Some weeks, tuning in to the news is particularly difficult. Such has been the case for me the past few weeks. As you are no doubt aware, media and social media have been saturated with news of the thousands of children who have been separated from their families over the course of a few months due to a policy shift in the enforcement of U.S. immigration law. I don’t need to take time here to run through all the ins and outs of this policy; many other religious leaders from across the political and theological spectrum have done so better than I could. You can read more about the facts, including discussion of Romans 13, infamously invoked by political leadership, from this conservative Christian site. You can read statements condemning the policy of family separation from a group of organizations including the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief and World Vision. Christian leaders have been vocal and nearly unanimous in speaking out against this policy.
With excellent resources such as these, why say more at all? Because I, perhaps like you, have clutched my child a little closer this week. Because I, perhaps like you, have cried thinking of the children her age and younger who are distraught, confused, and comfortless this week, and the parents whose arms are empty and who live in fear of never seeing those children. And because I am utterly convinced that God see and cares about what has happened. At times like this, I believe our tears, prayers, and Spirit-directed action are very much aligned with the fierce heart of God. For our God is a God of justice — which means he is a God who does what is right and who works patiently, tirelessly, and ceaselessly to bring things back to a state of “rightness” — a state of shalom.Our Lord Jesus Christ went to Egypt as a refugee child fleeing certain death in the arms of his parents. In these weeks filled with emotionally charged news of immigrants and refugees, and in this week in which Wednesday marked World Refugee Day, let us be fervent in prayer and take action as the Spirit directs. Whatever your convictions on immigration policy in general, pray for these children and their parents. Pray that God’s justice be done, and that God’s Spirit will direct human leaders to shape our laws according to His justice and not human ideas of justice. Pray for our president and for those in a position to influence him. Pray for families and children to be reunited and safe together again, and consider taking concrete action toward that end through an organization such as Kids in Need of Defense.
Thanks be to God that the family separation policy was reversed through executive order yesterday — and yet the damage is done. These young and vulnerable children will be living with the trauma of this experience for years to come, so pray for Jesus’ healing presence in their hearts and minds, and for Jesus to be present in the hands and arms of those caring for them in the meantime.
In closing, a prayer from the book of Common Worship:
Almighty and merciful God,
whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own;
look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger,
homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.