Christian Chavarría is the mission developer, and soon to be ordained pastor, of our sister congregation Pueblo de Dios in Calderitas, El Salvador. In this partnership, our communities visit one another, hold each other in prayer, and provide strength and encourage through accompaniment.
Christian, in addition to caring for Pueblo de Dios and assisting Bishop Gomez, is an artist. He has painted crosses that can be found in homes and communities around El Salvador and throughout the globe. He was commissioned to paint a cross for the Lutheran World Federation for the Joint Ecumenical Commemoration that is housed in Sweden.
On Sunday, September 16, we dedicated the two-sided processional cross that Christian painted for our use here at Advent Lutheran Church.
The cross he painted for us reflects important aspects of our relationship with El Salvador.
One side of the cross shows Jesus’ ministry here on earth, among the people. We can see, in the backdrop of the setting sun, the Salvadorian homes and people celebrating his presence. There are two hands reaching from either side, showing the partnership of Pueblo de Dios and Advent Lutheran Church. And at the bottom, the world encompassing the tree of life.
For years, it was forbidden to paint pictures of white doves in El Salvador. An artist could be killed for such an act of sedition. You will now find white doves on almost all of Christian’s crosses.
In an article written for the Lutheran World Federation, Christian recounts memories of “soldiers finding his crosses on a house search when he was still a child, and asking him about the white birds on his early paintings in the traditional Salvadorian style. “I did not give the true reason, that the doves were my wish for peace in the country”, he says. “You were not allowed to say that.”
On both sides of our cross a dove is painted, as both a sign of protest and peace.
The other side of the cross shows the resurrected Jesus with the wounds in his hands, illuminated by the rays of the sun. The halo around Jesus is the same depiction as the halo around the head of Jesus in our main stained glass window in the front of the church.
Represented there are the elements of communion and the scriptures, sacraments and practices that knit our communities, and all disciples of Jesus, together as one community. There is a painting of a lamb at the feet of Jesus. When Christian was last here and preached, it was Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd who watches out for his sheep. And you can see that community gathered, at the foot of the cross, looking to the great shepherd for guidance.
We give thanks to God for this cross that reminds us of our connectedness and God’s abundance. We give thanks to God for this partnership and for the witness of Christian and the people of Pueblo de Dios.
How can you be involved with our Salvadorian-United States partnership?
The Equipo El Salvador Team will be collecting gently used or new clothing (washed) of good quality, and new or gently worn shoes, to bring to El Salvador. Collection dates will span October 7-21. (Collection in box in back of the sanctuary). We are looking for clothing for children and adults, suitable for hot weather. And (gently worn!) shoes. Women's blouses and skirts, work clothes. (Please no jeans or t-shirts.)
The clothing is given to Pueblo de Dios and then is sold to the Calderitas community for a nominal amount. It is a small fundraiser for Pueblo de Dios and gives the residents of Calderitas the opportunity to purchase things for their families and not be recipients of charity.