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The Bench in Laramie, WY

The only places I wanted to see in Laramie, WY were the Matthew Shepard bench (at the University of Wyoming) and the site where he was dumped. Matthew was just 21 years old when he was tortured and left for dead. He later died succumbing to his wounds while in hospital.

Hate killed him that night. One of his attackers had previously expressed anti-gay sentiment and targeted Matthew in a bar.

The place Matthew Shepard was left for dead.

When we arrived at the bench that memorialized him I couldn’t help but think of the trauma he went through before he died. My thoughts moved to his parents losing a child. Selfishly, my mind turned to my two children. “I don’t want my children’s names to end up on a bench,” I said to myself over and over. Tears rolled down my face. Little did I know a bench would evoke in me such an emotional reaction. Even though I was on retreat, I Facetimed my kids from the bench just to tell them I loved them.

People are still beaten and killed, they are still thrown out of their houses, they are still looked at with disgust just for being gay. I used to be a person who thought being gay was immoral. God forgive me.

LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.

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Chapel at Chimayo

It seemed appropriate that my cell phone reception cut out about 30 minutes away from the holy site we intended to visit. We were on a two lane highway coming south from Taos, New Mexico to the Sanctuary at Chimayo. The silence from the 90s Alternative music gave me an opportunity to reflect on those who need healing, the site we were going to was known amongst Native Americans and Catholics for it’s healing dirt. Many people who make the pilgrimage walk from miles away as a sign of their devotion, many carry crosses.
There are many legends about how the Sanctuary at Chimayo was founded. The most popular one is that don Bernardo Abeyta saw a light coming form the ground on one of his fields. He dug there with his bare hands to find a crucifix. He took it to a priest who then carried the crucifix to his own church in Santa Cruz and placed it upon the altar there, only to find that it was missing the next day. It was later found back at the place it was discovered in Chimayo. This happened two more times and it was apparent that the crucifix wanted to reside in Chimayo. Abeyta then asked to build a chapel at that spot believing that the crucifix and land it resided on had healing powers.
When we entered the chapel it was evident the reverence shown by the pilgrims. There were people praying, lighting candles, and venerating the different artwork in the chapel. I passed the altar rails and through a small little doorframe to the left. to come into another room full of crutches, a testimony to those who left them there when they had been healed. Through a smaller door was the dirt room where there was a small hole in the ground said to have been were Abeyta unearthed the crucifix. I thought it appropriate that we had to kneel before it in order to retrieve some dirt.
It’s no wonder people call this the Lourdes of Chimayo. People from all over were there seeking to be healed. In Acts 19:12, Paul is able to heal people from handkerchiefs and aprons that he had touched. So, believing that dirt can heal is not a long stretch in the Christian’s imagination.
I do know a universal truth. We are all looking to be healed from something, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. God promises us that through him we will be healed, in this life, or the next. I hold onto those promises as I let the dirt settle into my hands.

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A Case for Online Communion: Or, Why My Brother is Wrong!

I didn’t want to write this because we did a whole podcast on it, but my former Professor from Fuller doesn’t think I care about theology (because I quoted Luther’s words to Jeremy in a Facebook thread), so I felt inclined to prove him wrong. Take that Clay.

BTW: You can find the podcast where we beat this dead horse here

You can also find my brother’s article here…

Some Concessions

The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord made it clear that outside of the use, there is no Sacrament.  That means if it’s not being used for what it was intended it’s not the Sacrament.  I didn’t come up with this, but you can look it up yourself: Solid Declaration: Article 7, line 85.

So, things like solitary masses, or Eucharistic adoration, ocular reception (can someone say spiritual communion?) is not something that I think Lutherans should be on board with because it is not being used for intended purpose.  It really seems like the Solid Declaration was clear on this, at least to me. 

Don’t get me started on the tradition of “fasting from the table.” To me, asking me to fast is grasping for a tradition to justify being uncomfortable. Talk about emotional reasoning!


I agree with my brother and the Solid Declaration that there needs to be some things present in order for the Sacrament to be valid. 

  1. Gathering
  2. Words of Institution
  3. Elements: Wine and Bread
  4. Distribution
  5. Reception

Without these things there is no Sacrament. 

