Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Feathers on the way
‘A young man wants to see you, Ernesto’.


I wonder if today is going to be one of those days when every twenty minutes someone calls at reception for me and asks for a food voucher. As if she can read my mind, Jane added,
‘Ernesto it is not about a food voucher’.

‘Ok, I will be there in a minute’.

I greeted a young man and took him to a room where we could have a private conversation.
‘I remember you. I have seen you before.’
‘Yes, I came here few months ago to enquire what I needed to do to be baptised.’
‘That is right, I remember, so what happened?’
‘You never contact me.’
‘Mmm... that’s very strange.’
‘Never mind, it was for the best.’

Then he told me how God has been doing amazing things in his life, all the time deepening his faith.
‘I also want to apologise to you.’
‘Because, I was very angry with you... I felt that you did not regard my story of conversion. Anyway, I’m not angry any more. God had showed me something amazing.’

He told me this story:

‘A couple of days ago I felt that God was asking me to leave the house and I did.’ ‘Where do you want to take me Lord?’ he had said, and for a while God said nothing; he thought that maybe he was just imagining everything. Then he realised there were fathers on the floor like in a line. He followed them and to his surprise, it led him to the church. He didn’t want to come to the church, but God had other ideas. He went to the chapel and there God spoke to him again. He said God had told him things about me and he felt terrible, as he had been angry with me all this time. After awhile he felt a profound presence of God.

‘I came to apologise’, the young man said.

We chatted for a while about God manifestations and I told him what one of my previous parishioners used to say to me each time she found feathers: that ‘Angels have been here’.

‘Can I be baptized?’ Certainly, and this time I will make sure you are.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

It is done. This time we could not save him. It had to be cut. Insurance reasons, they told us. On Friday, 3rd December, I stand at our French doors and witness the ritual. The music we play understands the mood, a symphony from the new world, Hanaq pachap kusikuynin.

His body is stripped away, his open arms broken, mutilated. This old eucalyptus is resigned to its fate and it is Holy Friday in my heart, not Advent.

This old friend welcomed us when we arrived to this new city. Eucalyptus was the tree my father loved so much, to us, a reminder of his soul. And on this tree we wrote our initials in a heart.

As Marie collects some branches for Christmas flowers, frantically Paquito bites and chews a branch as if he is trying to wake up the fallen guardian. It is in vain, life has gone. It is a funeral of sorts, a scattering of branches and memories from our garden.

Goodbye my friend. You will be born again in other trees. In a few weeks time a new friend will be planted in his place. It will be a Rowan Tree.

A Tree from Wales.

" Ese hombre es como un arbol..."

Yo dibuje arboles
y fui diestro
solo los contemplo

He visto arboles
que crecen
y nadie lo nota
que mueren
y nadie lo sabe

He visto arboles
de todo tiempo
grandes y pequeños
fragiles y fuertes
sabios y necios

He visto arboles
luchar por su vida
enfrentar al viento
resistir la lluvia
soportar el sol

He visto arboles
llorar desnudos
bajo la luz de la luna

He visto arboles
ahora lo recuerdo
morir arrancados
de su suelo

Con carboncillo y lapiz
dibuje muchos arboles
tambien con tinta y color
pero en ninguno
deje grabado
el recuerdo
de un amor

Quiero morir
contemplando un arbol
quiero morir
como un arbol

a ponerme
de pie...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Los 33
This morning I would like to reflect on an event that had captured the imagination of the whole world few weeks ago. I am referring to the story of ‘Los 33’ Chilean miners trapped inside the mine of San Jose.

Thanks to the great media coverage, we were all able to see the dramatic pictures of the rescue. We were touched, moved, inspired.... We even wept, as one miner after another was freed and welcomed by their relatives. After weeks of anxious uncertainty, finally they were back to their families – safe.

As I watched the remarkable events on television, I began to notice something interesting: I realised there were two different narratives taking place at the same time. One was about technology and engineering; the other was about faith and mystery.

On the one hand, we had the impressive rescue operation. An incredible display of engineering and technology. An effort that excelled by its rigorous and meticulous attention to detail. It was a masterpiece of efficiency. A great achievement for a small nation like Chile.

On the other hand, we have the people and their world view. As they shared their stories and articulated their experience, we discovered a fascinating world view: a beautiful away to explain life through allegories and metaphoric language, where the supernatural elements blended into reality without any conflict.

These two separate narratives were not at odds, but quite the contrary. It is amazing that all the advances of the modern world have not taken away this beautiful way to explain, interpreted and understands reality.

