Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preparing God's Kingdom - an Advent Reflection

The following is a reflection by Anna Mayer, one of this year's Little Village Volunteers.  Anna shared this with the Amate community during her house's Los Posadas-themed Advent reflection.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord,  make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
   - Mark 1:1-8

I think I have a lot to learn from John the Baptist. He does come off a little crazy in this passage, eating locusts and all, but at LV we ate the ants that made their way into our peanut butter, so who am I to judge? But in all seriousness, I find John’s radical simplicity both inspiring and challenging. His ability to live with so little offered him the freedom to travel and preach the word of God. As I struggle to commit myself to a simplicity that my friends find difficult to understand, I need to remind myself why I’m doing it—to live in solidarity with those I serve, gain a better appreciation for what I’ve been given, and ultimately to bring me closer to God. Because in getting closer to God I learn how to better prepare the way of the Lord by building His kingdom.

This Advent season I have been asking myself how I can build the Kingdom of God, and ironically enough, I’ve decided that I need to start by tearing down much of what society has built. We need to start by tearing down the structures and systems that create injustice and divisions among us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recapping the SOA Protest

The following is a reflection by Michael Pederson, one of this year's South House Volunteers.

Saturday morning, the 20th of November greeted me unexpectedly, somewhere between Indiana and Georgia I had miraculously fallen asleep on the bus full of SOA protesters from DePaul, headed to Fort Benning, Georgia.  SOA stands for “School of the Americas”, and although the institution is now officially labeled as another name, its purpose remains; to train Latin American soldiers. As I stretched and painfully moved my overly stiff neck around, I was captivated by the beautiful landscape surrounding me; forests and hills and land! A stark contrast from the cement-laden city of Chicago, I was once again filled with the butterflies of adventure, I was headed to Georgia, to the fabled SOA protest I had heard about for so many years.  I had never been able to attend in college so when Amate offered to set us up to follow with DePaul for a small fee, I was in.  Friday night our trio of Amate House Volunteers, Colin , Lindsay, and I found ourselves entering the DePaul student commons, feeling older and more experienced than these undergraduate creatures we so recently were.

As we rolled into Columbus, Georgia, where we were to spend the night, I slipped on my headphones and put on one of my favorite songs, “The Adventure” (Check it out, it’s great!) and could feel I was about to be part of something way bigger than me. After checking into the hotel, we drove off to Fort Benning to add to the crowd gathering outside the gates of the SOA. As we walked down the coned-off road, which would hold the main events of the protest for the next 24 hours, I felt very intimidated and anxious.  Flanking us on each side were multitudes of police, most of them very large and stone-faced.  Looking around amongst the people trickling down the wide road, I was surprised of the polarity between the police and the protesters. Not one person that I saw on the way to the protest even displayed a trace of violence or a threatening look. By the end of the trip I would estimate the total police count to be over a hundred, not to mention the soldiers; I don’t even want to think about how many thousands of dollars was spent on their unneeded security.