Earlier this year, I was invited by the Sound District Dismantling Racism Team to write a piece on racism for the Sound District Newsletter. There is so much to say, so much to learn and unlearn from this topic that I truly did not know where or how to begin. Around the same time, the Hispanic/Latino pastors of the NCCUMC joined forces to put together a virtual Good Friday Seven Last Words Service, in which each word would connect with the experiences of our immigrant community. I was entrusted to do a reflection on the last phrase. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23.46). I believe this word is relevant and pertinent not only to our immigrant community but to us a people of God.
By reading this, I pray that our eyes will be open to the painful reality of the lives of the immigrant community. That our hearts would be moved to compassion which leads to action.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” This was the last prayer Jesus prayed from the cross. A prayer of trust and absolute surrender, even in the most adverse moments. A prayer of trust and not of fear.
While growing up, although I hardly ever set foot inside of a church, my family was very devoted in their faith. Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to entrust my life and every day in the hands of God. Growing up my prayer was “Lord, into your hands I entrust my life and this day.” At first, I believed that I was praying for my health and that of my loved ones and praying for protection in my day-to-day life.
But over the years and as I deepened in my relationship with God, I understood this prayer not so much as a prayer for protection, but rather as a prayer of trust and surrender. A prayer from a heart that trusts in God’s love, grace, and providence even in the most adverse situations. A prayer that trusts, even if there is no way out and the situation is unfavorable. A prayer that acknowledges God is still God, God is still in control, and that God’s kingdom extends beyond this life.
As a pastor of an immigrant community, I realize how important this prayer is to the Latinx people in the United States. It is a prayer for protection, a prayer of trust, but it is also a prayer that unites us to each other and to Jesus.
It is a prayer that we, our parents and ancestors made when leaving our native place in search of something better. It is a prayer that millions of mothers have made for their sons and daughters who venture out every day in pursuit of a dream. “The great American dream”. It is the prayer of sons and daughters for their parents who are left behind, not knowing if they will ever see them again.
It is the prayer of millions of parents who leave their homes to go to work in fear every day without a valid driver’s license, without a favorable immigration status, and knowing the great danger that threatens them in the streets. It is the prayer of thousands of children who pray for their parents, to return to safely to their homes, day after day.
It is the prayer of a suffering community, a community that like Jesus is agonizing next to the cross. It is a prayer that cries out for justice. But it is also the prayer of a community that trusts and keeps hope alive and fights for a better chance at life. It is the prayer of a community that chooses to live in trust and not in fear.
“Father, into your hands we commit our Spirit”