In their world view HOPE, FAITH, GOD, MIRACLE, MYSTERY sit together comfortably with high power drills, advanced technology and complex engineering. As they see it, the real and the fantastic can live together, as the material and the spiritual, the visible and the invisible, the natural and the supernatural, secular and sacred – Heaven and earth – God and technology.
The American news network CNN broadcast this story:
One of the miners wrote a letter to his brother telling him what happened before the accident. In the letter, he explained that on the day of the accident he was driving a vehicle trough the tunnels when suddenly something compelled him to stop suddendly. It was a display of white butterflies flying around. In all his years working in the mines he never have seen anything like that. He was stunned by the beauty and unusual nature of this incident. He had to stop. Seconds later the sealing of the mine collapsed in front of him, blocking the way out. If he had not stopped to admire the white butterflies, he would be buried. The white butterflies saved him. When the story become known in Camp Hope, people interpreted this incident as a miracle. They started to refer to the white butterflies as the ‘angelitos blancos’ – little white angels.

This story encapsulates the essence of this world view, where miracles and unexplained things can happen any time. Sadly, in the West we have lost this way of seeing things. That is why sometimes we feel at odds when we read the Bible, because the Bible is full of this kind of stuff. Our culture in the West has numbed our ability to see the world in a more holistic way.

One of the psychologists from NASA who had been advising the Chilean government explained that, in his opinion, the reason why the miners survived such as tough and hostile conditions was their faith. These people survived because they had a faith that gave them hope and strength in unbearable circumstances. Faith kept them alive.

This story of 33 men trapped in the dark womb of the earth maybe is a metaphor for all of us. Something we can learn from this story is that a holistic world view is the key to our survival.

Maybe that is the reason why this story has resonated and captured the imagination of the whole world.

Technology rescued the miners, faith save them.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Entertaining angels
without knowing it
“Peter started knocking at the front entrance of the house and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. But as soon as she recognized Peter's voice she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed to everyone there, "Peter is at the door!" "No, he can’t be" they told her. When she kept insisting that it was him, they said, "It must be his angel."
Acts 12: 13-15

It was early on Monday morning when Teresa bumped into Jaime on her way to the market. He looked out of sorts and in hurry.
“How are Inez and the girls?” Teresa asked.
“They’re fine”, he replied without conviction in his voice. His unusual aloofness made Teresa feel uneasy and she sensed that something wasn’t quite right.
“I’ll pop in this evening.”
“Ok”, he replied, and left without making eye contact or giving her the usual goodbye kiss.

That evening Teresa went to see her neighbours, as she promised. She rang the bell and the door was opened immediately by the girls. Their red, puffy eyes revealing they had been crying.
“Girl’s what’s happened?” Teresa asked, making her way into the flat.
“Dad had a car accident yesterday night”, they answered together.
“But that must be impossible I saw him … ”
“Teresa, dad died this morning in the hospital”, one of the girls managed to say before crying again

The three sisters were members of the Church Youth Group where I was one of the leaders; their parents were not churchgoers. On the day of the funeral they told me the story about their dad and Teresa, and then they asked me one of the most difficult questions anybody had asked me in my life:

Who was the person Teresa saw? Was it our dad? Was it his spirit?

I didn’t have an answer that day, and I still don’t today. I only remember that while I was talking with them that the passage I quoted above, from Acts, came to mind and I remember thinking perhaps Teresa did see an angel.

I have met many people with the most amazing stories about angels; some, a real challenge to our pragmatic way of thinking, some deeply moving and inspirational, some quite funny and others quite bizarre. Long ago I made a decision to never pass judgement on these stories, but to accept them as they are: a gift that challenges our limited understanding about spiritual realities that can enrich our lives or at least bring a smile to our faces.

I like the fact that the scripture never went into great details trying to explain what angels are but I like that in quite a provocative way it insinuates their presence and exhorts us to be aware.“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

Whether they are strangers or celestial beings, or both; it doesn’t matter. Let’s welcome them as they come - with wings or without, in the appearance of the homeless or a refugee, the elderly or a child. Whatever their appearance, lets offer them the best of our hospitality

I hope we will be more sensitive and aware of the presence of ‘Angels’ in our secular and materialistic society, especially as people seek to address their spiritual needs. If we dismiss them, we may be missing a great opportunity for conversation with those spiritual seekers.

Friday, 24 September 2010

“Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have
entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2

Monday, 6 September 2010

My Bible
I grew up in a very traditional evangelical church; everyone had their own bible, would read it regularly, and would carry it to every church service. We were the people of the book.

After my conversion in the summer of 1974 at the age of 13, I took the decision to buy a new bible. I always wanted ‘The Missionary Bible’, but I settled for what I could afford using all my savings, which was a black leather-covered bible with gold edges. It was a beautiful A5 size Bible. I grew older with my bible. It became my companion, witness to so many sad and happy moments in my life.

In 2002, I travelled to Cuba with my good friend Simon ‘hombre’ Lockett. The Association of Evangelical Pastors invited us to run a series of seminars over there. My friend Mapa - who is based in Miami - made all the arrangements and agreed to meet us in Havana the day after arrival.

