It was at our annual caucus meeting of MARCHA — Metodistas Asociados Representando la Causa Hispana Americana — when these words first popped into my head. We were engaged in deep community dialogue around the question, “What words or phrase would best describe the Latinx community right now?”
As you can imagine, the answers were as diverse as my community is. Contrary to what most people think, we do not all think alike or vote alike or even do theology alike. There are, however, some core values that most of us share. One of those great values is always experienced at MARCHA. Our plenaries might be full of deep conversation, disagreement and even, dare I say, some tussling as we grapple with all of our differences in the midst of our commonalities. Our discussions often break us out in small committees to discuss how we can strategize and better advocate on behalf of our communities and the world. We are not afraid of the hard conversations we need to have with each other, because we know that in the end our communities will be stronger for having had them.
Then comes Saturday night. After a lot of our work is done, or almost done, we hold an annual banquet to celebrate those from among us who have excelled in their witness that year. After dessert, we have a time to gather around a piano, pull out our guitars, guiros, congas, and maracas to celebrate our ability to fiesta.
We do fiesta because it is the one thing we have learned to do in order to resist and become resilient in the face of evil and oppression. Fiesta, because even when everything around us is trying to take away our song, our joy, and our dance, we somehow find a way to form a new song and a new dance out of nothing.
It is really quite remarkable because it’s not just about how we fiesta. It is also a witness to the diversity of our fiesta. Mexican mariachi songs, Colombian cumbias, Central American marimbas, and Caribbean salsa all show up in this celebration, and none of us feels like a stranger. Even though we may not have grown up singing each other songs, love has a way of making each other’s songs feel like home. In fact, recognizing that in our diversity lies our bi-culturality, we even are known to throw in some Michael Jackson and Carlos Santana.
Before we know it, even the hotel staff has joined us. This is what fiesta does. It strengthens and renews us. It empowers and emboldens us to sing our songs even in a foreign land (Ps. 137:4). So, in the face of fear, fiesta! In the face of oppression, fiesta! In the face of the unknown, fiesta! Because fiesta is an act of resistance! Fiesta es un acto de resistencia.
Rev. Lydia Muñoz is a passionate community advocate, therapist, and musician. She is lead pastor at Swarthmore United Methodist Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and an ordained Elder in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Content originally published on "Emerging: God Is Doing a New Thing in United Methodism," June 30, 2020.