Archive for April, 2017

The Gift of La Sobremesa

Post a Comment » Written on April 24th, 2017     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Evelmyn Ivens graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. She enjoys travelling and learning about other cultures. Evelmyn is passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking. She is waiting on what is next.

The Gift of La Sobremesa

Back in September I decided to quit my job, the thing is that it wasn’t just a job but it had been my ministry for 2 ½ years. However, I had reached to a point where I was emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted. I had been so hurt and I was burned out. I jokingly told my friends and family that I was on a sabbatical, and I intentionally took four months off, and all I focused on was on taking care of myself. Attended a music festival with friends, saw Hamilton, went to the Cubs World Series Championship parade, attended a lecture by one of my favorite theologians, Gustavo Gutierrez, visited my family in Mexico for holidays, and was able to spend some time with my grandfather Tomás before his passing. I even picked up on cooking and baking something I never thought would enjoy doing! However, it wasn’t until the beginning of the year that I started looking for job and had the energy and mental capacity to actually write a cover letter and have job interviews.

It has been a challenge to spend my days at home not knowing quite sure what is next, getting bored, and other days worrying about my finances. Yet, in the midst of this journey of the unknown, as I like to call it, God has provided, just as he’s provided in the past, and continues to provide even the most basic needs. God has been so present through my family, friends, and the gift of time. In the last 7 months I have spent time with a community of friends that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Our culture is such, that being busy is the norm, and even thought we may spend time with family and friends, is it really quality time?

A number of years ago as I began to do research for my thesis I landed on the concept of la sobremesa. Sobremesa literally means over the table. In Latinx culture hacer la sobremesa is part of life. Hacer la sobremesa means to stay at the dining table after eating, or to have an after-dinner talk. It is a time to spend with the family. It could be hours of just talking, joking around, laughing while enjoying dessert, coffee, or a cup of hot chocolate. It could also be at the company of friends, while listening to music, enjoying food, and more conversations. Some Latinxs might say that it is a necessary time. La sobremesa could start at lunch time and connect to dinner time. It is also a time where people from different generations interact with each other. It is a time where everyone sitting at the table is at the same level, there are no hierarchies. It is a time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I used this concept to develop the idea of la sobremesa as a contextual expression for Table Fellowship. Throughout the Bible meal-sharing and table fellowship have such deep meanings. There are stories of individuals having a fresh beginning on their relationship over a meal (Genesis 26:26-31), or communities dealing with conflicts of ethnicity and class while eating together (Acts 10:1-11:8 and 1 Cor. 11).

I feel that this is what I being doing for the last 7 months, I’ve been practicing la sobremesa and it has been very healing process. The fact that I have had the time to just be with people, cook, and enjoy hosting. La sobremesa has allowed me to experience God through others in a different way. In one of his first interviews after becoming Pope, Pope Francis (interview in Spanish and Portuguese) talks about projimidad (proximity). He says that humanity has become dehumanized and that there is a globalization of indifference and lack of proximity. Francis encourages for a culture of getting together and for finding ways to do good with others. By doing la sobremesa and experiencing projimidad with others, has been a gift and breath of fresh air in midst of the unknown.

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How Crème Brûlée Became My Lenten Discipline

4 comments Written on April 11th, 2017     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Ellie VerGowe currently serves as Ministerial Resident for Community Outreach at First Covenant Church in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. She is a singer, an artist, a traveler and she is passionate about building relationships and pursuing reconciliation. On the many gray evenings in rainy Seattle, you can find Ellie eating good food with good people.




There’s something about growing up woman that makes many of us feel like we need to give until we break (and then give some more).

Of course selflessness is all apart of our faith, right? Our God became like a servant and became obedient to death…even death on a cross. We are supposed to love others and to give up our lives for our friends! This is scripture, after all. This is the example of our Savior.

But this is something that is already a strength of many women from our social conditioning…from watching the matriarchs of our family and from watching the servanthood of the women at church. This is something most women already know how

to do. It is embedded in our culture and in our hearts.

But while this might seem like a gift, our world teaches women and girls a way of selflessness that leaves us empty and wounded. I have found myself over the years always saying “yes” to whatever people asked of me wherever I found myself. I overworked myself in ministry, working hours over normal work weeks to care for others. I thought I needed to please others and to give up my rights. While both Christian men and women are told that selflessness is a virtue, women are taught this to a higher degree and in a different, more painful way. We should always be the ones who load and unload the dishwasher in the office kitchen. We should be a listening ear for anyone and everyone and give them motherly love. We should sacrifice our thoughts and desires for those of the men around us (whether they realize it or not). I accepted early on that my job was be quiet and to serve. I know I am not the only one.

And so, when Lent came around one of the years I was in college and people were giving things up, I wondered what might be helpful for my relationship with my Creator…should I give up eating sugar? Or television? Or cafeteria pizza? Or…?

And what I settled on seems a little ridiculous. While out at a restaurant with some friends, I settled on ordering myself a crème brûlée for Lent.

And that isn’t all. I settled on giving up pleasing others for Lent. I decided to give up saying “yes” to things and instead take some time to recharge. I chose to do things I loved doing. I chose to take time for self care. I chose to thrive, to value myself and enjoy things I loved…things like crème brûlée. I wasn’t lavishing myself with expensive things (like crème brûlée sometimes is!) for 40 days…I was simply choosing to treat myself with kindness, allow myself to rest and be me. I chose, most truthfully, to create in my rhythm a healthier balance where I followed our savior who both gave up of himself out of love for us and who ALSO took time to go off to a quiet place and recharge with his friends. This may not be everyone’s needed Lenten discipline for further discipleship, but it was mine.

And you know what? Against all odds, it was hard to practice!

You see, my mind told me what I needed to do to be a more balanced human, but years of practice and bad theology got in the way. I had grown up believing that selflessness meant letting myself be walked over. I grew up thinking God wanted me to be miserable. It was hard to not feel guilty as I did things I wanted to do for a change and made my own desires known. I felt that, perhaps, God was disappointed in me…that maybe I wasn’t doing enough for the Kingdom.

But as time went on, I began to see that God’s Spirit in me valued me more than I did. My desires were not antithetical to God’s. As I have continued this Lenten tradition from year to year, I have noticed that it allows me to simply be more human. I am not God. I also cannot care for others if I do not care for myself. I can’t give out of cupboards that have nothing in them.

It all seems pretty common sense, but women struggle with this most I think. This Lenten discipline is about 9 years old in my life now, and I still don’t have it down. Self care takes constant work (and it is not only a Lenten discipline!). It will take a long time for the pendulum to swing to a balance where I live into the calling of being BOTH servant and child of the God. But I am learning that I am not here to be used for other’s purposes…even if they are good. I am here because of and for a God who took time to rest. And I am loved by that God! That God has my best in mind! That God is kind to me…can I be kind to myself?

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