Unfortunately, when we arrived we were tricked at the airport. Two guys, pretending to be from the Association of Pastors, stole everything we had, and I mean everything, including my much beloved Bible. It was a nightmare of an experience. We tried so hard to not let that one bad incident spoil our time on the Island given we had also met many wonderful people.

It was only after we came back that I came to terms with what happened to us. As the memory of what we went through sank in, I felt anger and guilt. ‘Why I was so stupid?’ I asked myself so many times. I lost many, many things, but the loss of my bible really hurt and upset me most. ‘My dear bible is gone for good’, I lamented again and again.

Sometimes I still wonder where my bible is. Who could have it? Would he/she reading it? I wonder if my footnotes are of any help. Would my Bible bring comfort? Salvation? I want to believe that is well looked after, that it had found a new, good owner, a new home.

If there is any place on the planet where it makes sense to loose a bible, it is in that place, Cuba. I pray for the person who has it – that they will find comfort and wisdom in the word of God, just as I did.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Fellowship & Communion

As we walk the path of life questions and doubts will always emerge.
O Lord Jesus Christ you walk along with us

As we travel in the midst of a busy life sometimes, we cannot sense your presence
O Lord Jesus Christ you walk along with us

As we crossed adversities and troubles encountering a broken world
O Lord Jesus Christ you walk along with us …

For more click the link

Monday, 23 August 2010



Death is the term of life
reminding myself daily
a kind of consolation
on awaiting that
finally, a moment
of concern


My soul won’t leave
despite my prayer
don’t want to be alive
shouts despair
echoes of nothingness
darkness and cold
oceans of indifference

I’m alone,
and ageing
tears form new seas
lone islands of pain
no-one heard
pain won’t count
goes unnoticed
but for


The Lord of the sea
recalling it now
the greatest among my peers
my feats inspired legends and poems
songs wooing the sirens
I was admired
my anger made
the sea rage

Men put a price on me
I laughed it all away
being the quickest,

Danced with my lovers
loving at dawn
there were children
by day in the sea,
at night crossing heaven
So free…
they thought me a god
I too made that mistake
in command of the oceans,
the Lord of life
over myself, over all…
so young, I remember it
silent blues…

Waters redden
silence aloud with cries
fear entering the soul
taking flight down
to the very bottom
search for
a place to be
and they follow:
I cursed men,
wept over my sisters
temptation seizes me
fill your lungs
became coral forever
only I think it
haven’t the guts
death I long for
the death that I fear much


Judgment day!
Judgment day!
the great day
they cry out
silly scared fish
looking to hide
has my day come?
struggling to the
surface to see
with my own eyes
that last time
what is it but
blaspheming rage
complicit waters
all in a tempest
and afar off,
some small boat
caught up in it
nature in uproar
I’m so curious
enough to see
not knowing how
I swallowed him
the old man
and the sky is
calm as the sea.

From within
the poor man
spoke no word
is he resigned
to his fate?

I’ don’t understand
silence, creating
like a force
promise of endings
miracle to be born
he was quietness itself
I lost hope of
understanding all,
when it spoke to me
like a brother
calling to the sea
beheld the Spirit
who spoke
without a word


Three days and
three nights
passed upon
the silence
I open my mouth
his body left
silence behind
without abandoning


After years
the silence
spoke to me
like it was
revealing that
hidden secret
it gives me
strength, to
go on living
in gratitude
all of life
that remains

this single
life is already
coming to an
only just
recently I
begin to
silent blues.


Friday, 6 August 2010

She remembers nothing. She does not remember who she is, that she had daughter, lovely neighbours, a church to belong. She does not remember anything. She has lost her memory.

Can you read something from my bible?-she asked when I visited her at the hospital.

I read Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters...” As I read, she closed her eyes and put her hands together in attitude of prayer. She looks at peace.
Do you remember that you are quite good at drawing?
Am I? She looks surprised.

I promised her that I would talk to her doctor if they can provide her with some paper and pens. She smiles. She looks happy.
Tomorrow she would not remember what happened today, or what I said.
They have done all kind of tests and the doctors are clueless. They do not know why she had blocked her memories; shut down...It is like a defence mechanism. The Doctor said.
It makes sense. Memories can make our life hell.

The wife of my vicar once told me how the memories of her dad about the holocaust were becoming more vivid and disturbing, as he grew fragile and old. Is time cure for the memories?
Before the end of my father’s life, his memories of his mother become more alive. He will ask my mum if his mum really love him. Despise the reassurances he never seem convinced. Bad memories stayed with him. How many people I have meet who are tormented by tragic memories. Who have not been able to make peace with their past. As a priest, I can only be companion and walk with people as they go through their unresolved past and painful memories...I can read with them
“Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”

I remember a preacher who once he said this:

“When I am old and fragile I would like to spend my days sitting in a rocking chair in the porch of my house, seeing life passing by and then I would close my eyes and remember my life. How God have been gracious to me, my family, my ministry...I would recall all those precious moments...all that memories. I live today in a way that I am accumulating good memories for that time. They will be my treasure.”

