(adapted from a reflection by Rev Steven Koski, posted 14th December 2018)
“For unto us a child is born.” The Divine entered our story in a helpless, vulnerable child to remind us to look for the divinity in every child. The child who grew to be a man would say, “Let the children come to me, and do not let anything stand in the way of children knowing their belovedness, and knowing the Love from which they can never be separated.”
In the last few days, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, was taken into Border Patrol custody and died of dehydration and exhaustion. She had travelled with her father from a rural indigenous community in Guatemala’s impoverished Alta Verapaz region. US Rep. Joaquin Castro said, “This is a humanitarian crisis and we have a moral obligation to ensure these vulnerable families can safely seek asylum, which is legal under immigration and international law at our borders.” She came as a stranger, but she did not find welcome; she was hungry but she did not find food; thirsty and was given no drink. She came as Jesus, Jesus came as her, but we did not recognize her. She was someone else’s child.
A photojournalist covering the war in Sarajevo was taking pictures when he heard a sniper’s rifle. He turned to see a child fall to the ground. A man holding the child yelled, “My child’s been shot. Please help.” The photographer helped the man and child into his car and raced to the hospital. The man screamed, “My child’s bleeding so badly. Hurry!” They arrived and the child was taken into emergency surgery. Hours later the doctor opened the door with a look on his face that said, “We did everything we could but it was too late.”
The man turned to the photographer and said, “Can you help me find this child’s father so that we can tell him?”
The photographer said, “Father? I thought you were her father. You said ‘my child.’”
The man responded with the words that can heal the world, “They are all our children.”
Imagine seeing the child in the manger in every child you see and meet today, and images on the TV and internet. Simply observe your own feelings and responses. Contemplate what might change if we understand there is no such thing as other people’s children. They are all our children.
We pray for each one of these children, whom God knows by name and whom God loves with depths greater than we can possibly imagine. In the midst of the despair that surrounds them, they may nonetheless find glimpses of comfort, hope, and joy sufficient to nurture their wounded hearts. We pray for their parents, themselves seeking to cope with the traumas associated with war and conflict, famine, persecution, flight, and detention. They are anxious for the welfare and future of their children, rendered helpless by the situation in which they find themselves. Grant them courage to face the day, and the ability to draw deeply of the reservoirs of resilience they need to keep on being good parents. We pray for our leaders. We recognise the grave responsibilities of power, and ask for wisdom that they might use power well, the resolve to form policy and make decisions that are just, compassionate and generous, and the humility to be repentant where errors have been made. Amen. (Prayer adapted from A Just Cause)
Hymn: A Girl Died at the Border
ST. CHRISTOPHER 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 (“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”)
A girl died at the border; O God, how can this be?
She came here with her father and was put in custody—
Then fever, shock and dehydration took her life away—
Or did she die from something else— from stumbling blocks we made?
Lord, she was only seven! What things should she have known?
The sounds of playing, and the joys of freedom, justice, home…
and food to spare, a place to rest, cool water close at hand…
and feeling welcomed, treasured, blessed… and folks who understand.
Lord Jesus, we remember your words that bring us pause:
There will be times of stumbling here, but woe if we’re the cause.
And woe when children, fleeing danger, stumble, thirst and die.
And woe to us, a nation, if we are the reason why.
O God of great compassion, you love each little one;
So shake us loose from our believing nothing can be done.
When any child is suffering, Lord, we pray that love will win;
God, may we now obey your word and welcome children in.
Biblical References: Matthew 17:1-2; 19:13-14
Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Copyright © 201 8 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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