Sunday, July 29, 2012

Remembering the body of Christ

A post-Communion responsive reading for August 5. This was written with the idea that it could be used as part of the Disciples' Generous Response.

Reader 1:
Christ, our Teacher—
we have done as you have commanded us.
We have broken bread and blessed it
in remembrance of your body.

Jesus, we remember your body.

Reader 2:
Christ, our Savior—
we remember that we are your body.
Through baptism and the gift of the Spirit,
you have united us to yourself with an unbreakable bond.
How can we ever adequately thank you?

Jesus, we remember your body.

Reader 3:
Christ, our Advocate—
we remember that all who have been baptized
are beloved and necessary members of your body.
Help us see and uphold the worth of every member of your church.
Teach us to love one another, and to be one.

Jesus, we remember your body.

Reader 4:
Christ, our Head—
we remember that because we are your body,
we are the hands and feet through which you act in this world.
We offer our gifts to your service.
Use us as your instruments to bless the lives of others.

Jesus, we remember your body.

[The Leader then offers a prayer for the Blessing and Receiving of "Abolish Poverty, End Suffering" Contributions and Mission Tithes.]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Come and be fed

A responsive call-to-worship for July 29:

1st Reader
(Leader):       The Lord invites all to come and partake of his goodness!
All:                Lord—we have come to be fed.

2nd Reader:   When the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness,
                     the Lord provided for them with manna and quails.
All:                Lord—we, too, have come to be fed.

3rd Reader:    When Lehi and Sariah’s family were in danger of starving in the desert,
                     the Lord showed them where to hunt for game.
All:                Lord—we, too, have come to be fed.

4th Reader:    When a widow of Zarephath and her child ran out of bread, and out of hope,
                     the Lord gave them flour and oil that never ran out.
All:                Lord—we, too, have come to be fed.

5th Reader:    When a crowd who had traveled to hear Jesus needed to eat,
                     he multiplied a few loaves and fishes and gave them all their fill.
All:                Lord—we, too, have come to be fed.

6th Reader:    When the Lord brought the Latter Day Saints to Independence, Missouri,
                     he commanded them to prepare a feast for the poor, and for all people.
All:                Lord, we are willing—but we, too, need to be fed.

1st Reader
(Leader):       The Lord says: “Come to me, all you ends of the earth.
                     Buy milk and honey, without money and without price.”
All:                Lord—we have come to be fed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stripling warriors in Bountiful

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Unfair, carping response: Of course. Because Utah Mormon Republicans wouldn't regard the hippie generation preceding this one--the generation who buried their weapons of war--as worthy role models for their adolescent males.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First-Friday service

Every month, on the first Friday, I lead a service of contemplative song and prayer, held in the side chapel of the local Episcopal church. This month, the theme was "Christ, judge of the nations." I chose that theme to try to pull against the nationalistic fervor of the Fourth of July weekend.

Here are the readings and prayers. As usual, the renderings of scripture are my own, created in consultation with a range of translations.


ISAIAH 26: 4-9, 12-13

Holy God,
in you we trust forever!
You are a rock that stands through all the ages.

The strength of the loftiest city
cannot compare to your power.
In time, that city will be left a ruin—
toppled, leveled to the ground.
The poor will scavenge in the rubble;
the homeless will take shelter there.

God of justice,
you clear away obstructions
from the path of those who do right.
To you we look for righteous judgment.
Your name is our dearest hope.

My heart yearns for you by night,
and in the morning, still I seek for you.
For when your judgments are fulfilled on earth,
then all the world will learn what is just.

Holy One, give us peace!
We have suffered because of our wrong-doings—let it end!
Sovereign God, others beside you have ruled over us,
but your name only do we praise.



I saw an angel
flying across the sky,
sent to proclaim good news
to all who live on earth—
every race,
every tribe,
every language,
every nation.

The angel shouted:
“Praise God,
and give reverence,
for the hour of judgment has come!
Worship the One
who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all flowing waters!”


MATTHEW 25: 32-40

When the Promised One comes in glory,
escorted by all the angels,
he will sit in judgment
with all the nations assembled before him.

Then he will divide them into two groups,
as a shepherd sorts the sheep from the goats—
the sheep on the right,
the goats on the left.

He will say to those at his right hand:
“God’s blessing is upon you!
Come—receive the inheritance set aside for you
when the world was created.

“For when I was hungry, you gave me food.
When I was thirsty, you gave me drink.
When I was a stranger, you took me in.
When I was destitute, you provided for me.
When I was sick, you took care of me.
When I was imprisoned, you came to me.”

Then the righteous will answer: “But sir—
when did we see you hungry, and give you food?
Thirsty, and give you drink?
A stranger, and take you in?
Destitute, and provide for you?
Sick, and take care of you?
Imprisoned, and come to you?”

Then he will answer them:
“This is the truth:
Whenever you did it
to any
of my sisters or brothers,
you did it to me.”



Jesus Christ,
loving guardian, righteous judge—
we pray today for our nation.

We pray for justice and equity in our land.
We pray for harmony, prosperity, and generosity.
We pray for government that is wise and good.

We pray for our nation’s poor and others who are in need.
May the hungry be fed.
May the destitute be provided for.
May the sick be cared for.

We pray for those who are strangers among us.
We pray for those who are in prison
and those who are imprisoned in spirit.

We pray for peace.
We pray for those who are threatened by violence.
We pray for our enemies.



you are both our judge
and our advocate.
When your justice rebukes us,
your love envelopes us,
and we are renewed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

7/1/1992 - FEDOPO

This post is part of a series of explorations of Dominican society that I'm doing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of my LDS mission to the Dominican Republic. Links to the other posts in the series appear at the bottom of this one.

