I see faces when I read these words. Faces of people of the Levant whose words the Gospel writer captured. Faces of the people who filled our news every night throughout August.
August, a month when the winds and waters drenched coastlines and flooded urban and rural communities … fires devastated lush forests and inhabited lands here and in Europe ... the foundation of life and certainty were literally shaken in Haiti … COVID began claiming even more victims than a year ago… and Afghan people fled for their lives and futures.
The Gospel reference is not only an expression of gratitude but also a reminder of how we as people of compassion, empathy, generosity and grace respond to the myriad needs of our siblings at any given time.
And that time is now as September begins.
The response, the restoration, the repair has been prompted by such urgency and immediacy. If not for our deep relationships and partnerships with communities of faith and so many people from throughout the state of Oregon, we could not do so in such a timely fashion.
I’ve spoken with the bishops and executives of our member denominations how best to coordinate efforts of support for all that we really must do. For example, we are all closely monitoring and responding to the Afghan refugee situation. We are grateful that Lutheran Community Services NW, Catholic Charities and EMO’s Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR) are deeply involved in the official resettlement process, and that an expansive network of partnerships with IRCO, legal and social service agencies, and, most importantly, representatives of the Afghan community in the Portland metro area are part of those efforts.
While housing, clothing, food, medical care, employment and school enrollment for children are most urgent needs to fulfill, we hope that the next tier of support will continue to be informed by the refugees themselves. We will learn more about ethnic and cultural distinctions, spiritual practices, dietary considerations, family systems and parenting, social courtesies, culturally adaptive therapies for trauma and healing, and ways they wish to be received in our communities and in our homes.
Through hearing and understanding these aspirations, can we give authentic witness to caring and giving as unconditionally as those who did two millennia ago.