In 2017 we commemorated the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Then as now, I like to point out that we do not celebrate the separation from the Roman Catholic Church, but rather we commemorate the ways the church has been reformed. 2020 is also a year when we are constantly reforming or adjusting things in all aspects of our life, from having doctors visits via Facetime, to having school on Zoom, to having our worship pre-recorded on YouTube or as drive-in services held in the parking lot.
For some people this reformation has been easy—but for me (and others like me) it is hard because I truly love to be with people! Giving proper hugs is in my Latinx DNA, and technology has never been my strength. Even so, I have come to see all these new ways as beautiful opportunities to stay connected with you. One example of reformation and adjustment is how we will be commemorating Dia de los Muertos on Sunday, November 1st at 12 noon in the fire pit by the CtK Community Garden.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) started in Mexico as a way to remember and honor our deceased loved ones. It is a pre-hispanic tradition, meaning that it was practiced before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and Christian missions. Later, when the Roman Catholic faith had become predominant in Mexico, Día de los Muertos was connected with the festivals of All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd).
We observe Día de los Muertos by visiting cemeteries to decorate the graves of our departed. Some of us make little altars with photos to honor our loved ones. Like so much in life and faith, the way we observe Día de los Muertos has changed and reformed. As Christians, we do not celebrate the way our ancestors did. Today, when we make altars we use 3 levels to represent God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—not the three levels of earth, heaven and Mictlan (the Aztec underworld). The candles we light remind us of the light of Christ in our lives, and the water represents our baptism. In addition, we add food that our muertos loved when they were with us. Especially popular are calaveras made with sugar and painted in bright colors, which represent the sweetness of our time on earth, and even sweeter when we go to our Lord. (The recent movie “Coco” lifts up some of the traditions of Día de los Muertos).
Luther helps us see that the call to be church in the language of the people is connected in a particular way to how we Latinxs members of Cristo Rey /Christ the King relate to our faith through our culture. May God accompany you in whatever way you celebrate All Saints Day, knowing that your siblings in Christ from Cristo Rey will be praying in Spanish for all who have passed away and now are in God’s presence.