Station 12 – Jesus diesPosted: April 6, 2012
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Swimming against the flow
As a queer Puerto Rican migrant—in the United States, Master of Divinity Student of McCormick Theological Seminary, fine artist, fine artist professor, art director for advertising, part of a fourth generation of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministerial family, living in the exile struggling with other language, other culture—it is a very intense way to understand the mystery of the cross.
To be here for me is a very hard decision. It has required from me a redesign of my life, also a deep understanding of the call that I have from God and the reasons to decide to leave my country and come here to earn a theological education and see other fields to develop the ministry.
I decided to participate in this project first of all because I am an artist and a theological student. I felt a conviction to enter in a theological conversation around the experience that I carry in my suitcase and the process of the cross for Jesus Christ and how that process has related to me as an immigrant. I chose charcoal to develop this project because it fit better to the concept of the cross, lent and the connection between us. The ashes are a strong symbol in our experience as Christians. And charcoal is also my favorite art medium.
What for me is in the cross? How do I feel this new crucifixion process relates to me and to others who have passed this situation? How can I connect with people who have to go out of their countries to find a “safe” space to develop our lives in the pastoral ministry?
The migrant situation is a fragmented process. The struggle of dealing with this situation is a constant redesigning process, and everyone who experiences this process has different ways to address themselves to this condition.
Reflecting a fragmented understanding of the immigrant I decided to use a polyptych (various pieces joined together by a theme or divided by sections). Each piece is related with the areas that I identified I am struggling with: food, language, theological positions, identity, and response to the call of the cross.
To approach the mystery of the cross in my case, is a constant contingency process. I find in this way that to respond to the claims of the cross is challenging me. I have to hang on the cross some issues that I have to figure out.
We have to be conscious about our calvaries (our greatest sufferings) in order to let them die and hope for resurrection of a new life. We have some calvaries that we have to leave at the cross in order to get beyond those issues and trust in the reason that Jesus died on the cross. So I left my calvaries at the foot of the cross of Jesus in the conviction that he takes all our charges, all that we have been guilty of, and carries that burden for us in the cross of Calvary.
What are your calvaries? Are you able to identify them in relation with your spiritual life? How are you dealing with them?
Have you the capacity to trust in the power of the cross and leave your charges and calvaries at the bottom of the cross?
Even when other forces, other powers, are pushing us back, God, Jesus, and the cross make it possible for us to swim forward as the salmon swim against the flow with trust.
Sergio D. Centeno
McCormick Theological Seminary
Charcoal , graphite and water on paper. 35” x 5”
Scripture related to this station is in the comments of this post.