What if God was one of us…

Sorry for the shameless use of the first line of the 90’s hit song “One of Us” by Joan Osborne to get your attention for reading this blog post, although it does relate somewhat to the content of this post…

It goes without saying that Marisa and I are learning a lot from our new experiences and encounters here in Nicaragua.  We are encountering on a daily basis people who often think and act in ways that seem different or strange to us.  These encounters can be both frustrating and enriching.  One of the most enriching, challenging, and perhaps life-changing things that we’ve encountered here in Nicaragua is the faith and understanding of God from the perspective of the economically poor.  We are relearning what it means to serve the “God of the Poor” and to follow a Savior who came “bringing good news to the poor”. Here in Nicaragua, living among neighbors and fellow Christians who can’t afford many of the things we often take for granted, we’ve begun to get a glimpse of the Christian faith from a different perspective.

The Misa Campesina Nicaragüense/Nicaraguan Peasant Mass has helped me to understand better this “God of the Poor”.  The mass is written from the point of view of rural Nicaraguan farm workers by one of Nicaragua’s most famous singer-song writers, Carlos Mejia Godoy, in collaboration with one of Nicaragua’s most well known catholic bishops, Ernesto Cardenal.  Cardenal founded a small religious community with rural Nicaraguan peasants on the Island of Solentiname in the 1970’s.   The Misa Campesina Nicaraguense is a series of songs that are sung during Catholic mass to guide the worship time.

In addition to being a unique expression of the Christian faith, I also have come to appreciate the mass as being uniquely Nicaraguan.  This comes through in the lyrics, the “Nica” vocabulary and references, and the instruments that are used.  Many of our evangelical Nicaraguan friends, who have many criticisms of the Catholic Church, feel a sense of pride towards the Mass as it represents for them a unique part of their culture and identity.

Following is a YouTube video of a live performance of the “Canto de entrada” or “opening song”, which I think is especially powerful, performed by Carlos Mejia Godoy and his brother Luis Enrique and the lyrics to the song. I will first write them in their original Spanish and then add my own English translation.  Enjoy!

Vos sos el Dios de los pobres,
el Dios humano y sencillo,
el Dios que suda en la calle,
el Dios de rostro curtido,
por eso es que te hablo yo
así como habla mi pueblo,
porque sos el Dios obrero,
el Cristo trabajador.

Vos vas de la mano con mi gente,
luchas en el campo y la ciudad
haces fila allá en el campamento
para que te paguen tu jornal.

Vos comés raspado allá en el parque
con Eusebio, Pancho y Juan José,
y hasta protestás por el sirope
cuando no te le echan mucha miel.

Yo te he visto en una pulpería
instalado en un caramanchel,
te he visto vendiendo lotería
sin que te avergüence ese papel.

Yo te he visto en las gasolineras
chequeando las llantas de un camión,
y hasta petroleando carreteras
con guantes de cuero y overol.

You are the God of the poor,
the human and humble God,
the God that sweats in the streets,
the God with a weather-beaten face.
That’s why I talk to you,
just like my people do,
because you’re the laborer-God,
Christ the worker.

You walk hand in hand with my people,
you struggle in the country-side and in the city
you wait in line out in the worker’s camp
so that they pay you your day’s wage.

You eat shaved ice there in the park
with Eusebio, Panch and Juan Jose,
and you even protest over the sweet syrup
when they don’t pour you enough.

I’ve seen you in the corner store
set up in a haphazard stall
I have seen you selling lottery tickets
and you are not embarrassed by such work.

I have seen you at the gas station
checking the tires of a truck
and even fixing highways
with leather gloves and overalls.

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One Comment on “What if God was one of us…”

  1. Don Says:

    Peterson’s “The Message” translation of John 14 echos your question . . .

    14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
    We saw the glory with our own eyes

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