Twenty years ago at this time, I was living in Guaricano, a squatters barrio at the northern edge of Santo Domingo. I was one of the missionaries who "opened" Guaricano to LDS missionary work, meaning I was part of the first companionship permanently assigned to this community (other missionaries had visited periodically). We started work here in April 1992; by July, I believe we were holding church in a rented house, but for the first little while, we borrowed the building of FEDOPO, a local NGO. I taught a weekly English class for FEDOPO as well, for community service. And FEDOPO is what I want to explore in today's post.

Our fledgling LDS branch, posing outside FEDOPO's building in summer 1992.

FEDOPO is the Federación Dominicana de Organizaciones Populares--the Dominican Federation of Popular Organizations, "popular" meaning something like "grassroots." As I've been poking around online the past few weeks to learn about the organization, my understanding is that they were founded in the early 1990s--which means they would have been new when I was on my mission--and they're an umbrella organization encompassing 120 local organizations in Santo Domingo, though I know nothing about the constituent organizations.

FEDOPO was--is--dedicated to community development. When I was in Guaricano, they ran a very small clinic, with literally a closet-full of basic medical supplies. When we were using their building for church, the mission "paid rent" by donating medical supplies. I mentioned the English class I taught for them. They did sewing classes, as I recall. I sat in on a meeting where they discussed trying to find a way to clear drug dealers out of a particular hangout. One day, I got on a bus and found that FEDOPO was passing out leaflets protesting the fact that the bus conductors treated people like cattle. A senior missionary couple who assisted our work in Guaricano--i.e., organizing the donation of medical supplies--were in conversation at one point with the head of FEDOPO about funding a school in Guaricano after they returned to the U.S., but I don't think that ever came to fruition.

My last contact with FEDOPO was in 1997, four years after my LDS mission, when I returned to the Dominican Republic to do community development work with a Roman Catholic program. During a visit to Guaricano, I passed by FEDOPO's building; they were in the process of putting up a second story. That is, they were just getting started on this--this photo stunned me when I found it online.

FEDOPO's two-story clinic. Photo taken from an undated report by Case Western engineering students.

In my recent online searches, I discovered that in the late 1990s, FEDOPO was contacted by a professor in the medical school at Case Western, upstate from where I am now. That contact led to various groups of Case Western students--medical, dental, and engineering students--traveling to Santo Domingo to work stints in FEDOPO's clinic and to help with electrical and water issues in FEDOPO's building. That program seems to have continued into the mid-2000s, though its online footprint disappears after that. I did, however, make contact with one of the Case Western professors, who phoned me a couple months ago to tell me that the trips down to the DR continue; I got the sense, though, that their work wasn't so closely tied to FEDOPO anymore.

I need to say something about the head of FEDOPO, William Castillo. I had a lot of respect for him, for the work he did--I still do, I suppose, though we haven't been in touch since my last visit to Guaricano in 1997. (We just yesterday became Facebook friends, though. It still boggles my mind I can do that now.) He was a mover and a shaker, and he seems to have a notable presence in Santo Domingo's labor movement. When I was a missionary, I saw photos of him taken during a major strike, and he told me about a meeting he'd had with President Balaguer to negotiate an end to the strike. More recently, he's quoted in this news story (from Sept. 9 of an unlisted year--great web design, Diario Libre) warning the Dominican government that workers won't stand for fiscal reform measures that raise the prices on necessity goods. In 2009, he ran for public office, though I haven't been able to find out if he won. (Which probably means he didn't?)

Apparently he visited Case Western in the late 1990s, which  seems so weird to me, even though it shouldn't. He's been in the same state I live in now. In fact, he got here before me. There's globalization for ya.

William Castillo (right) with a member of Case Western's medical faculty, speaking on community television. Photo by lifeinterstitial, Flickr.

Two William Castillo memories:

First memory: One night, I arrive at FEDOPO (for my English class, it must have been) to be informed that William has gone into hiding because someone tried to shoot him. My recollection is that the shooting attempt was understood to be politically motivated.

Second memory: One day I go into FEDOPO's little back office--looking for chalk, probably--and see a poster on the wall with a hammer and sickle and a marching crowd with upraised fists. For a 19-year-old BYU undergrad, that was startling. Around that same time--probably afterward, i.e., cause and effect--I gave a "discussion" to William and a couple other FEDOPO people about LDS church welfare, to explain that for us concern about people's temporal welfare is tied to concern for their spiritual welfare, yadda yadda. (I don't recall having a companion with me for that discussion, which was, um, yeah... not unusual for a certain period of my time in Guaricano.) In the course of the presentation, I was talking about the ideal of Zion, and I quoted Acts 2:44, about how the early saints had all things common. The FEDOPO guys chuckled appreciatively, and William said, "Sounds communist to me." I could tell he was half-teasing, so I half-joked in response, "William, please, I'm an American; we don't like the word 'communist.'"

I want to conclude with a prayer for William, and everyone else connected with FEDOPO, and for their work. (Though as much as they might appreciate my prayers, I suspect they'd probably find a donation more useful. That will nag at me in a healthy way.)
May God's favor be upon them.
May God prosper the work of their hands.
O prosper the work of their hands!
(Psalm 90:17)

La bondad de Dios esté sobre ellos.
Afirma, oh Dios, su trabajo!
Afirma, sí, su trabajo!
(Salmo 90:17)
Other posts in this series: 
5/6/1992 - Guaricano
4/1/1992 - First day in Guaricano
2/5/1992 - The Zona Franca
12/4/1991 - La Romana
11/6/1991 - My first day in the Dominican Republic
10/9/1991 - Entered the MTC
9/4/1991 - Waiting to serve
8/1/1991 - Mission call