This blog post is in celebration of Epiphany, which is celebrated on Jan. 6 each year.
Rev. Erica Lea-Simka (she/her/hers) is a graduate of San Jacinto College, Texas A&M University and Truett Theological Seminary. She has also studied as a continuing education student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Eastern Mennonite University and Hebrew College. Pastor Erica has served Baptist and Mennonite congregations and began serving as the pastor of Albuquerque (New Mexico) Mennonite Church in Nov. 2017. She also serves as the Southwest representative for Mennonite Women USA and is an active member of the Mennonite-Jewish Relations Working Group. When not at church or the public library, she can be found cooking, powerwalking, travelling, watching British mysteries and spending time with her interfaith family.
This Advent has been different for my family in deeper ways than I imagined. This December, a crib was assembled for our baby, due in late spring 2023. As my wife and I reviewed our holiday card list, we also made a baby registry list — and checked it more than twice! We have already received an overwhelming outpouring of love, support and even gifts.
As I reflect on this Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season and my personal season of matrescence, I consider what gifts I want to give my daughter:
I want to give my daughter the gift of communal memory, so she will know who she is and where she comes from. The power of shared story cannot be underestimated. I want her to know her Mennonite and Jewish ancestries — not only the triumphant communal memories but the painful, and even unflattering, communal memories. She needs to know where she comes from, in order to know where she is going and how to be an effective leader moving people forward.
I want to give my daughter the gift of the earth. While the earth is not mine to give, it is ours to steward, so that there is something left and life-giving for future generations. Will my daughter know the joy of seeing birds swimming in the water of the Rio Grande, as it faces record-breaking drought, here in New Mexico? Will my daughter know abundance from the earth or merely survival, as arable land struggles to produce in these current corporate-abuse conditions? Will there be any earth left unscorched by global warming and nuclear weapons production or, God-forbid, detonation?
I want to give my daughter the gift of faith that anchors her in life’s storms and also moves her beyond the familiar and possible, toward the mysterious and divine. What type of faith do I cultivate in myself that will be caught, more than taught to, my daughter? In my daughter’s life, I have the sacred responsibility to contribute to the foundation of her faith, which will guide her as she makes decisions that impact her life and those around her. I most want my daughter’s faith to resist hyper-individualism, so that she learns to lean on the saints, near and far, and to trust the faith communities she participates in.
These gifts of memory, earth and faith may not be as immediately impressive as gold, frankincense and myrrh, but they are sacred gifts nonetheless, offered with love and open hands.
What gifts do you bring to generations that will follow you?
The views and opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and are not intended to represent the views of the MC USA Executive Board or staff.
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