Another Tradition

Why don’t we rely on the tradition of adjusting our practices when there is an emergency? We do this with baptism! Why not with Holy Communion? And I believe that we can do this without straying too far away from the 5 criteria for Communion. 

So here is my suggestions…

  1. Gathering. Yes, we can adjust our conception of gathering. We can gather live online. It’s not as good, but it will do for the time being.  (Caveat: I don’t think recording a service, or watching old communion service is in the spirit of the intention of gathering. It has to be live. I also don’t feel comfortable with mail, drive-by reception, or leaving it out in front of the church for people to receive it.)
  2. Words of Institution. Done, no problem. 
  3. Elements. Well how far do they have to be? Really? Can they be in the same room? Why not just gather the elements together in front of our tables and recognize that whoever is presiding can preside over those elements in front of you?
  4. Distribution. Easy! The pastor says, “This is the body of Christ given for you.” And, “This is the blood of Christ shed for you.” The pastor then gestures for you to receive it. 
  5. Reception: If you are with people you serve each other, if you are along pick them up and consuming them. It’s not as good as someone handing them to you, but again we are operating in emergency times. 

Now, with all of that said I think that once we go back to meeting in person, we abandon the practice…unless another emergency arises and then we do it again.

See things can adjusted slightly and stay within the intention of what Lutherans have held Communion is. 

So Jeremy, you’re wrong.

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My Problem With Anti-Racism Classes

I have talked before about occupying two worlds here Mixed Race, Tortillas, and #DecolonizeLutheranism so I don’t really feel the need to talk about it again. I will say that I am constantly trying to deal with the white privilege that I have while at the same time being Latino and not always understanding were white folk are coming from.

I’ve also attended more Anti-Racism classes than I can remember.  They have taken many forms whether they be 2 hours, 6 hours, or weekend events with multiple sessions. The programs have looked different with some being more engaging than others.

Anyway, in general, my problem with anti-racism classes are not the classes themselves but that everyone attending are at different places.

For some they need to be convinced that systemic racism and white privilege are  real things.  They want it solely make it about the individual action and intentions that people have. And since they don’t have those they can’t be racists. One reason being shown how it works on a systems level is essential to understanding what People of Color experience on a daily basis.

Others strongly believe that racism is a problem still and understand that systemic racism is prevalent but that somehow they stand outside of that problem.  As if being a white liberal exempts them from having bigotry and prejudice in their own hearts. These folks act as if racism is something that exist purely at a systemic reality and they, being enlightened, exist outside of it. White liberals are racist too.

For People of Color, they are made aware that this space isn’t really for them. At one of the most recent events I went to we are asked was that if we had ever had a Latino in our home. My brother responded, “Every damn day.”  Three of us who are Latino started laughing. That wasn’t a questions that was for us. So, I question what is there for us in these events?

I find myself feeling so awkward in these spaces because I am embarrassed for people. Vulnerability could just be white fragility. Anger could just be unprocessed paralyzing white guilt.

Surely there is another way.  Am I being too critical here?


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Books I Read in 2016

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and WhyPracticing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of LoveThe Relational Pastor: Sharing in Christ by Sharing Ourselves


The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of Its Traditional DefenseStrength to LoveDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms YouTaco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered AmericaJesus: The Human Face of God (Icons)

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Doodles on Divorce

So, here is my time to come out to those of you who don’t know.

I am now divorced.

It’s actually been awhile but I haven’t felt the need to talk about it publicly for a variety of reasons. I have been reflecting on myself and the whole process of divorce and have jotted some stuff down throughout the year. Here it goes…

  • Accept emotional roller coasters.
  • Trust your intuitions about relationships. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s most likely not. It really does take two people for a marriage to work.
  • Realize and try to accept that all issues may not be resolved. Life doesn’t always resolve with tidy bows on them.
  • Forgiveness is a daily practice.
  • Divorce affects more relationships than just you and your spouse. More relationships are affected than you will know.
  • Divorce especially sucks if you liked your spouses family.
  • When people ask, try and talk only about what you did wrong, not what your spouse did.
  • If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. Sometimes this means being in the same room and not talking.
  • Families tend to rally around their own. It’s natural for family to want to defend their family member and place blame on the other.
  • No matter how much I want to justify myself, I am also to blame.
  • Take one for the team if you have children. This means having to push things aside for the sake of your children.
  • Children suffer the most. They are the ones who have to travel from house to house.
  • Mourning takes a while. Let it.

