Rev. Carlos Samuel Reyes Rodríguez speaks to the difficulties of discovering one's personal identity while simplifying our understanding of our Christian identity.
See more videos in the ONWARD series with Rev. Carlos:
Who am I? What I am here for?
These are questions that can be explored in order to gain clearer direction to answer what I am doing with my life. Buenas, me llamo Carlos Samuel Reyes Rodríguez and I serve as a Deacon in Peninsula-Delaware luchando con nuestra gente Latina.
Discovering identity and purpose is a helpful practice for transformation even when we are going through obstacles or hardships. Problematic situations are present throughout life and they become crises when we don't see the exit or end; discrimination in the US, for example, can easily be too long a burden to live under.
Witnessing a third of the US population –including Christians- vote for a candidate with xenophobic policies as his platform took a toll on me. I entered into a period of crisis. ¿Cómo era possible que autodenominados seguidores de Jesús apoyaran esta manifestación de maldad? In the realm of God, immigrants are welcomed and honored, treated with compassion and love. This evident moral contradiction came because I had expectations of the church of Christ that did not match with the identity of Christ.
The internal predicament pushed me to seek deeply into who I am and what my role is in the here and now. I admit I was numb prior to 2013 –when I started my theological education- and didn't take seriously the importance of following a disruptive God who frees us from apathy and unjust living. In one word, from sin.
Since November 2016, I have let my facial hair grow until the current administration is no longer in office. It has become a permanent reminder of the pain imposed by the power holders in this nation, a learning journey deepening my roots, and a personal sign of constant anticipation for change; a commitment that re-directs my purpose, my call.
Invited by a God of justice, we are showered in the waters that call us "to preach good news with the ones who live in poverty, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." This claim, which we remember each time we partake in Holy Communion, liberates me: surpassing the selfish and nationalistic interpretation of God while giving me the ultimate identity.
I understand that church has indeed systematically preserved oppressive structures of power throughout history. I also comprehend that God is not the US church. The realm Jesus builds on earth is holy even when the institution cooperates with opposing forces by action or omission.
When a crisis comes, I believe we need to confront it to expose false expectations. As painful as it might be, we must face it admitting that we have been part of a racist structure. Then, we reclaim the identity based on our Creator's voice and distinguish it from the corruptive one. When one voice says that you are an illegal, Dios te dice you are my beloved child. When you hear a voice saying that you aren't worthy, Dios te dice mi gracia es suficiente y you are made in my image.
As we continue overcoming negative life experiences, we ought to be attentive to the sound of liberation for all humanity. El amor, la justicia y la paz de Dios Sean contigo hoy y siempre.
Rev. Carlos Samuel Reyes Rodríguez a Deacon serving in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church. View other videos in this ONWARD series.