As I wake this morning and look forward to celebrating Father’s Day, a day often marked by gifts like breakfast in bed, power tools, handmade cards from little hands, golf outings and phone calls home, it’s difficult not to be reminded of the growing humanitarian crisis happening at our border.
As a father we want what is best for our children. From working hard to making sure our kids have enough to eat to ensuring they have a roof over their head, caring for our children, in ways great and small, is what we’re called to do. My family recently moved from Florida to Iowa, and I’m reminded of the many criteria my wife and I used to make that decision. Will our kids get a quality education? What is the crime rate in the area? Will they have access to caring community through societal staples like church, summer camps and Girl Scouts?
And yet these are luxuries compared to the horrors many families now face when they choose to head north seeking asylum in our land.
As a pastor I find our government’s recent use of sacred Christian scripture to justify human rights abuses appalling. As a people of faith we are called to welcome the stranger. And called to love our neighbor as ourselves. And whatever you do to the least of these? You know, like separating kids from loving parents? You have done to me, Christ says.
As a citizen I find this deepening crisis deeply disturbing. At one point in our nation’s history we celebrated an ideal that invited the tired, the poor, the huddled masses to our land. That ideal is now gone, replaced with policies that not only deny those same people but then separates them, tearing father and mother from son and daughter.
Our nation likes to lift up a shared love of God and country. As a Christian clergy let me implore you to prioritize the former. Our faith tradition is steeped in examples of people that found themselves on the other side of the law of their land for just cause.
Jesus spoke out against societal and religious injustice all the way to the cross. The apostle Paul, author of much of the New Testament, wrote many of those texts from behind bars for living out his call. Many German pastors were vocal about the atrocities of World War II; some were imprisoned, others killed. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, who challenged our notion of the American dream with his own, often found himself behind bars for speaking truth to power, and ultimately paid a far greater price.
Perhaps the time has come again to do similar.
As you enjoy Father’s Day 2018, with all the privileges, freedoms and joy it contains, I ask you consider the fathers, and mothers that have none of that and desire more for their family. And then find themselves separated from the people they love the most, their children, separated by the government you and I claim as our own.
As a parent, and a person of faith, I ask you to act on behalf of these families, made in the image of God, and called good by design, just as much as you and I.
Speak out to the leaders of our land. Let them know this is not ok.
Write to your elected officials. Tell of the pain this causes to you and so many.
Organize, walk, and march. Make sure your voice echoes what good, Christian family values really look like.
While I pray your actions aren’t met with violence or incarceration know your voice won’t be welcomed by all. And that’s ok. But creating light from darkness, hope from despair and bringing life out of places of death is what we Christians do.
May the Holy Spirit nudge you to now go out, and do the same.