On Sunday, June 29th, we were visited by Odalys & Candido from Cuba. Below is the main body of their message, along with Beth Henricks’s message to the Children of our Meeting.
Children’s Message from Beth Henricks:
So what do I have here? It’s a beach ball, I know, but it represents the world. We have some special guests today, our Friends from Cuba. I want to show you where Cuba is in the world. See the United States? This green island right here is called Cuba. That is where our Friends are from. Do you know how Quakers got to Cuba? Over 100 year ago, that’s a long time, probably before even your grandparents were born, there were two men on a boat. One of them was named Zenus Martin, kind of a funny name, and the other was Lorenzo Baker. They were on a boat sailing around Cuba. Lorenzo had a fruit company and was going to Cuba to get bananas. Lorenzo said to Zenus, “You are a Quaker, and you need to go to Cuba and share the story of Christ and Quakerism there.” Zenus, who was from Iowa, where Ruthie is from, said, “I can’t do that! Leave my home and go to Cuba and start a mission there? I don’t have the money to that.” So Lorenzo, who had the banana company, gave him money to start a mission in Cuba. The Quakers in Iowa gave some money, and then other Quakers around the United States gave money, and Zenus said, “I think God is calling me to Cuba.” And he went. He started a Quaker mission in Cuba and it’s grown since then. So I was thinking about how God talks to us. Sometimes, God talks to us through other people. God talked to Zenus, through Lorenzo, who wasn’t even a Quaker. Sometimes God talks to us through our friends, sometimes God talks to us through our parents. And you know what? Sometimes God even talks to us directly, and we can hear the voice of God.
The Lord calls us. The Lord congregates us. And the Lord unites us in faith. A faith, hope and love. He is present among us to transform our minds, to transform our lives, and to transform our ways. To fill us with hope and joy. In this beautiful morning we greet you, and we welcome you to the house of the Lord. Please receive warm greetings from Cuba Yearly Meeting. We give thanks for the opportunity to be able to share with all of you. We do not have words to gratify God for this special moment. May God bless you all in a very special way.
Scripture Reading of Matthew 16:13-19:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’
I give thanks to God for being here. In this community of Quaker faith, sharing with all of you, Quakers and non-Quakers. I give thanks because the spirit of God goes beyond language and any barrier. For the Spirit, there is only one language, one universal language, and that is the language of love. I am sure that’s the one we are feeling this morning. Before coming to the United States, I could speak, because I had seen movies, and I have spoken to people about this country, but not until I came, and I was able to share with my brothers and sisters my travels, I couldn’t speak certainly about what was lived in the United States. Let’s pray.
Lord and good God, our Friend and brother, Father and Mother of all of our lives, we ask you that in this time you guide us with your spirit. That you will bless us. And that you illuminate the way in which we walk. Allow us to be filled by your spirit, in that we may be able to give thanks to you for the blessing that we are now receiving. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Many times when we go through a path that we have never walked, we are afraid. We feel fear because it is unknown to us, and because we aren’t capable of what we can find there. It means that the fear, it goes away, when we come to know the place. We come to know a place when we live, when we share, and when we are able to feel the pain of others in our own lives. When we walk in their shoes. I ask myself, how much did Peter know Jesus? Peter had walked with him. Had come to know his teachings. Peter was a common man. Peter earned his living by fishing to feed his family. Peter did not know Jesus, and in the moment that he comes and shares his life with Jesus, in the moment that he shares his mistakes and virtues, He opens the doors of his heart to Jesus, so that He can live in him. He eats with him, he hears his teachings, he hears his silence, and he sees his practice of life. It’s when Peter comes to know him.
It is easy to speak about what other people say. Someone can say this, someone else can say that, this person can say something different, but it is very hard to come and say what we know and feel. It meant that Peter was coming into a relationship with Jesus. The knowing that He is the son of God, the living God. To come to know his humanity and his divinity. And to come to know his love for all humanity. To make mistakes and to suffer in that love. It’s when Jesus comes and says, ‘On you I will build my church’. I feel that now every one of us is Peter. In this time, Jesus asks us to have a rooted knowledge of him. We can see his face in all of the people that we see around us. I want you to look to your right and then to your left. You can see Jesus’s face on each one of us. There is the call of Jesus to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. From there, the Quaker knowledge of inner light, interior Christ, and why not interior fire. An interior fire that unites us all beyond the frontiers and barriers of faith. Beyond the barriers of knowledge. What unites us is the love of God and the celebration of the life of Jesus.
How can we now have the knowledge of Jesus? How can we aspire to this divine knowledge? The answer is very close to us. When we love without limits and barriers, and that’s what Jesus did. He loved until it hurt him. Mother Teresa said, “We should love until it hurts.” We will only be capable of loving when we come to know the people around us. When we know their problems, their joys, the things that make them sad and their celebrations, because that’s what Jesus did. He came to know what happen to his disciples and what happened with the people around him. We can only love the things that we know, the things that we can place a sacrificial value on. No one that has a piece of jewelry that is worth ten cents will take care of it like someone who has a piece of jewelry that they paid three thousand dollars for it. For that reason we have to consider our brother and sister like the Christ. In the moment that we can feel that love, that love that hurts enough, that will be the moment that our Lord, Jesus Christ will say, ‘On you, son or daughter, I will build my church.’ This is the great knowledge that Jesus gave us. All of the knowledge, all of the virtue, all of the truth are in these words. This is what I want to leave in your hearts this morning. A poem from Cuba, called Love Is.
To love is to forgive
What is more than to love is to comprehend
Love is to carry on the cross
And to nail yourself onto the cross
Love is resurrection
Lets make out of love our resurrection.
That’s the message that Christ has given us for the rest of eternity. Amen.
If you would like to support the Cuban Friends, please send a donation to Friends United Meeting, 101 Quaker Hill Drive, Richmond, IN 47374. Secure credit card donations can be made at www.fum.org.