Posted on Jul 03, 2019 by Emily Nelson Dixon
Matthew 25:35-40 Common English Bible (CEB)
“I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ "
We are using this scripture to start off our senior high mission trip in a couple of weeks. It’s a great one to study when you are going to serve a community. The idea of helping others, really means you’re helping God — whoa! Incredible! What a profound and wonderful responsibility!
But as I have been studying it lately, my attention has been drawn to what’s happening at the southern border of this land of the free, home of the brave. When the news died down about kids-in-cages a couple of months ago, I made the silly assumption that the problem had been fixed. So with the recent reports from the border, my heart is heavy. But not just that — while my soul aches, she’s also very angry. I am angry that we are treating people this way in 2019. I am angry that I have been clueless to the torture of other human beings in my country. I am angry that I feel helpless and useless to help these people. I recently saw this meme: “If you wonder what you have done during slavery, the holocaust, or the civil rights movement — you’re doing it right now.” WHAT? I am not doing anything but posting snarky memes, sending occasional messages to my local leaders, and writing ranty blog posts! I should be doing something helpful, right?? That feels so paralyzing! I think that’s why it’s easier to ignore, in an effort to protect ourselves, because what can we really do, right?
While it’s not feasible for me to take a trip to the border with my posters and makers, there are things I can do right here:
First, I can continue to educate myself on what’s really going on — what these policies are that are allowing these heinous acts to occur.
I can stop turning away when I see awful pictures that make me cry and hurt my heart, because it’s real and it’s happening right now. Turning away only helps it continue.
I can educate myself and vote in EVERY election possible.
I can support politicians who support safe and fair treatment of all people.
I can talk about it every chance I get and be THAT person at the party who should know better than to talk politics in mixed company.
I can educate myself about ICE and the rights of others so I can support people in my area who might be targeted.
I can take an honest look at how I am culpable and how my privilege continues to hurt others.
I can stop ignoring what’s really happening in an effort to help myself feel better.
As we set off fireworks and eat BBQ, I will not forget about what’s happening in our country.
A Franciscan Blessing is a benediction in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi who famously gave up his inheritance to serve the poor. I found this example of a Franciscan blessing from the twentieth century, and thought it was a wonderful blessing for anyone struggling as I have been with what to do in our current times:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
Emily Nelson Dixon
Director of Teen Ministries and Outreach