(Quick Disclaimer: I recognize that every divorce is different. These were notes I wrote to myself and do not mean for them to be universal in their application. I wrote myself these notes to remind myself of my own ideals.)

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A Primer on White Privilege

I’ve been thinking a lot about white privilege and racism in these United States for a while now. I’ve been collecting articles that I like and feel would be helpful to describe what is going on.  Today I post them.

If you have any contributions please leave it in the comment section of this blog.

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

What I said when my white friend asked for my black opinion on white privilege

Dante and David apply for the same job but only one gets an interview. Here’s the rest of their day.

The racist housing policy that made your neighborhood

Dear White America: which form of protest do you prefer?

Post your articles below.


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Our Lady of Guadalupe (Part 2)

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is amazing to me for two reasons. First is the person of Juan Diego. Second, is the image imprinted on the tilma.

Juan Diego was an Indian who recently had converted to Catholicism. Let’s be honest, these weren’t willing conversions.

Juan Diego received a message of divine revelation in his own context.  In Aztec culture you could be assured that the divine was speaking to you if flowers and songs were present. You’ll notice that at the beginning of the story Juan Diego notices the bird singing before Mary appears. The story ends with the flowers he wrapped in his tilma. The songs of the birds and flowers are confirmation that the divine was present.

The appearance of Mary was given to someone outside the power structure of the Catholic Church. God speaks to an Indian, not the Bishop, and tells him to bring a message to the people in power. The Bishop, the one who is perceived to have the authority of God, is now placed in the position of having to listen to God through the ones that he had subjugated. Just when we begin to believe that God only works through the church and the people God has given to those who are in charge, Mary appears to a poor Indian. It’s like the hot lava of divine revelation had to break through the magma that had solidified at the top of the volcano of institutional powers. So, Juan Diego delivers the message to the powers that be that a church must be built at Tepeyac. (Interesting side note: The hill were the appearance took place was previously a temple to the Aztec Mother Goddess Tonantzin)

The image that was imprinted on the tilma is amazing because of the symbolic meanings that it would have given the indigenous of Mexico. The first is that the girl does not look like a Spaniard, but indigenous. She has dark skin signifying she is like them.  As for the image itself, Virgilio Elizondo writes:

“The lady hides the sun but does not extinguish it. This is most important, for the missionaries were trying to destroy everything of the native religions as diabolical. She is greater than the natives’ greatest manifestation of the deity, the sun, but she does not destroy it. She will transcend, but not do away with. This is the assurance that their ancient way of life will continue, but now reinterpreted through something new and greater. she is standing upon the moon and therefore superior to their second greatest manifestation of the deity.

She wears the turquoise mantle. Turquoise was the color reserved for the supreme deity, who alone could bring harmonious unity out of the opposing forces that governed the universe. Her dress was the pale red  of the blood sacrifices. She had assumed the blood sacrifices of her people and was now offering herself to her people. She appears with hands folded over her heart and pointed in the direction of the people.-the native sign of the offering of self to others.

She who was greater than all their divinities was herself not a goddess, for she wore no mask and her eyes were beautiful. In her eyes, the image of  a person is easily discerned. In her eyes, every generation of Mexicans has seen themselves personally accepted, respected, loved, and valued. There is nothing more life giving than to see ourselves reflected, accepted, and valued in the eyes of  an important other. In the very gaze of the eyes there is rebirth.

This beautiful lady who is truly from above and yet very much on of their own is pregnant, for she wears the waist band of maternity. Furthermore, over her womb, one finds the ancient Aztec glyph for the center of the universe. Thus, she, according to ancient Nahuatl cosmology, has assumed the five previous ages-called suns-and is now the sign of the sixth age. What she offers to the world she carries within her womb; the new center of the universe about to be born in the Americas. Through the lady millions would approach the church for Christian instruction and baptism.”