This story stayed with me. It has become a memory I would like to aspire.

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

To see the series
The Prophet / Wondering Jew
follow the link

"...from verbal Rococo to minimalistic silence; from contemplating an Icon or lighting a candle to absorbing the beauty of creation or engaging in the creative endeavour; from doing prayers to being a prayer."

From the Episcopal Cafe - Art Blog

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Everything in life has its moment and time
The Artist and His Mother, c.1926-36,
oil on canvas, 60 x 50 inches
Arshile Gorky

At the end of 1998, I went to visit my friend Juan Manuel [‘El Chino Catalan’] and his family in Holland. We had not seen each other since I left Barcelona in 1987. It was wonderful to see him again and meet his family. JM was a good friend to me, he introduced me to jazz - in particular free jazz - the work of Abraham Heschel and Gaspacho. At the time when we last met he was trying to master the language and was reading books in Dutch. The book he was reading at the time was, ‘My Name is Asher Lev’ by Chaim Potok. He rated the book very highly and encouraged me to read it, too. When I come back to the UK, I bought the book. I started reading the book many times but somehow I never managed to get beyond its first chapter. Eventually it got lost amongst my many other unread books that decorate my bookshelves.

Many years later, I was in Washington DC with my friend Nick Townsend [Dr Nolly] visiting our friend Sabina. We travelled by Greyhound from New York via Philadelphia for a 24 hour visit. We arrived in the evening and the following day, we spent the morning wondering around George Town where Sabina used to live. We met her for lunch at the World Bank [where she had worked] and then we went for our ‘two men march’ around town. We saw many of the historical places [in a rush] and even managed to find our way to the National Art Gallery. As we walked in the security guard told us they were about to close. We begged him to allow us few minutes. “You got five minutes”, he told us. Nolly and I ran in different directions.

Somehow my intuition leads me to a wing in the first floor. As I walked in a very special painting was waiting for me. Arshile Gorky's The Artist and His Mother. This was the very same picture that was on the cover of my book ‘My Name is Asher Lev’. It was a moment of unexpected joy. Life sometimes has beautiful surprises. I had the book with me again, but I had hardly had time to read more than a single page. As I contemplated the picture, I promised to myself ‘one day’ I would finish it.

In 2007, Marie and I travelled to Peru. You can guess which book I took with me. Three weeks of intense travelling across Peru did not stop us feeding our souls with this magnificent book. After a long day travelling we would finish up the day with a nice meal followed by a glass or two of wine and then go to our room where we took turns reading portions of the book out loud until one of us fell sleep. Marie loved the book so much she read at every available minute, and finished first. Eventually I finished too.

‘My Name is Asher Lev’ was a very special book. It spoke to me at so many different levels. I related to the central theme and I connected with the story in a deep and profound way. I don’t know why I never managed to read it before... but maybe it was not the time, maybe I was not ready. Everything in life has its moment and time.

Recently, Tate Modern, I missed the opportunity to see a whole exhibition of Arshile Gorky’s works. I had planned so many times the trip to London to see it, but each time something came up and I dropped my plans promising myself ‘next time’. Next time never did come, but that’s okay, everything has its moment and, like the book, I will bide my time ‘til then and hope the wait will have been worth it.

"There's a Right Time for Everything
There's an opportune time to do things,

a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (The Message)

Todo en la vida tiene su momento y tiempo

A finales de 1998, fui a visitar a mi amigo Juan Manuel ['El Chino Catalán'] a Holanda. No nos habíamos visto desde que deje Barcelona en 1987. Fue maravilloso volver a verlo y conocer a su familia. JM fue muy bueno conmigo, un gran amigo. El me introdujo al jazz -en particular el free jazz- la obra de Abraham Heschel y Gazpacho. Por aquel entonces JM estaba tratando de perfeccionar su holandés leyendo libros en el idioma, el libro que estaba leyendo en esos tiempos era 'Mi Nombre es Asher Lev’ de Chaim Potok. Según JM este libro era un clásico y así me animo a que lo leyere tambien. Cuando regrese al Reino Unido, me compré el libro. Empecé a leer lo muchas veces pero nunca pude ir mas allá del primer capítulo y así con el tiempo el libro se perdió entre los muchos otros libros no leídos que duermen en mi estantería.

Varios años después de vacaciones en Nueva York, con mi amigo Nick Townsend [Dr. Nolly] fuimos a visitar a nuestra amiga Sabina a Washington DC. Viajamos en Greyhound desde Nueva York, parando en Filadelfia por una noche y seguir nuestro viaje el día siguiente para una breve visita de 24 horas. Llegamos tarde en la noche a tiempo para cenar con Sabina. Al día siguiente, pasamos la mañana paseando alrededor de George Town donde Sabina solía vivir. Al medio día nos reunimos con ella para almorzar en el Banco Mundial [donde ella trabajaba] y de allí nos fuimos a nuestra "marcha de dos hombres" por la ciudad. Visitamos muchos de los lugares históricos y sin darnos cuenta terminamos en La Galería Nacional de Arte. Al entrar el guardia de seguridad nos advirtió que ya estaban por cerrar. Le rogamos que no diera aunque sea unos minutos. ‘tienen cinco minutos’ nos dijo con una sonrisa.

