Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.
I wonder how many of you ever thought deeply about the story of Moses' birth. In order to keep him from being killed by Pharaoh, she put him in a basket and sent him floating down the river. Did you ever wonder, "What kind of mother would do that?"
I've been reflecting on that question often these last several days here in Guatemala where I am representing the ELCA as part of a Human Rights Observation Mission. These observers from several countries and various social service organization have listened to migration stories from the mothers of children who have decided to cross the border from Guatemala into Mexico destined for what they hope will be a better life in the United States.
Many of the youth never make it. They are detained at the Mexican border and sent back, but not before they are imprisoned, abused, or worse. In some cases, they disappear, never to be heard from again. Those who are deported and sent back often suffer from depression. They feel like failures. Their families have spent a small fortune to pay a smuggler, who takes the money and, in many cases, abandons the youngster long before reaching their intended goal. So they feel that they've let their families down.
You may ask, "Why leave home in the first place?"
The stories of violence, poverty and desperation that we've heard are heart-wrenching. What mother would not want to take extreme measure to save her child from a pointless future? It's easy to second-guess or criticize. Yet I can almost guarantee that the conditions described to us would force you to do the same. I refer once again to the opening of the Exodus story and invite you to reflect on that more thoroughly.
We arrived the day after the Presidential election and of course, the first question out of the box we were asked was, "What is the church's reaction to the results and how will this affect our immigration strategy?" It's been difficult to offer an informed opinion since we are not in the U.S. to hear anyone else's.
But here's what I can offer. God's command is to love our neighbor. That was a given long before the first President was ever elected. Following that mandate we will continue to work to advocate for and protect the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable in our society - unaccompanied minors included. I would also ask that you read last week's musings because the message there is still applicable.
And this coming Sunday, the liturgical year ends with the celebration of Christ the King. The Gospel reading from Luke describes the scene at the cross in which Jesus promises paradise to one of the two thieves who hung there with him. Jesus made clear that the kingdom of God is most concerned with the forgotten, the rejected, the excluded, the lost, the last, the least, the downtrodden.
The kingdom of God is where God's desires, God's dreams for this creation, God's will and God's intentions rule. So all of us are being invited to become a part of that kingdom - a kingdom of hope, and peace, and love; despite whatever circumstances surround us.