s political dysfunction- the rampant disinformation, demonization and polarization, the blatant legacy of white supremacy and racism. We grieve the fact that our Black siblings cannot breathe or live freely in this country without fearing violence and death. We grieve for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Anthony McClain, Walter Wallace, and countless others whose lives all mattered.

The grief is overwhelming.

Yet Psalm 126 reminds us of the good news of our tears. For a people experiencing the pangs of exile, our tears remind us that things are not as they should be. They remind us of the deep dissatisfaction we feel with our world. And they move us- from a place of being placated by the status quo of Empire- to a place of sowing the seeds of a new reality.

Our grief leads to growth.
Our dissatisfaction sparks holy imagination.
Our weeping holds the promise of being turned into joy.

So in this Advent season, amidst an unprecedented year, how can we embrace the gift of our tears? How can we pay attention to seeds of new life contained within our grief? As we mourn the world exposed by 2020, crying out for God’s restoration, may we never forget who our God is – a God who restores the fortunes of God’s people- time and time again.

May you keep sowing in tears, knowing that the harvest of joy will come in God’s time.

Closing Blessing:

May God bless you this Advent with the holy gift of tears-
Tears that push you to sow seeds of justice,
To not grow weary of doing good
To keep loving all God brings you way
To keep dreaming of a world free from Empire,
And to make way for the coming of New Creation.
In the hope of Christ we pray, Amen.

I would also like to share a song that Michael Kim-Eubanks wrote for these times:

Erina Kim-Eubanks – CLP – Bethel Community Presbyterian Church
Erina Kim-Eubanks is a 2nd generation Korean American who has worked at the intersection of faith, justice, and anti-racism for over 15 years. She has provided leadership in a variety of contexts, ranging from college campuses, to prisons, to middle schools, to churches. She currently serves as a Commissioned Lay Pastor at Bethel Community Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in San Leandro, where she strives to cultivate a spiritual community of resistance and renewal that is faithful to the radical Way of Jesus.

 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11th
Read Psalm 126, Habakuk 3:2-6, and Philippians 3:12-16

Psalm 126
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

The NRSV translates the opening lines of Psalm 126 in the past tense. “When the Lord restored our fortunes, we were like those who dream…..”

The Hebrew could also be translated in a way to suggest it hasn’t yet happened. Here is Robert Alter’s translation of the opening lines:

When the LORD restores Zion’s fortunes, we should be like dreamers. Then will our mouth fill with laughter and our tongue with glad song. Then will they say in the nations: “Great things has the LORD done with these.” We shall rejoice.1

His translation reminds me that the verbs of my life are also sometimes fluid in their tense. Some days I feel restored. Other days, I feel sorely in need of restoration. Some days I can easily dream of a future with hope. Other days, I long to trust in dreams I haven’t yet dreamt. We live in the in between, the both/and.

We are in Advent, preparing for a world that has already been restored and still needs to be restored as we can see it in our dreams.

We proclaim Black Lives Matter because we believe both that God has already proclaimed it and that we still have work to do so that the dreams of justice, safety, and peace for black lives will be visible and manifest in the world around us.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, about our in between status too. “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own… forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal… .”

Theologically, we may be in an in between time our whole lives long. And that kind of waiting is okay. But black lives are dying while we wait, are cut off from equal protection while we wait, are facing systemic discrimination and oppression while we wait.

Let us pray:

O Lord, we have heard of your renown, and we stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known;

As we claim Black Lives Matter, we commit to working to bring your dreams to the reality of our lives. Forgive us for our complacency, for our willingness to wait without action and to hope without consequence. Revive us, that we may press on toward the goal.

As the psalmist reminds us,
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

May we commit to turning our dreams into action, that we can all be bringing in the sheaves of God’s justice, mercy, and peace for all people. Amen.

Marci Auld Glass is the Pastor/Head of Staff at Calvary Presbyterian in San Francisco. She is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. She and her husband Justin have two grown sons, Alden and Elliott. She is the Co-Moderator of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and the Chair of the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood Federation.

1 Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (New York: W.W. Norton & Co.), p. 447.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9th
Psalm 27:6
“Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord”

Where to Look

I’ve been looking down more often these days—it seems safer than having to see the world that wants to break open my heart. But in doing this, is it that I’m avoiding the suffering that others endure daily? Or is it to avoid the suffering that is to be done to me? I’ve come to understand that it’s the latter and that I’m required, compelled to be broken open. Mind you, I’m not promoting suffering in the ascetic sense nor the way of flagellants during Plague (or COVID in present day)! But to be human, one must see the world around them. And to be a part of humanity — we must see, feel and carry these sacrificial gifts — body and soul — to the altar for each other.

It is here where I start. I will look up and always remember that God loves me. I accept that the wounds will be painful, but if I live in God while carefully exploring the dark parts of my being and the world — I know union with Him is at hand. I’ll trust that in this journey I will find healing and create a space for light to enter. This space will be the cradle of my heart — where I wait for Christ to be born.

The Servant of Unity

Most men in power have not the strength or wisdom to be satisfied with the way things are.

