Writing from the Episcopal USA-Anglican Church in Brazil Bilateral Meeting, Day 1, Saturday April 2:
After a long flight from the House of Bishops meeting (March 25–30), through D.C., to Sao Paulo, a regional air flight to Iguassu Falls, and then a two-hour drive to Cascavel, I have to admit that I was bracing myself for what had been billed as an all day “diocesan synod meeting.”
Instead, I’ve been elated all through this warm day as extraordinary groups of landless young adults, indigenous people, and priests of the Anglican Church in Brazil have been coming together in their common commitment to Christ and to the cause of environmental justice.
The young adults were born in the camps of landless agricultural workers, and are taking part in a great education effort, wherein young people teach other young people. These young women and men attend intensive classes at a university in Cascavel for two months — all day throughout the week — and then return to the camps to teach other young people. One of the young men was wearing a red thread around his wrist. I asked what it signified. He replied, “I tied it on my wrist when I began this program, and it will stay on until I complete this work.”
A priest told a story about one of the indigenous men at the meeting: “A priest came to the community to celebrate the Eucharist. When the service was over, the indigenous people started to sing. The priest was talking to another person while they were singing. Peter came to the microphone and said, ‘Stop! We listened while you prayed. All our songs are prayers; why won´t you listen while we pray?’ ’’ Then one of the indigenous men himself stood in our meeting and said, “We are like the landless agricultural workers because our rights to the land have never been recognized.”
All of these movements, whether of the young, or the indigenous, or the environmentalists — all are based in a heart-felt love for Jesus Christ. As one young woman said, “Our faith is for the whole world because it comes from the same earth on which we all stand; it is a popular movement because we welcome everyone; and it is Christian because we follow Jesus. We never greet one another from across the room, from far off, because Jesus has brought us close and given us a life together — we always come to each other and hug.”
I promise I will always look forward to Church meetings from this time forward!