Sermons

Summary: Family separation is an anathema to what Jesus taught

Who Will Speak for Them?

Mark 4:35-41

Today’s Gospel reading is a story of Jesus calming the winds and waves also appears in Matthew and Luke in some form as well, and was surely meant to show the ways in which Jesus’ disciples were brought to faith in Him early in His ministry. Control of nature is a characteristic attributed to the Divine; so here, as Jesus calms the storm that arose when He and his disciples were crossing the sea, this ragged group of young men, who had left everything to follow the revolutionary teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, were strengthened in their faith and belief---so much so that in a few years they could face mockery and suffering to spread His message across their known world. Few of us who call ourselves His disciples today are called upon to endure the struggles and suffering of those early disciples….being a Christian in this strong Christian nation is easy…or is it?

Let me share with you some other quotes that I also find meaningful:

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” -- Thomas Jefferson

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” --Edmund Burke

“The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” -- Plato

I have been accused of being too political. My friends, let me remind you that the Gospel is about social justice, and social justice is political, not partisan, but absolutely political. And as a Vocational Deacon in the Episcopal Church, it is my duty and ministry to preach and act for social justice. I will make no excuses for my calling – to speak truth to power.

As we near the 234th celebration of the founding of our nation, we find ourselves in such a needless and cruel national crisis that I am compelled to speak about it in relation to our promise and mission as followers of Jesus. As national figures use our Bible to justify heartless treatment of innocent and desperate people, I believe we cannot—we must not let our Savior die again because of our silence. As we use the cross as an adornment, a decoration, can we forget that it is a symbol of agonizing death and injustice dealt to the Son of God by people mindlessly following laws of a government and church devoid of justice and compassion. Can we rejoice in our buildings and organizations and committees and gloss over the fact that this good Son of Man came to teach us a revolutionary ideal of brotherly love, and to challenge us to work daily for His beautiful vision of His Heavenly Kingdom on earth - a world in which all are brothers and sisters who treat one another with the love, respect, and compassion that we yearn for ourselves? Can we seize that cross of suffering and realize that human beings today are suffering and dying on our southern border---looking to us for help and safety, and it is our job---and our privilege to care for “the least of these”?

The least of these are the men, women and children who have risked their lives to come to the United States without documentation. In a similar fashion as the disciples, their people are terrified, leaving their own country because of gangs, drug wars, rape and murder. The disciples may have been terrified on the water, but the desert that these people have crossed to get here is more cruel than a storm could ever be. It’s for their faith in Jesus – and us – that led them to make the dangerous trek to the safety of the United States to seek a better life, a safe future.

But they haven’t found safety when they get here – they found cruelty and separation and unspeakable horrors. Children are dragged from their mother’s arms, potentially never to see their family again. They are warehoused in buildings hot and sterile, sleeping on a mattress on the floor with a survival aluminum blanket for cover. They are assigned a number, and herded into rooms delineated by chain link fence. The children are separated by sex, and we have seen only a few pictures of any girls in the detention centers. Toddlers are place in a separate area, where, unlike most toddlers, they sit motionless, crying and asking for their mother or father. Infants under a year old are separated into ‘tender age’ centers, away from their mothers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the care of these children. In the time of their greatest need of human contact and comfort, no worker is allowed to touch or comfort these children.

The current administration is detaining these children as pawns to get what they want. These innocent and scared children are being used as a ‘tough deterrent’ to discourage others from entering the United States, asking for asylum or illegally when they have no other choice. Under any other circumstance, detention would be equal to kidnapping and the border officials would be subject to prison – kidnapping is a federal offense. Even though the policy of family separation appears to be discontinued through an executive order, over 2400 children are now orphans. There appear to be no plans for the rejoining of families – some of the parents may have already been deported, and their children housed in 17 states, including Texas, Washington, California, Oklahoma, New York, Arkansas, or Connecticut. These families will never be whole again.

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