“For the Honor and Glory of God”
We almost made it on time for the 6 am worship service Easter morning at Central Christian Church in San Luis Potosi. Kate had made two large pans of coffee cake for the breakfast following so packing the car and getting the dogs on the roof, where they can roam free, complicated our getting away at the early hour. Over thirty five persons attended so Pastor Josue Martinez Cisneros, who had expected half that many, had to be pleased.
Before heading to the 11 am service at Iglesia Christiana Evangelica (Discipulos de Christo) de la Colonia Julien Carrillo, we had time to explore the beautiful Tangamanga Park for the first time. On our walk there was remarkably little evidence of the hordes of people who had enjoyed a picnic in the park woods the day before. An “enchanted castle”, a roller (or ice?) skating rink, open air amphitheater, and water park were among the attractions we discovered on the brief tour. It’s the second largest urban park in Mexico so there is much more to see, including the shell of the 1609 house of the hacienda that once occupied the grounds.
At Julien Carrillo we arrived in time to sit in a front pew with a hymnal – we really need to buy one – and were uplifted by the congregational singing and three familiar melodies sung by their fine choir. During the “testimonials” segment of the service two couples gave thanks for thirty plus years of marriage, Bere Gil Soto thanked God for two wonderful weeks far away from studies at Indianapolis’ Christian Theological Seminary, and a young mother concluded the testifying with a somber note. She expressed hope that her husband would return with the family to church and envisioned that when he did it would be “for the honor and glory of God”.
Once again, it was the “testimonials” of the congregation that stood out in the Easter worship. During this segment, we always feel moved and privileged as church members reveal challenges, setbacks and grief along with causes for celebration. Often in the background of these testimonies is the context of the speaker’s living the Christian faith as an evangelical in a very Catholic country. Kate and I continue to try to understand and appreciate more fully the impact on the faith journey of being in the minority.
Learning about the martyrs in the past history of the evangelical churches of Mexico, of families divided by faith and of the sacrifices made by many evangelicals in our day leads us to reconsider the place of risk in the faith journey. Taking the risk of the “leap of faith” as Kierkegaard called it was a central theme of our Lenten meditation this year.
The “leap of faith” by our Mexican friends here has us wondering what we give up as Christians if there is little risk in a life of faith. In the U.S. where Protestant “evangelical” Christianity is the norm on the religious and cultural landscape, where and how does risk feature in the lives of Christians? And in a life of faith free of risk how do we witness to the “honor and glory of God”?