Christ is Risen!
During this Easter season here along the Mexican border, we continue proclaiming God’s message of resurrection and new life in Christ. Our Vigil was a special event, with lighting our Paschal candle outside and hearing ancient Old Testament stories of salvation told in a high-tech way, with prerecorded scripture readings from church members projected onto the screen. As Easter people in Eagle Pass, we trust in God’s promises, even in the midst of high poverty rates, ecological injustices, and challenging political situations.
Encuentro is our Wednesday night learning and spiritual formation time for kids and adults together. For Lent, we painted a giant map for pinning places around the world for which we were praying. We also colored posters of the Stations of the Cross.
We’ve already harvested radishes from the San Lucas garden and shared them with food pantry clients and church members. Baylor University students helped plant seeds in March, and we are waiting for the spinach, onions, and Swiss chard to grow. The beds and water tank were installed with Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin. This garden project is a chance for us to more intentionally encourage healthy eating and to utilize the gifts of God’s creation.
Exploring Del Rio
I was asked by the Rev. Dr. Judith Spindt, our Synod’s Director of Evangelical Mission, to spend one day a week in Del Rio exploring possibilities for mission. This 12-18 month-long project is an experiment in evangelism and ministry, which will prepare me to make a recommendation to the Synod as to potential directions for an ELCA presence in this nearby border city. Three months in, I’ve been doing one-one-one conversations with people in Del Rio, and starting to get a feel for this place that, although also on the border, has a very different demographic feel than Eagle Pass.
Recently Old Lutheran, the company that makes fun t-shirts and other products, had posted several jokes on Facebook that assume that Lutherans are of Scandinavian descent. As pastor of San Lucas, I know plenty of faithful Lutherans who are not. In response, I posted a meme using a picture of the tostadas that were our VBS snack a few years ago. It was a way for me to flip around stereotypes of what it means to be Lutheran. Other colleagues have picked up the idea, posting on social media similar picture memes with captions re-framing Lutheran assumptions using the hashtag #DecolonizeLutheranism.
A Growing Congregation, Even With Challenges
Our 2015 average weekly worship attendance was 51, up from 39 in 2014 (31%). Our number of active participants was 137, up from 103 in 2014 (33%). There is a new energy and enthusiasm brewing at San Lucas. The Holy Spirit is at work here! Also, over twenty families are now using newly-introduced offering envelopes for weekly giving. This is a positive step towards self-sustaining stewardship practices. Nevertheless, we are still very dependent on financial support from friends and mission partners. We are grateful for all your prayers and contributions. In the midst of tight cash-flow situations, we triage how we spend money. We’ve put off purchasing a desperately-needed new weed-eater and lawn mower for several years. Just this week, our electricity was shut off for a few hours as we waited for Sunday’s offering deposit to clear. I received the October paycheck of my pastoral salary in April. Even though these administrative setbacks are irksome and disheartening, hope is not lost. God is not done at San Lucas. In this community struggling with poverty, corruption, and apathy, San Lucas needs to continue in its ministry of welcome, togetherness, and bold grace, as we become a healthier congregation for the sake of the world.
God’s peace be with you,
Pastor Paul Bailie