Questions In The Calling
“How in the world did I end up here? Lord, why me? Why now?”
As I pack up my car to head the to the Calvin Worship Symposium, I can’t help but have a conversation with the Lord.
“How did I end up here?”
As a seminary student, whenever I would ask a professor for resources on worship, they would point me to the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW). I was told that was the place where scholarship and praxis intersect. A group of 1,000 – 2,000 pastors, academics, practitioners, and students gather for an annual conference to explore the intersection of liturgy, life, and the practices of the church. The website alone has thousands of articles, lectures, songs, worship plans, and other resources. Gold!
“Could I possibly be included? Why someone like me?”
Why was I always feeling like an imposter, listening in on the “real” experts? Over the past years, I have been involved in the symposium — teaching in English and Spanish, writing, and being interviewed for their resources. I have also participated in consultations on Bilingual Worship, Intergenerational Worship and Formation, and Urban Worship. I learned that two decades of practice is expertise. I learned that having grown up as a second generation Latina is valuable to a discussion that often leaves our voices ignored. I have come to the understanding that it is rare to have been allowed to worship with the world the way God has invited me to do.
“My community must be heard!”
The voices of People of Color (POC) and in particular women of color (WOC) are critical to the formation of the church and to the formation of our practices in the church. The community that I come from has a distinct voice and it must be heard. This reality is what made me say yes to the invitation to be a plenary speaker for the Symposium this week.
“But…my little voice?”
I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the whole thing — the event, the people who might be there, the people with whom I am sharing the platform — everything! I never set out to be an author. I never set out to hop around the country leading worship and speaking and preaching. (Actually, my teenage dream was to work for NASA. Maybe if I had known the story of Hidden Figures, I would have gone for it .) I certainly didn’t imagine myself standing in the national political tension that the church is in right now, calling people to enter into suffering and solidarity with the most vulnerable in the church. I didn’t foresee a ministry of challenging all (but especially the 81%) to empty themselves of their preferences and fear in order to practice hospitality in worship. But here I am and if I can be honest…
I’m actually sick to my stomach. Usually I have the customary Sunday morning “preaching poops”. Handling God’s word and speaking truths should make you nervous enough to get a little sick…but this morning my body has been telling me “You’re more than just a little nervous. You’re scared!”. I lean into the scripture that was so powerfully preached in my church on Sunday morning. I hear no longer my voice or my questions. I hear the voice of my Father..
“Be Strong, and very courageous, Sandrita, You are my daughter. I made you. I formed you. I allowed every situation and circumstance into your life. I gave you your gifting in music, your passion for justice, your love for people, and your call to move the church. There will always be smarter people, stronger communicators, brighter personalities…but I invited you. Bring your story. Bring your insights. Bring all that I have given you. Be free. I am with you and I will never leave you!”
I hear his voice and i am reminded that all that I am is given to me by the Lord. Yes, apart from him I am nothing…but that doesn’t mean I am nothing. It is his word that leads me to advocate for refugees and immigration: #wewelcomerefugees, #immigrationreform. It is the relationships He has given to me that give me a fury to tell the story of my first nations friend and to inform and call others to #NoDAPL and #blacklivesmatter. These are not impersonal causes that I just text and tweet about. These are people and communities that I am bound to by the cross. Designing worship that leads people to solidarity and mutuality are a result of God’s word and Spirit. I will call others to it until I hear otherwise from my Father Himself. (No matter how I feel.)