Dia de los Muertos

Preacher: Jessie Houff

Scripture: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

Date: October 30, 2022

Two weeks ago I participated in a Zoom workshop on Dia de los Muertos, the altar or ofrenda, and learned of an upcoming vigil. This vigil is for migrants who have lost their lives on their journey to the United States.

Our scripture today I found interesting. It was recorded as a conversation between God and the prophet. The prophet says why? How long must there be violence. “The wicked surround the righteous”. 

This is not an unfamiliar cry. 

Then God responds: Work!! 

Write the vision;

make it plain on tablets,

so that a runner may read it.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time;

it speaks of the end and does not lie.

Literally, take the streets! I have literally written the vision on plain poster board right here in this church, in the Hoover Room to be exact, before we headed out to the January 2016 Women’s March on Washington.

I have been to Pride parades with my LGTBQ siblings. We have walked alongside one another celebrating the joy of life and the joy that we can be ourselves, holding up signs of the collective vision: Love is Love!

God said get to work. Make a difference. We can’t expect God to just do everything for us. Why would we ever get out of bed?

Work. Fight. Pray. 

These things are exhausting. Which is why the act of rest is an act of resistance. Tricia Hersey is an artist, activist, writer, and creator of the online phenomenon called The Nap Ministry. Tricia wrote a book called Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto. On her online platform, Tricia preaches and speaks truth to the fact that we’re exhausted. Those who protest, fight for change (or work for change, in the CoB context) those who put themselves on the line for the greater good are physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted. So, when we find rest, we recharge to continue the good work we so desperately need in this world. 

That was my dramatically, poorly, and very quick overview of rest as an act of resistance. If you want to learn more, follow The Nap Ministry on Instagram and buy Tricia Hersey’s book.

When I was a part of the Dia de los Muertos altar workshop, Dr. Alba Nora showed us how to make an altar, an ofrenda, in our communities. At the end of her presentation, Dr. Alba Nora shared that building an altar, honoring those who we have lost is an act of resistance. We rebuke the harm that has been done to our Latinx siblings as they fought for their lives. 

We call out their names: 

Jose Valasquez

Juan Trejo Alonso

Isaias Choc Chen

Silvestra Garcia Espinobarros

Susana Cornejo

Griselda Alvarez Lopez

These are just a few of the hundreds, undoubtedly thousands of migrant lives lost. The names I just named are a few from the list Alba Jaramillo shared with participants of the workshop. The list consisted of 179 names since last October 2nd, JUST in the Arizona Region. There are hundreds, thousands more. I might also mention that hundreds of these lives lost are unidentified. Hundreds of communities and families in despair, lost in the unknown.

Dr. Alba Nora told us to resist. She also told us that this is not a time for sorrow. Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, celebrates the life – the LIFE – of our siblings. We cannot dwell on the evils of this world. It will ruin us. Rather, we get to work. We write the vision on plain tablets. We create art and eat together. 

We are going to build an ofrenda together. I’ve got some homework for you. As soon as church ends, and this is especially for our virtual folks, I want everyone to locate a picture of someone you’ve lost

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