Nolly y yo corrimos en diferentes direcciones. Mi intuición me llevo a una sala en el primer piso. Sin saber la sorpresa que me daría entre y la primera pintura que me esperaba era la de Arshile Gorky 'El Artista y su Madre'. Esta era la misma imagen en la portada del libro 'Mi Nombre es Asher Lev’. Fue un momento de una alegría inesperada. La vida a veces nos da bonitas sorpresas. El libro estuvo conmigo durante todo el viaje pero lamentablemente no tuvo un solo momento para leer una sola página. Mientras contemplaba la pintura, me prometí a mí mismo leer el libro ‘algún día'.

En 2007, Marie y yo viajamos por el Perú. Usted puede adivinar qué libro me llevé. Tres semanas de intenso viaje a través de Perú no fue razon para no alimentar nuestro espíritu con este magnífico libro. Después de una larga jornada de viaje, terminábamos el día con una buena cena y unos cuántos vasos de vino, para luego refugiarnos en nuestro hotel donde, a pesar del cansancio nos turnábamos para leer en voz alta el uno al otro, hasta que nos quedábamos dormidos. A Marie le gusto tanto el libro que empezó leerlo por sí misma. Ella lo termino primero que yo.

'Mi Nombre es Asher Lev' fue un libro muy especial el cual me habló en varios diferentes niveles. El tema central me toco personalmente y me identifique con la historia de una manera emocional y profunda. No sé por qué nunca antes me las arregle para leer este libro de principio a fin... pero tal vez no era el momento, tal vez yo no estaba listo. Todo en la vida tiene su momento y tiempo

“Hay un tiempo para todo
Todo tiene su momento oportuno;
hay un tiempo para todo lo que se hace bajo el cielo:
un tiempo para nacer,
y un tiempo para morir;
un tiempo para plantar,
y un tiempo para cosechar;
un tiempo para matar,
y un tiempo para sanar;
un tiempo para destruir,
y un tiempo para construir;
un tiempo para llorar,
y un tiempo para reír;
un tiempo para estar de luto,
y un tiempo para saltar de gusto;
un tiempo para esparcir piedras,
y un tiempo para recogerlas;
un tiempo para abrazarse,
y un tiempo para despedirse;
un tiempo para intentar,
y un tiempo para desistir;
un tiempo para guardar,
y un tiempo para desechar;
un tiempo para rasgar,
y un tiempo para coser;
un tiempo para callar,
y un tiempo para hablar;
un tiempo para amar,
y un tiempo para odiar;
un tiempo para la guerra,
y un tiempo para la paz.”

Eclesiastés 3:1-8 (Nueva Versión Internacional)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost Day in our community. I reflected with my congregation that quite often we tend to spiritualize the meaning of Pentecost, ignoring the political and social implications of this amazing event that marked the beginnings of the Christian Church.
In the biblical account of the Book of Acts 2:1-22, the Apostle Peter explained to the crowds that the dramatic experience of Pentecost is in fact the fulfilment of an ancient prophesy from the book of Joel. Quote (from the King James Bible):

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
[Joel 2:28-29]

Pentecost is the empowering of people by the Spirit of God. It is not the empowering of institutions, but people: men and women, young and old. On Pentecost, God makes a choice regarding who are the recipients of this blessing. The King James Bible translation does not obscure the social identity of these people, quite the contrary; it is explicit and clear in saying: ‘servants’ and ‘handmaids’. The whole point of Pentecost was that God was empowering the people at the bottom of the social pyramid, the marginalised, the poor, people on the fringes of society. The servants and handmaids of the world have a very special role in the unfolding mystery of God’s purposes in the church and the world.

But, who are the servants and handmaids of today?

I think this is something we could all think about.

In my own context, they are perhaps the immigrants, the undocumented, doing the jobs no one else wants to do: working in the kitchens, restaurants or take-aways on the high street. They are cleaning our homes or office buildings, labouring the fields, working on building sites, or picking cockles from the seashore. Maybe they’re looking after our children, or working for pimps. No matter, they are amongst us, though the feeling is we do not always want to see them or recognise them. They are the invisible people.

I asked my congregation, many of whom are immigrants, how many speak another language apart from English. Many showed their hands. I invited them to say, ‘God loves you’ in their own native language or dialect. People responded immediately. They stood up, one by one and in loud voice they said, ‘God loves you’ in their own tongue. To this, I replied: ‘God loves you, too’. Somebody in a beautiful South American accent stole my line and said, ‘Dios les ama’. The last person to speak was a little girl, who standing on the chair, facing the congregation, whispered, ‘God loves you’ in her own African dialect.

