I think of a boy, the boy named Alan. I think of his family and the great loss that was his life. The desire for freedom, for a chance at life. The desperation they felt and the great risk they felt they had to take. My heart hangs heavy. So many things pass through my mind as I live through this day. I think of this boy as I chop food for dinner, as I play on the floor with my boys, as I move and live and breathe in my taken for granted freedom. I think of the things that need to happen, that must change. I sit down. I write. I write letters to our candidates as they campaign for a seat. Will they do something, anything to help these people? It’s not enough. It’s not enough to write. We as a people of freedom must do something, anything to help in some way.
We must do something, we must remember those who are suffering. In this world we are hit with image after image in a stream of constant updates and entertainments. We must not allow Alan to become yesterday’s news, a faded memory in a stream of consciousness. We must not allow those who suffer to be overlooked and ignored. We must see the world around us. We must see the pain, the despair, the longing for a life that we take for granted.
Seeing is hard. Seeing feels at times so painful that we long to shut our eyes, we wish we could turn away. We must not do this, cannot do this if we are to be people of the light. We must move into the world in action. We must find ways to be a people who act. We are called to be a people who act by one who was himself forced to flee an oppressive regime. We are a people who from the beginning were encouraged to protect the stranger and accept those from far away.
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:34 NIV
How do we do this? How do we love the strangers who are so far away? How do we help them, protect them, guard them?
I do not know the answers to these questions but I suspect we must begin by raising our voice. By opening our hearts, churches and homes in hospitality and saying the suffering people that they are welcome here, they will find a home among us. We are called to do this. We are called to “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need…” (Romans 12:13 NIV), practicing hospitality. We must raise our voices and encourage our leaders to offer assistance, provide sanctuary and support to people who are suffering.
As we fight it is important to remember we do not do fight this alone. At times it may feel lonely and overwhelming but there are others who cry out alongside us and fight for justice in a world which at times may seem dark. We also have God who sends us his peace, his strength and his grace. This grace, this gift of relentless love is one we must cling to. God is relentless in his desire to reach his people and he will go with us. As Frederick Buechner says “The grace of God means something like:”…Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.” God is indeed with us and as we go forth, he goes with us. Let us take God into this world where beautiful and terrible things happen and work to create more beautiful things. Let us work together relentlessly fighting for others as God fights for us.