Prayer for Peace for September 12 by Glenn
Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. – Proverbs 1:20
In 2018, President Veazey and the USA Team of Apostles issued statements regarding the then current US policies of separating child refugees from their parents at the border. At the time they stated that: “The USA Apostles of Community of Christ join President Stephen Veazey (announcement below) in contacting United States government officials to end the current policy of separating children from their refugee immigrant parents. One of our Enduring Principles, Worth of All Persons, calls us to “challenge unjust systems that diminish human worth.” We also urge members and friends of the church who share this concern to communicate their views to government officials and legislators.”
The treatment of refugees at the US southern border and in particular policies that result in family separation and the detention of children remain a concern worthy of our prayerful attention and response. In my role as Mission Center President for the 19 congregations of Community of Christ in the Central and South Central Iowa area, I am called to raise up this issue and beg for you to lend your support to measures designed to protect the most vulnerable among us. Family separation, detention of children, and the general inaccessibility of refugee processing is harmful to individuals, the nation and goes against religious and moral teachings. Creating conditions of peace and well-being in the areas that are sources of refugees is also key.
We are just beginning to understand the harmful psychological effects of family separation policies, but it does not require a formal study to understand that detaining innocent children and keeping them separated from family and loved ones is unacceptably harmful.
Our nation can benefit from the labor, generosity and strength of character that immigrant refugees can bring to this country. In a time when labor shortages fuel inflationary pressures, admission of refugees can also have a beneficial impact on the overall economy and general welfare.
In this Peace Moment, I want you to know that I see this issue as deeply rooted in Christian principles and traditions. When I lived in New York, I made my own sign saying “Keep Families Together” and then surrounded it with hashtags like #WorthOfAllPersons and #UityInDiversity.
The Community of Christ Immigration Statement teaches that: “Love the stranger” is an often-repeated commandment in the Hebrew Scriptures. “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19 NRSV). The people of Israel were to be sensitive to the alien or stranger because the Egyptians oppressed, feared, and exploited them when they were immigrants in Egypt: “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9 NRSV). Most humans in their family story have been “strangers” or “aliens” at some point. The church’s history includes many stories of early members being persecuted as “strangers and foreigners.” We must not forget that our ancestors in faith not only experienced deportation, exile, and extermination, but received sanctuary from people outside of our faith community. Today we must love those who are “strangers and foreigners” among us.
“Welcome the stranger” is a commandment in the New Testament. Paul wrote to the church in Rome saying, “Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13). The writer of Hebrews speaks for the stranger in this way: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews: 13:2). Jesus himself, in a parable on the final judgment, identified with the vulnerable including the alien: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35). New Testament scripture tells us to treat the stranger like a fellow Christian, perhaps an angel in disguise, or even Jesus himself.
In this Peace Moment, let us resolve to remember that this crisis at the Southern border continues and that we have been asked to contact our elected representatives for “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.”
Prayer for Peace
So many people throughout the world have been forced from their homes by faminie, violence and war. Many are refugees seeking safety in other countries. We who have not suffered in this way are called and encouraged to welcome the stranger – refugee families and children who must travel alone. Theirs is a particular form of suffering. Years of physical and mental development may be lost. Their view of the world may mold their future actions. It is up to us to mitigate these losses with welcome. When this is difficult, challenge us by your Spirit to try harder. Strengthen our resolve to follow the example of Jesus. We pray in his name. Amen You ask us, “Who do you say I am?” You promise peace if we recognize Jesus as the Christ. But many through the centuries have faced persecution for that very thing. And we struggle to find peace in ourselves, our communities and the world. We feel inadequate or wrongly directed. Help our unbelief. Provide us, we pray, the assurance of your love. Help us work for peace where our effort is needed. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.