Today was the first day of an eight-day fast carried out by Presbyterians and friends in Colombia and the U.S.A. who seek to raise awareness about the Free Trade Agreement on the table between our two nations and advocate against its passage. Mamie and Richard, two of my friends and colleagues in Colombia, have written a lot about the FTA in recent weeks, including the fast, which you can learn more about (or join! it’s not too late) at the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship website and in this article from Presbyterian News Service.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia have both issued official statements of opposition to this particular trade agreement and the injustices it is expected to exacerbate should it become law. Whether or not you are able to join in fasting this week, you can act to stop the FTA; this is especially if you are a U.S. citizen. There are many ways to participate, including a petition promoted by the PC(U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness.
I wore white today here in Bolivia, in support of those who are fasting, and asked our partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana Independiente en Bolivia to hold those who fast in the U.S. and Colombia in prayer this week. I plan to make a call to the White House to express my concerns and ask President Obama not to sign this Free Trade Agreement. Will you join me?
Acting together to promote justice and fullness of life is a way to deepen our mutual accompaniment as sisters and brothers in Christ. It isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding, and seeks to follow a model we find throughout the Bible. Mark Koenig has posted an article about the Colombia accompaniment workshop we presented at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation two weeks ago, which includes numerous references to a sermon by Tom Driver on accompaniment as the great theme of the Bible.
Accompaniment is about relationship. It requires us to draw near to one another, to share stories and experiences, to be vulnerable to one another, to respond to one another’s concerns, to encourage one another in love as we journey together in discipleship.
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.