Last night the World Plenary began with opening welcomes and worship. We sang songs in Spanish and listened to Young Friends from the planning committee welcome us by our various identities, affiliations, and roles. Representatives from the local government of Pisac and the national government of Peru welcomed us to this land and to this place. The conference is being held in the Sacred Valley, where the town of Pisac is nestled between beautiful steep mountains covered in green.
The whole conference is being interpreted among English, Spanish and French; mostly simultaneously though during the business sessions the interpretations are consecutive. We are all adjusting to speaking more slowly and allowing space for the amazing interpreters to catch up. It is again an exercise of slowing down, so that everyone can walk the journey of this conference together.
The theme of the conference is “Living the Transformation: Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” This theme has been broken down into four parts in the study booklet and Friends have been encouraged to look at one or more as their section facilitates worship.
Latin American Friends from the FWCC-Section of the America led this morning’s worship. We stood together in song as the Latin American Friends gathered in the front of the plenary room and encouraged us to think about what it meant to be “Living the Transformation.”
While we sang and prayed together, Sergio Jose Espino from Guatemala Santidad Yearly Meeting offered a beautiful song of praise.
The passage “Create in me a clean heart, oh God” from Psalm 51:10-12 was read by Ellia Balboa from Mexico Yearly Meeting setting the stage for this morning’s sermon.
The sermon was given by Estuardo Nufio from Guatemala Yearly Meeting. I’ve included the recording below, however it is in Spanish, so here is a brief summary of the parts that spoke to me.
Estuardo spoke about the various crises that our world is facing, economic crisis, political crisis, family crisis, and wars. Yet, Estuardo preached we are also facing a spiritual crisis. A spiritual crisis where people are moving farther from God; people are ignoring God; and people are losing faith in God. Something must be done; we must live the transformation that our faith offers to us, to be peacemakers, to be faithful servants, and to be children of God.
Estuardo shared that the advancements of medical science have lead to successful heart transplants. This amazing accomplishment allows the hearts of donors to be successfully surgically transplanted into another person. Doctors report that patients who receive these heart transplant experience feelings from the donors. For example, someone who never liked soccer before, after their surgery feels passionate about soccer. When they ask their doctor, their doctor says, yes, the donor was a soccer player. While these people are the same as they were before the transplants, they are also changed. In this way, they live those changes everyday.
Like these medical miracles, Jesus stands before us offering us a heart transplant. He reaches into us and takes out our hearts of stone and inserts a heart of flesh; his own. We experience the feelings and passions of that Christ heart. While we are the same as before this transplant, we are also changed. We live the transformation of that living Christ inside of us.
As we sat in silence and listened to that living Christ inside of us, Friends rose and shared their testimonies of being changed by Christ. We prayed together, for those who are still traveling (our Kenyan Friends) and remembered them by feeling their presence in the empty seats around us. We prayed for transformation in ourselves, in our communities, in our countries, and in the world. We prayed that our heart might mirror the heart of Christ to others, bringing about that living transformation as we walk through this world.