The sane know contentment, for beauty is their lover,
and beauty is never absent from this world.

The further away light is from one’s touch
the more one naturally speaks of the need for change,

Yes, overthrow any government inside that makes you weep.

The child blames the external and focuses his energy there;
the warrior conquers the realms within and becomes gifted.

Only the inspired should make decisions that affect the lives of many,

Never a man that has not held God in his arms
and become a servant of unity.

~St. Theresa of Avila

Jennifer Sacramento Streett. Born upon the land of the Ohlone; taking my first steps centuries earlier with one foot as a colonizer, the other foot centuries later as the oppressed. My mountain is Mt. Diablo. My ocean is the Pacific. My lake is Lake Merritt. My tree is the Oak. My mother is Leticia. My father is Ceferino. My bother is Ronald. My partner is Bill. (This is my Whakapapa-Maori form of sharing lineage.) God’s Beloved, Spiritual Activist, and Executive Partner of Operations and Communications of the Presbytery of SF.

 
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7th
Hechos 2:37-42/Acts 2:37-42

Los creyentes de la iglesia de esta lectura formaban una verdadera comunidad. Es evidente que, en nuestro tiempo, aun en medio de la pandemia que nos llama a la solidaridad, continuamos viviendo en comunidades fragmentadas incluyendo nuestras propias denominaciones cristianas. La lectura de Hechos obliga a pensar por que esta comunidad cristiana pudo formar una comunidad de intereses comunes. Los oyentes de Pedro hacen la pregunta que muchos/as hoy día necesitamos repetir, ¿qué debemos hacer?

La respuesta de Pedro es contundente: Arrepentirse y volverse a Dios. No puede haber arrepentimiento genuino sin la confesión de nuestros pecados. Los diálogos entre las diferentes culturas que integran nuestro presbiterio son buenos y saludables. Pero la comunidad de intereses comunes se fortalecerá mucho más cuando cada uno de nosotros/as seamos capaz de confesar nuestras propias fallas. Esta debe ser una práctica tanto individual como colectiva. ¿Quién debe confesar más?

La promesa es para todos/as sin ninguna distinción. Mientras nos preparamos para la venida de Cristo, es importante que la temporada de Adviento no sea para nosotros/as solo una tradición más. La Escritura nos invita a prepararnos en arrepentimiento sincero y la práctica de una comunión y participación fraternal. Esta comunión se convierte en realidad cuando en arrepentimiento y celebración gozosa, aceptamos que no podemos ser el presbiterio ni la iglesia, sin cada una de las culturas y familias que lo integran.

Hermanos/as, la predicación del apóstol nos invita a “salvarnos de esta generación perversa.” No necesitamos seguir repitiendo los errores del pasado. Veamos hacia el frente como verdaderos hermanos/as y hermanas y dejemos que Jesús el hijo de Dios vuelva a nacer en nuestros corazones para un maravilloso nuevo inicio. Como dice el Popol-Vuh, “Que todos se levanten, que nadie se quede atrás, que no seamos ni uno ni dos de nosotros, sino todos.” (Popol-Vuh, libro sagrado Mayas Quiches)

Alabamos tu nombre por nuestro Presbiterio y oramos porque a través de tu Espíritu podamos encontrar la manera adecuada de arrepentirnos, confesar nuestros pecados y convertirnos en una verdadera comunidad que refleje tu amor, misericordia, armonía y paz. Amen.

The believers of the church in this Scripture formed a true community. It is clear that, in our time, even in the midst of the pandemic that calls us to solidarity, we continue to live in fragmented communities including our own Christian denominations. The book of Acts forces us to think why this Christian community was able to create a community of common interests. Peter’s listeners ask the question that many of us today need to repeat, what should we do?

The Apostol’s answer is straight to the point: Repent and turn to God. There can be no genuine repentance without the confession of our sins. The dialogues between the different cultures that make up our presbytery are good and healthy. But the community of common interests will be greatly strengthened when each of us is able to confess our own faults. This should be both individual and collective practice. Who should confess more?

The promise is for everyone without any distinction. As we prepare for the coming of Christ, it is important that Advent Season shouldn’t be just one more tradition for us. The Scripture invites us to prepare ourselves in sincere repentance and the practice of communion and fellowship participation. This communion becomes a reality when in repentance and joyful celebration; we accept that we cannot be the presbytery or the church, without each of the other cultures and families that make up it.

Brothers and sisters, the apostle’s preaching invites us to “save ourselves from this wicked generation.” We don’t need to keep repeating the mistakes of the past. Let us look to the front as true siblings and let Jesus the son of God be born again in our hearts for a wonderful new beginning. As the Popol-Vuh states, “Let all rise, let no one be left behind, that we may not be one or two of us, but all of us.” (Popol-Vuh, sacred book Maya Quiches)

We praise your name for our Presbytery and pray that through your Holy Spirit we can find the right way to repent, confess our sins, and become a true community that reflects your love, mercy, harmony, and peace. Amen.

Rev. Pedro P Morataya is pastor of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana in Oakland.