I’m in Wausau, Wisconsin where I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing Pastor Lisandro Orlov speak today. Pastor Lisandro is from Argentina and is the Latin American regional coordinator for the Lutheran World Federation HIV/AIDS campaign. He said a lot of intriguing and challenging things about the relationship between the church and those in the world who are stigmatized and excluded. A few statements, in particular, really stood out for me. These aren’t exact quotes, but they are close:
- Be more than the boundary established in your culture.
- My job each Sunday is to scandalize my parish.
- Be a sanctuary for the dignity of all people.
Pastor Lisandro was emphasizing that living the Gospel is not easy. It can mean walking with people and in places that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and sometimes unacceptable to people around you. But it’s also incredibly important, enriching, and ultimately just.
I love these ideas and how they relate to our work in World Hunger. Building relationships with those who live in poverty is not particularly comfortable to many of us who live in relative wealth. But our lives are enriched through such relationships. And a mutual, real understanding of each other is critical for building the trust and structures and processes necessary for ending poverty. We also need to get more people involved. To get the attention and support we need to make real changes, we often have to push others out of their comfort zones, too. Sometimes, we must speak truth to power, which is not easy or safe. But in doing these difficult things, what if we, by our actions, become a sanctuary for the dignity of all people? Picture that: sanctuary for the dignity of all people. I can’t imagine a better legacy for a life, or a better display of the divine.