Christmas comes quietly…

I guess that makes sense in a land where only about 2.3% of the population understands themselves to be Christian… Christmas doesn’t hit you over the head like it does in the states with the radio playing Christmas music everywhere, every shopping mall and individual store decked out with sparkly excess, individuals with inflatable lawn ornaments and an intense debate and challenge for many churches trying to claim Advent against a Christmas backdrop that seeks to dull your senses and lull you into a shopping frenzy only “befitting of a Christmas season.”

Of course other holidays and festivals garner much attention at different times. October celebrated the Hindu festival of Diwali, the festival of lights which to American eyes felt like Christmas in the shopping malls in the days leading up to this big festival. And the night of which felt like the 4th of July (American Independence Day) on steroids. From the roof top that I was able to be on that night, I could look in any direction to see amazing displays of fireworks. I can’t imagine the cost in Indian Rupees, though the cost in air pollution was a little more obvious…

But Christmas seems quiet in the days before it comes. I like the preparation time that feels maybe more like Advent but I have to admit missing a little of the buzz.

Still I was able to find Mary and the baby Jesus under the tree…

The colors of red and green…

The comingling of the sacred and the secular…

Advertisements

My Surreal Reality

Did you ever have an experience where you woke up every single day and said “this must be a dream?” Then you are starting to appreciate how these past 2 months have felt for me. I so often feel overwhelmed by the surreal reality that is my life right now. Who would have imagined what time spent away could do and where it might place me…

I traveled from Bangalore to Tirupati to see the community of and talk to the congregation of St Luke’s Lutheran Church of the SALC (South Andhra Lutheran Church). The SALC has had connections with the ELCA and her predecessor bodies.

Everywhere I go I am translated by someone, as my fast American accent is a bit confusing to the British English with an Indian accent that is spoken here. Sometimes I really wish I knew the language but then it seems we are able to make ourselves understood even without words. A gentle touch on the back, a strong arm stopping you from danger, one word and a finger pointing you in the right direction, eyes of fear and question and smiles of friendship…

When I spoke at St Luke’s I was honored to be translated by The Rev. M. Vijaya Victor, the first woman to be ordained in the SALC. I think she did well, but there were a couple times she gave me the look which said, “You want me to say what???” (I am sure this is not surprising to hear…) Just like I reminded the congregation of St Luke’s, Jesus goes before us, just like he said he would. (Mark 16:7) Thank you Jesus for the multitude of ways you work through us and the people we meet!

Bangalore – UTC

Its gorgeous here. It feels slightly like being in a fairy tale. Gurukul was surrounded by the city and by noise, UTC (United Theological College) is more like buildings amidst the gardens…

But lest you think this is a sleepy place, don’t go so fast. I think it is going to be quite interesting to be here. The first professor I met face-to-face was Dr Evangeline Rajkumar, one of the most articulate feminist theologians I have met anywhere. I will be sitting in her lectures while I am here. How interesting to be in a country defined by patriarchy and raise yourself up to be a voice that questions every tradition and every understanding that keeps patriarchy as the standard. She was even featured in a national magazine here this month, One. Check her out.