June 25, 2019
Dear friends in Christ,
Jesus, in the great judgement parable in Matthew, says:
"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, 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... just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me."
I have read and listened with dismay to the reports about the conditions in which children have been kept at our border. I hope that I can say with complete confidence that followers of Jesus can be both Republican and Democrat, and all believe that the way we treat children is moral issue. The treatment of children at our borders is not about political party, it is about our ethics, our faith, and our soul.
My Uncle Russell, of blessed memory, was in the army at the end of World War II and served at the Nuremburg trials. He didn't say much about his time in service, but I remember him saying clearly that one of the biggest developments from those trials was that the defense that "I was following orders" was no longer an acceptable in justifying actions. He told us that as adults we would be responsible to hold true to our faith and our values even if that meant that we would have to stand up to those in authority. One of my greatest concerns from the report about how children are being mistreated at the border is about how those who are responsible for the children are being put under moral stress in their own life. I cannot believe that anyone would believe that it is acceptable to treat children like this. Again, this is not about a political position, members of congress on both sides of the aisle have risen to protest this treatment.
So what do we do here? How can followers of Jesus living in the Diocese of Spokane act when we hear news that is so disturbing? I have to tell myself that I can't just stop listening, which often is my desire. It is important to stay informed, to know what is happening. I believe this as both a citizen and a Christian. I fully believe as a citizen that government is answerable to the people and I have a voice that matters. I believe as a Christian that my responsibility goes beyond borders, the church after all is the Body of Christ, made up of family from all nations and reminding all nations that we are all one in Christ. Followers of Jesus are called into action that is consistent with our faith, called to speak up for those whose voices are not heard, called to work for those who have no power.
It is too easy to become angry, it is too easy to become cynical. As followers of Jesus we are called to the harder way, the way of love and mercy, and compassion, the way of the Cross, the way of resurrection. We are called to "walk in love" instead of anger, we are called to listen instead of yell, we are called "to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
In our diocese the immigration debate is not as heated since our border is with Canada, and yet we still have differences of opinions about immigration. While we can and should have respectful debate on our countries immigration laws, the treatment of children and refugees is an action that demonstrates how we will live into the way of love. In this diocese we work with World Relief to assist in refugee resettlement. Along the Mexican border our sister dioceses have active work for immigrants and refugees.
If you want to learn more, if you want to get involved, I commend to you the following resources for doing so:
I invite all of us to consider what God is asking of us in this time. How will those of us who follow Jesus, those of us who call ourselves Christian, act in ways that bring love and hope instead of hatred and fear? May the way we live in our daily life, our public life, show the world what is means to live the way of Love.