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The Wilderness and The Borderlands: Ash Wednesday

2 Corinthians 6: 3-10

3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Reflection

This is the first of a reflection series for this Lenten season. This series focus on the diasporic experiences of those communities and persons who are in the Borderlands and are experiencing the wilderness of life in this society. These reflections will take different shapes, forms, and ideas, and will come from a diverse group of people related to McCormick Theological Seminary.

For several reasons, like space and the lack of terms, I cannot name all of my identities here. Nevertheless I am going to mention the labels that society has made me feel constantly. I am a Man, which puts me in a position of privilege and is something that I need to check constantly. I am Latino (Hispanic), which constantly reminds me that I don’t belong here and that I am not welcome here, because of my skin color, my accent, etc. I am gay, and because of this identity, people believe they have the right to threaten me and even describe me as abomination. These and many other identities define who I am and are always manifested together creating in me a complex unique individual with many intersections.

In the first century Roman Empire society being Christian meant to be on the Margins, it meant to be on the Borders. Being Christian was an everyday wilderness experience for the early Church. Paul was conscious about it and reminded the community of Corinth. We have forgotten this wilderness experience of Christianity because our religion has become part of the system. Nevertheless, for many of us, several characteristics of our Identity continue to make every day a wilderness experience. We live in the wilderness of rejection, oppression, insecurity, violence, threats, lack of hospitality, underestimation and overestimation, we live in the wilderness of the stereotype that comes with labels that are created by a normative community to divide.

For the next 40 days, we are going to enter in moments of “wilderness.” Some of us will be fasting and sacrificing some pleasures, foods, and many other things. You name your own fasting. And if one of your identity is an identity of privilege, when you fast, remember the experience of those constantly living in the wilderness of living on a society that oppresses them. In this Lenten season you choose to enter in moments of “wilderness” but there are others for whom living in the wilderness is not a choice, it is an imposition.

Prayer

Lord let us be more sensitive to those who are experiencing life in the wilderness because of their identities and forgive us when we have being part perpetuating unjust systems. Allow us to open and create more inclusive spaces where we can embrace each other in our own diversity. Amen.

Eddie Rosa-Fuentes: Anti-Racism Committee Representative

Eddie A. Rosa Fuentes (30) was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He possess a Bachelor Degree in Wildlife Management and now is pursuing his Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary. He moderated the Latin@ Student Association at McCormick last year and currently moderates the anti-racism advocacy group.