God is Love
By Rev. Ricardo Riqueza
Greetings in Christ,
For those who do not know me, my name is Ricardo Riqueza. I am the pastor at St. John's in Marquette and Trinity in Polk. I am also not a native Nebraskan. I have done ministry in many places and have seen much of the United States. I did ministry in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and now I am here in rural Nebraska. In each place I saw God in different ways.
I have been very blessed to experience all those states, where I was able to learn and grow. In California, I did my teaching parish in Berkeley and the church was very passionate about social justice. I saw God in Berkeley in people’s passion to care for all God’s creation regardless of gender, national origin, and sexual orientation. People in Berkeley were living God’s commandments in their daily lives.
In Arizona, I did my internship in Phoenix in a congregation consisting of people from Mexico. The people at the congregation were Spanish speakers and most were struggling to survive and worked in very labor intensive jobs. I saw God in people’s kindness and their big hearts. They had so many reasons to be angry and bitter, but instead they were full of joy and love.
Every place that I have lived and done ministry, I was blessed with loving communities. But there is something different about rural Nebraska, something I have never experienced before coming here- the overwhelming number of people helping the church. I see God in rural Nebraska in people’s love for the church community and that is not limited to the buildings. It is in the love and care that members have for each other.
When people get sick, members are quick to bring supper, make phone calls, and do anything to help and bring comfort to those sick members. People care for each other and the less fortunate. Members are very passionate about supporting the food pantry with donations and volunteering their time. I cannot think of a single member from either church that does not help the church in a variety of ways.
Please do not get me wrong, all the places that I have lived there were volunteers, but they were very small groups, and the pastors that I worked with had to continuously ask people for help. As the pastor at St. John’s in Marquette and Trinity in Polk, I am impressed by how members of both churches are so dedicated to their congregations. I have more volunteers than work, people just get things done. I do not have even to ask, things just get done.
In both communities, the church is part of people’s lives, people do not think twice before caring for anything that the churches need. I am very thankful to God for both communities and the love that they have for the church and the love that they have for each other. I am also very blessed with the love that they have for me.
God is Love.