As they reminded us in so many different languages that God love us, Pentecost become more of a reality for us. In that beautiful moment, on that day, in that place, symbolically the invisible become visible. They found their own voice and we heard God speaking through them. On that day we experienced a truly Pentecost day! We spoke in tongues: The prophecy of Joel was again fulfilled.

To reflect
You and your community address this question:

Who are the servants and handmaids in your society?

Sixty per cent of people in the State of Arizona are supporting a new controversial immigration law, including a lot of Christians and churches.

How are Christians able to support something that goes against the vision of Pentecost?

For more information about this struggle, please visit the website of The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders []

Hablamos en lenguas en el día de Pentecostés

El domingo pasado celebramos el día de Pentecostés en nuestra iglesia. Reflexioné con mi congregación que a menudo tenemos la tendencia de espiritualizar el significado de Pentecostés, haciendo caso omiso de las implicaciones políticas y sociales de este evento que marcó el principio de la Iglesia cristiana.

En el relato bíblico del libro de los Hechos 2:1-22, el apóstol Pedro explicó a la multitud que la dramática experiencia de Pentecostés fue el cumplimiento de una antigua profecía del libro de Joel. En la versión Reyna –Valera 1960 se lee:

“Y después de esto derramaré mi Espíritu sobre toda carne, y profetizarán vuestros hijos y vuestras hijas; vuestros ancianos soñarán sueños, y vuestros jóvenes verán visiones. Y también sobre los siervos y sobre las siervas derramaré mi Espíritu en aquellos días.”
Joel 2:28-29

En la versión King James en ingles, siervos y siervas es traducido servants and handmaids
Esta versión clarifica el grupo social de los recipientes del Espíritu de Dios. Una mejor traducción hubiera sido sirvientas y sirvientes.

Pentecostés es el momento en cual Dios dispensa su Espíritu sobre sus elegidos. Dios no dispensa su Espíritu en instituciones, pero en personas: hombres y mujeres, jóvenes y ancianos. En Pentecostés, Dios nos hace conocer su opción por quienes serán los recipientes de esta bendición. La Biblia no oculta la identidad social de estas personas, pero todo lo contrario, lo indica en forma explicita y clara, al declarar: Sirvientes y sirvientas.

El tremendo significado de Pentecostés es que en ese día Dios derrama su Espíritu, su voz profetica en las personas en la base de la pirámide social, los últimos de la fila, los discriminados, los pobres, las personas al margen de la sociedad. Los sirvientes y sirvientas del mundo según Pentecostes, tienen un papel muy especial en la forma misteriosa como Dios avanza sus propósitos en la iglesia y el mundo.

¿Quiénes son los sirvientes y sirvientas de hoy?

Creo que esto es algo que merece una reflexión seria por parte de todos.

En mi propio contexto, quizá ellos podrían ser los inmigrantes, los indocumentados, aquellos que están haciendo los trabajos que nadie quiere hacer. Ellos son los que trabajan en las cocinas de los restaurantes o cualquier take-away. Ellos están limpiando nuestros hogares o las oficinas, ellos están trabajando en los campos de cultivo, cosechando verduras y frutas, ellos están en las obras de construcción, o recogiendo berberechos en las playas. Tal vez ellos están cuidando a nuestros hijos, o trabajando para algún chulo cualquiera. No importa donde están o que hacen, ellos están entre nosotros, aunque no queramos verlos o reconocerlos. Ellos son los invisibles de nuestra sociedad.

Le pregunte a mi congregación, muchos de los cuales son inmigrantes, ¿cuántos hablan otro idioma aparte del Inglés. Muchos mostraron sus manos. Les invite a que digan en su propia lengua o dialecto: "Dios te ama". La gente respondió de inmediato. Se pusieron de pie, uno a uno y en voz alta dijeron: 'Dios te ama’ a lo cual yo les respondí: 'Dios te ama también ". Alguien en un hermoso acento sudamericano me robo mi parte y dijo: 'Dios les ama’. La última persona en hablar fue una niña, que parándose en la silla para que todos la vieran y mirando a la congregación, susurró: "Dios les ama" en su propio dialecto africano.

Dios nos recordó en este día que él nos ama en más de una lengua. En este día, Pentecostés se convirtió en más de una realidad para todos nosotros. En este momento único y maravilloso, en este día, en este lugar, simbólicamente los invisibles de nuestra sociedad se hicieron visibles. En este día ellos encontraron una vez más su propia voz y así oímos a Dios hablar a través de ellos. ¡En este día, tuvimos un verdadero Pentecostés! Hablamos en lenguas: La profecía de Joel se cumplió una vez más.

