La Música del Río | The River’s Song, Pastora Maria | Rev. Maria Swearingen
The River’s Song
In my conversations with Pastor Edgar, particularly about our members who are Spanish-speaking, he has told me several times, “Look, Maria. Take them on a hike to a river or some body of water. And when you get there, take your time, talking, laughing, singing, and studying Scripture. You’ll see that the community will begin to rest and rejuvenate itself. All they need is first, the Spirit, and second, a little time in a river!”
There’s something marvelous about a river, isn’t there? It animates us, cares for us, it reminds us of God’s power and presence. What stories could a river tell? So many rocks eroded and hewn from its waters. So many feet that have touched its streams. So many faces that have crossed over its tributaries. It is haunting, really.
While time may march on, a river carries within it the richness of generations long past. The river whispers of things we know not of, but its waters feel just as fresh upon our skin, just a cool down our throats. The pasts that linger in that river are as real as the river itself. And the waters that surround us tell us of those pasts.
God’s river sings of liberation.
God’s river of peace.
God’s river sings of joy.
God’s river sings like the prophets of ancient times sang.
The prophet Amos tells us that God’s justice is like a river’s song. “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!” The stream, the lake, the river, they are all images of justice. Why?
Because, like justice, a river is always moving. It is always watering parched earth. It is always overflowing with life and hope. It is always sustaining us. A river has the power to destroy any obstacle or boulder obstructing it, and at the same time, has the gentleness to whisper lullabies to babies.
And that’s what justice does too. It’s always moving, always watering, always overflowing, always sustaining, with power, with care, with righteous anger, with love.
We already know that in this country, people in power have the gall to use a river to divide us. Right there, in between the U.S. and Mexico sits an ancient river calling us to justice, and some of us would dare to call it a border. A border of what? I’ll tell you what. Colonialism, prejudice, abuse, and lies.
Theologian Justo Gonzalez says that Latin American prophets know this all too well.
We know that we are born out of an act of violence of cosmic proportions in which our Spanish forefathers raped our Spanish foremothers. We have no skeletons in our closet. Our skeletons are at the very heart of our history and our reality as a people.” He goes on to say that Latin Americans know how to read the Bible and history through non-innocent eyes. We know better than to simply accept what people tell us about the world. We know better than to simply accept what people tell us about faith. We know to listen to the river, to the song of the prophets, to the song coursing through our veins. We know that the God of justice is inside our bones and our histories. We know that rivers aren’t meant to be borders but that they are meant to be wellsprings of liberation, and so are our lives.
Latin Americans carry similar experiences as the ancient prophets because, like a river, we have the blood of the conqueror and the conquered in our veins. We know that the world isn’t innocent, that the past isn’t innocent, we know that the past can be unjust and brutal, and we know that God is always working within history to liberate us from that past.
We also know that every river is meant to be for all people, inviting us to solidarity and community. The river is for our joy and for our baptism of love. The river is for the music of the people, the music of the heart, the music of the prophets, who with their passionate cry, say to us again, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!”
The river of God, the river of life, is the river of the people. So, we enter it today with joy, always calling the people to their deepest liberation. Amen.
© Rev. Maria Swearingen
Senior Co-Pastor | Calvary Baptist Church
November 12, 2017