By Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
One of the blessings we now have as grandparents is in rediscovering the joy and wonder of children. Watching our three young grandsons has been both challenging and absolutely wonderful!
As parents I think it is easy to miss all the wonder and sacredness of their innocence because you are still learning what it means to be a parent. After all of the excitement and energy around actually becoming a parent starts to fade, the reality that you are totally responsible for this new life 24/7/365 starts to sink in!
In all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) there is a wonderful story told of Jesus blessing children. Also, earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls a little child to stand before the disciples who were arguing who is the greatest in God’s Kingdom, and says, “…unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18.3)
As a parent and now grandparent you can’t help but have hopes and dreams for your children or grandchildren. Yet even more basic you want them to be healthy, safe, happy and able to live full meaningful lives. You want them to have a strong sense of themselves, to be confident, to know they are loved and valued and important.
So it is no wonder that the parents of those children would wish for Jesus to lay his hands on them. Perhaps they had heard stories of how Jesus had healed others or just wished for a blessing from kind Rabbi with the hopes that this would somehow protect and ensure that their children would grow well.
I have always enjoyed baby dedications where we lift the child before the congregation and invite everyone to join the parents in raising up the child in the ways of Jesus. We lay hands on them and bless and pray for them. We want both the parents and the congregation to know that all children are valued and that we all have a responsibility in their upbringing.
Though these stories in Gospels tell of the disciples scolding the parents for attempting to bring the children to Jesus, I have to believe that the disciples were trying not to interrupt or disturb Jesus, or perhaps just showing off their sense of importance. Either way, Jesus graciously says, “Let the children come to me…”
Perhaps Jesus understood the desires of those parents for a blessing. Perhaps he knew how most parents worry about their children and will do almost anything to assure themselves that their children will be safe, healthy and whole. He also seems to affirm their innocence, their wonder, their curiosity, and their vulnerability as keys to entering God’s realm.
So, like many of us these days, my heart breaks at the treatment of immigrant children by our current administration. Separating children from their parents/families is cruel and incredibly damaging to those innocent children. Punishing children while some accuse the parents of breaking the law can never be acceptable.
Placing children in cells and cages where they are subject to all sorts of abuse and mistreatment, not to mention suffering from being torn away from the safety of the parents goes against everything we as human beings and Christians hold as sacred and important for children to develop in healthy ways.
I cannot even begin to imagine the damage that has been done to the hearts and minds of these children that have been systematically removed from the love, safety and care of their parents and families.
Today, most Americans would view the interment camps of our Japanese sisters and brothers as a dark and terrible time in our history. I believe this time will be seen the same way by future generations. This travesty must change and these innocents need our voices to say enough is enough!
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my friends, you have done it unto me.”
May we heed the message of Jesus, to bless, love and care for all children for such is the Kingdom of heaven.
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
Here’s some orgs that are doing great work supporting asylum seekers through advocacy, education and/or donations.
- freedomforimmigrants.org (fights to end immigration detention - National Bond Fund helps asylum seekers pay bond fees)
- familiesbelongtogether.org (group of orgs fighting to end family separation at the border)
- sojo.net (Social Justice magazine)
- alotrolado.org (legal services for asylum seekers)
- nomoredeaths.org/en (Arizona org that leaves supplies in the desert)