by Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings
I have been trying to work on a litany for immigration and children for this site, but I am struggling with the words. I am struggling with being poetic. Because I am outraged. The things that have happened this week are overwhelming, from President Trump praising a dictator with a litany of human rights abuses to his name to Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders using scripture to defend the practice of ripping children from their parents.
A breast feeding baby was ripped from its mother and taken into custody.
Parents are being told their children are going to take a shower and they children are never returned.
Children are sleeping on mats, with blankets of tin foil, in an abandoned warehouse, crying for their parents.
We, church, cannot be silent.
Preachers, if you haven't pushed your congregation on immigration, now is the time. They are building a tent city in an area with summer highs of over 120 and winter lows of below freezing to hold CHILDREN. If we remain silent now, we are guilty of worrying about our careers more than our promise to work for Christ in this world. If we remain silent now, we have abdicated moral authority and are declaring ourselves embracers of cheap grace.
I tried, but I couldn't find any good way to make this weeks lessons speak to what is happening now.
However, we have a whole book filled with scriptures that do.
And how much might it disrupt worship, how much might it shake up your people if you get up in the pulpit, bulleting already printed with another scripture for the day, and you read something different? What might it say to people if you seem it necessary right here and now to break pattern and tradition and read the multitude of scripture that applies to what is happening in our country today.
To preach the real meaning of Romans 13 and how it was used to defend slavery and to suppress the American Revolution?
To string together all of the scripture regarding welcoming the immigrant (and the Hebrew we translate as stranger/alien/sojourner can also be translated as immigrant)?
To preach on Matthew 25 and our requirement to see Jesus in the face of the hungry, the homeless, the IMMIGRANT?
To read about Shiphrah and Puah and how they disobeyed the Pharoh's orders, saved many babies, and God was pleased?
To speak of the things that God hates from Proverbs 6:16?
Read the story Refuge for the children's sermon?
We must speak out, siblings. We must preach to our people and tell them that God calls us to welcome the immigrant, to care for children, to disobey unjust laws in the name of love. Even if they get mad at us. Even if we have to deal with crap afterwards. Even if it makes us unsafe. Because that is what the call to the cross is. To be so passionate about love and loving in the way of Christ that we are willing to deny ourselves, our needs, and even our lives in its name.
Here is a short list of scriptures you could use:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
You shall not oppress an immigrant. You know the heart of an immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong an immigrant or oppress him, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.
Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
46 An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, 48 and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
See that you do not deem unworthy one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[g] you did it to me.’
Matthew 2: an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
The blog space is where we'll cover things: why we're using a specific focus during a season, to discuss liturgy, and random things that don't quite fit elsewhere.