Para Reflexionar
reflexiona con tu comunidad la siguiente quistión.

¿Quiénes son simbólica y literalmente los sirvientes y sirvientas en tu sociedad?

El sesenta por ciento de las personas que viven en el Estado de Arizona en USA han apoyado la nueva ley de inmigración la cual es bastante controversial. Sin duda alguna entre esos sesenta por ciento hubo muchos cristianos e iglesias que apoyaron esta ley.

¿Esta ley no es una negación de la visión de Pentecostés?
¿Tu qué piensas?
Para obtener más información acerca de esta lucha, por favor visite la página web de la Coalición Nacional Latina de Ministros y Líderes Cristianos []

Friday, 7 May 2010


We just finished our dinner, some pasta in red-wine sauce with roast chicken; I cooked. Marie was in the kitchen with Buckito making some tea and the doorbell rang. I waited for Marie to open the door.

Who is ringing the bell at such a time I thought? I convinced myself it must be one of her Boden deliveries and settled back. The bell rang again. Buckito (French bulldog pup) ran to the door and sat there quietly without barking. Reluctantly I got up, ‘I am going to miss this new episode of the Simpsons’, I said to myself. And I opened the door.

“Good evening sir, I would like to offer you my gardening services,” said the young guy in a green sweater – a bit like Ned Flanders.

I am sorry, I said, but I am afraid we do not need a gardener right now. He challenged me, “Do you do your own gardening?” No, I said, my wife does it. Looking around he asked, “Does she enjoy it?”

Actually, she does, she really likes her gardening, I said with a grin. “Sir, I see the sticker of a fish in your door, are you a Christian?” Yes, I am. I replied. Seeing as you ask, I am the vicar of the church in the city centre. “I am Christian too”, he said. “Can I tell you what happened to me last summer?”

He was a nice young guy and as I was genuinely interested, so I invited him to tell me. Sure, I said, what happened?

“Last summer I was at this Christian festival [he told me which one] and at the main service this preacher from New Zealand preached to us that the most important thing in life is wisdom.”

“Wisdom!” he repeated, “the preacher didn’t even mention Jesus. No Jesus at all just wisdom.” “I wasn’t going to stand for that so I ran onto the stage and I rebuked him and told everybody that the most important thing in our lives is not wisdom but Jesus.”

The young guy then went on to tell me he was then physically restrained, removed from the stage and taken to a psychiatric hospital for assessment.

“Can you imagine,” he said. So much for freedom of speech then, I said. “What’s your opinion?” he asked.
Well, I think it is clear that Jesus came to share not just the wisdom of God but He embodied the wisdom of God. The preacher should have made that connection. Maybe he forgot...
“Jesus is wisdom right”, the young guy said.
“Can you pray for me”, he asked.
“I’m studying theology in Oxford and I am going out with a girl who is not Christian.”
Which college?
He told me.
Is she a good girl?
“Oh yeah, she’s great, but she’s not Christian and you know what St Paul said.”
Yes, I do. However, I also believe that things happen to us for a reason. If this girl loves you and your faith, surely, something of God’s blessing will spill on her too and who knows, maybe she will decide to share your path, too. Listen, she came into your life for some reason, it is worth exploring why. Maybe she brings to you something you need to learn? She may come with a message for you. Do not dismiss her just because she is not ‘Christian’. Go with the flow and see where God is leading you. “Thank you”, he said, smiling. “Good-bye.”

God bless you. I really mean that, I said. God bless you.

I really hope someone will give him a job.


