Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How Should Christians Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Today is Cinco de Mayo.  How many of us know how this holiday came to be?  The Writer's Almanac web site tells us, "It commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In a David-and-Goliath confrontation, the 8,000-strong, well-armed French army was routed by 4,000 ill-equipped Mexican soldiers, and though it wasn’t a decisive battle in the course of the war, it became a symbol of Mexican pride. It’s also become a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture in the United States."

For many of us, it's just another excuse to drink, like Saint Patrick's Day.  But what if we looked at this holiday with new eyes?  Today, I'll be thinking about how great odds can be overcome.

Some of us may be feeling discouraged, given the events of the last few weeks.  We may think of all those dead in Tibet.  We may think of all the news of poverty and despair that came to light after police brutality.  We may look at shrinking numbers in our colleges and churches.  We may wonder if societal transformation is possible.

But historical events like Cinco de Mayo, like the marches around Selma fifty years ago, like communities that have rebuilt after disaster--all these things remind us of what can happen if ordinary people come together.

And even if we feel we can't do anything physical, we can still pray.  I leave you with the words of  my all-time favorite theologian, Walter Wink, who reminds us again and again that God will not intervene in this universe that gives us free will unless we ask God to intervene: "This is a God who works with us and for us, to make and keep human life humane. And what God does depends on the intercessions of those who care enough to try to shape a future more humane than the present" (Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, page 301).

So, however you choose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let us pause to pray for a world where people do not have to rise up against oppression.  Let us pray for a world where oppression no longer exists.

Maybe we can't imagine such a world.  But God can.

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