The Future is Mestizo, pg. 63-64

 After taking this class at the Jesuit Seminary, I understood what she means. She is a sign of liberation for a people who had been oppressed. She is a sign that God doesn’t always work through the power structures. Previous forms religion and culture do not need to be demonized or done away with because of oppressive colonial conversions and rule. Our Lady of Guadalupe carries in her new life for the world, Jesus, who would save us all from even from the ways we abuse Christianity.


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Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Part 1)


Our Lady of Guadalupe has this special place in Mexican culture that I haven’t always understood. My grandmother, aunts, and uncles, would at one point or another urge me to call on her to pray for me and whatever situation I was going through. Growing up Catholic this is no surprise. But, she didn’t really move me all that much.

It wasn’t until I took a class at the Jesuit Seminary at the Graduate Theological Seminary did I being to appreciate her and what she means.

In this post we will learn the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the next post we will learn what the story and image means. It’s actually pretty awesome!

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is written down in a tract published in 1649 in Mexico City by Luis Las0 De la Vega. written in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Luis Laso De La Vega was a vicar at the chapel at Tepeyac. Tepeyac is the hill where the appearances took place.

Here is the story in visual form. (unfortunately I am unable to imbed so click on link to go to Youtube to watch video)

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Mixed Race, Tortillas, and #DecolonizeLutheranism

I am mixed race.  My mother’s roots reside in England and my father’s roots are from Mexico.  While my last name is Serrano, I did not inherit my father’s dark hair or features, except the lines that surround  my eyes, a testimony to indegenious peoples, or so my father claims.

While being so white, and benefiting from white privilege in so many ways, I straddle two worlds. I grew up in San Ysidro, California, a thoroughly Mexican community.  I still remember living with my grandmother who always had different women making tortillas  in the kitchen.  These kind ladies were always willing to share one with me.  I even admit that when they were not looking I might have stolen a couple for consumption outside on the back patio (Sorry Señoras!).

I straddle two worlds because I have never really felt part of one culture or ethnicity.  I was never really seen as Mexican-American by people in my community. The kids at school called us Los Guerros. And, later on, when I went to a predominately white school, I didn’t feel like I belonged either. It was an entirely different culture.

One author writes about the experience of straddling two worlds.  Virgilio Elizondo writes, “Being a Jew in Galilee was very much like being a Mexican-American in Texas. As the Jews in Galilee were too Jewish to be accepted by the gentile population and too contaminated with pagan ways to be accepted by the pure-minded Jews of Jerusalem, so have the Mexican-Americans in the southwest been rejected by two groups.”

Jesus understands fully what it means to stand in two worlds. Elizondo writes, “The fact that Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit means that the people did not know how he had been conceived. According to human standards, he was of doubtful origins, and thus by reason of his very birth he entered into solidarity with the masses whose origins are questioned by those in power.”

By the very nature of the incarnation Jesus understands what it means to be in two worlds. He is able to fully identify with the Galileans. Jesus understands what it means for me (a White-Mexican) to be a person who doesn’t fully feel at home in any culture by the nature of my birth.

It’s interesting that I ended up being Lutheran. There is something by the nature of theology that draws me ever so closely into the primacy of God’s grace. And yet, once again, I sometimes find myself straddling two worlds.

One the one side is the beautiful Lutheran theology that I have come to love. On the other side is the culture from which Lutheran theology  has is roots.

Recently there has been a movement within Lutheranism that has sought to show that one doesn’t have to be of Scandinavian or German decent to be Lutheran. So there have been Memes that say, “You might be a Lutheran if…”

This is not lutefisk.

I think these memes should be listened to. I think people should reflect on their own understanding of what it means to be a Lutheran and show that the primary language of Lutheransim need only be theology not the culture from which it came.

Lutherans, stop and listen to those who are involved in #decolonizelutheranism. They have something valuable to say.

Also check these two people out who have written in this…

Jeremy Serrano This is What a Lutheran Looks Like

Tuhina Rasche DecolonizeLutheranism

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