Acabamos de terminar nuestra cena, pasta en salsa roja y pollo asado. Yo cocine. Marie estaba en la cocina con Buckito preparando el te cuando el timbre sonó. Mi presunción fue que Marie iría a ver quién era. El timbre sonó otra vez. Mi presunción se equivoco. ¿Quién puede ser a esta hora? Pensé. Quizá es el currier de Boden con alguna cosa que ordeno Marie. El timbre volvió a sonar. Buckito (un cachorro bulldog francés) corrió hacia la puerta y se sentó en silencio sin ladrar. Me levanté de mala gana y fui a ver quién era. ‘me voy a perder este nuevo episodio de los Simpsons’ me dije a mí mismo. Abrí la puerta.
‘Buenas noches señor, me gustaría ofrecerle mis servicios de jardinero’ dijo el muchacho que vestía una chompa verde como Ned Flanders. ‘Lo siento, pero lamentablemente no necesitamos los servicios de jardinería en este momento’ Él me retó. ‘¿Usted cuida su jardín Señor?’ No, le respondí, mi esposa lo hace. Mirando a su alrededor me volvió a preguntar ‘¿A ella le ha gusta trabajar en el jardín?’
‘La verdad es que si’ le dije con una sonrisa.
‘Señor, en su puerta veo el signo del pez ¿es usted cristiano?’
‘Sí, somos cristianos’. Le respondí. ‘Aun mas, soy el ministro de la iglesia en el centro de la cuidad’
‘Yo también soy cristiano’, me dijo, añadiendo. ‘¿me deja que le cuente lo que me pasó el verano pasado?’ Intrigado por su historia le pedí que me contara. ‘Cuéntame ¿qué te pasó?’
‘El verano pasado fui a un Festival Cristiano [me dijo cual] donde el orador principal de Nueva Zelandia dijo en el servicio principal que lo más importante en la vida es la sabiduría.’
‘¡Sabiduría!’, volvió a repetir con alarma. ‘el predicador no menciono a Jesús ni una sola vez solo sabiduría…sabiduría! Yo no iba a tolerar eso, así que corrí al frente, me subí al tablado, cogí el micrófono y reprendí al predicador y le dije a todos en el auditorio que lo más importante en la vida no es sabiduría, sino a Jesús’.
El joven me conto que los ujieres lo sacaron a la fuerza y lo llevaron a un hospital psiquiátrico para que lo evaluaran. ‘¿Se imagina?’ Exclamo.
‘¿Se olvidaron de la libertad de expresión no?
‘¿Cuál es su opinión?’
Bueno, creo que está muy claro que Jesús vino a compartir no sólo la sabiduría de Dios, pero Él encarno la sabiduría de Dios. El predicador hubiera hecho esa conexión. Tal vez se le olvidó...
‘¿Jesús es la sabiduría de Dios ¿verdad?’
‘Por favor ore por mi’
Claro, ‘¿por algo en particular?
‘Mire, estoy estudiando teología en Oxford y tengo una enamorada que no es cristiana’
¿Es ella una buena chica?
‘Oh sí, ella es muy buena, pero el problema es que no es cristiana y usted ya sabe lo que dice San Pablo’.
‘Sí, lo sé muy bien. Sin embargo, también creo que las cosas no suceden por casualidad, todo tiene una razón. Si esta chica te quiere a ti y respeta tu fe, sin duda alguna, algo de la bendición de Dios que está en ti también le salpicara a ella y quién sabe, tal vez algún día en el futuro ella decida compartir tu fe también. Ella ha entrado a tu vida por alguna razón, creo que vale la pena explorar por qué. Quizás hay algo que necesitas aprender y ella te puede ayudar. Quizás ella viene con un mensaje de Dios para ti. No descartes esa posibilidad solo porque ella no es una "cristiana". Deja que el Espíritu te guie, déjate llevar por el Espíritu de Dios.
‘Gracias’, dijo, sonriendo. ‘Adiós’.
‘Dios te bendiga’. Le dije con pura sinceridad.
Ojala alguien le ofrezca algún trabajo.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Colour Of My Thoughts

Originally uploaded by Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele
Noah’s Ark - 2009
Click the picture or the links to see a selection of limited edition giclee prints from my last exhibition


Baptism of Christ
Tempera on panel, 167 x 116 cm
National Gallery, London
Piero della Francesca (ca.1422-1492)

This picture has a secret. It is in front of your eyes. [Google the image to see it enlarged.] Maybe, if you spend a few minutes looking at it carefully you might just be able to see it; take your time. Anything? Nothing?
Somehow, I doubt you will notice. People don’t, though we not sure why. But, don’t worry, I will tell you the secret. However, let us first put things into context so we can understand the significance.
Piero de la Francesca, the artist, was a painter with a deep interest in mathematics, arithmetic, algebra, perspective and geometry. He wrote books about it. He knew all about proportion and balance. However, in this painting he contravenes the rules of proportion in one small but significant detail of the painting. Can you see it now?

Look closely at Christ’s ears, they are you will notice out of proportion! They are BIG to say the least! At first glance it’s very difficult to notice because they blend well with the colour and texture of His hair. They are almost camouflaged. But now I have told you what to look for, I have made it easier for you to notice this for yourself.
For a painter who is a master of proportion the decision to paint super-size ears is quite intriguing. Why did the artist paint Jesus’ ears like that? Was it a mistake? Absolutely not! The big floppy ears of Jesus was intentional and it is the raison d'être of the painting. Like all good Icons, this painting is a window into the mystery of God. It is about being still and listening, about something you cannot paint: the voice of God.
Jesus’ face says it all: He is listening, concentrating, disturbed by nothing. Is He listening to murmurings from the crowd? Is He listening to the words of John the Baptist? NO! No, He is listening to the voice of God. And God is whispering, ‘You are my beloved’.

Henry Nouwen once said, the only words God whispers to us are, ‘You are my beloved’. This is enough. This is all we need to know: You, me, we are the beloved.
This painting is about listening to and hearing the voice of God. It is an invitation to join Jesus in listening to the voice of God whispering to us, ‘You are my beloved’. How would you depict the voice of God? In this painting we are given the solution. Next time you visit the National Gallery in London go and rejoice in the secret of this painting and listen to see if you can hear that whisper.