"You're supposed to be a loving God. You're supposed to love us. And what have you done to us? Why did you do this to us?"
As a parent and a grandfather, I get what this mother was crying out to God when separated from her daughter in the midst of the Katrina Hurricane. You know those moments when your child or grandchild is there one minute in the crowded retail store, and in the next minute you can't find them. Those are agonizing moments.
The words from above are from an article by Allen G. Breed entitled "Katrina survivors face tragedy, triumph," in the Asbury Park Press, September 1, 2005. In the article, Breed describes how an 83 year old mother, Camille Fletcher, and two of her children survived the raging storm. But one daughter, Glendalyn, had disappeared and had not made contact with the family. "My precious daughter," Fletcher sobbed. "I prayed to God to keep us safe in his loving care."
Then, looking into an incongruously blue sky, she whimpered: "You're supposed to be a loving God. You're supposed to love us. And what have you done to us? Why did you do this to us?" ...
Camille had been moved to the convention center with thousands of other New Orleans residents when she saw her daughter, Glendalyn, approaching her and shouting, "Mamma?"
"Oh my God, oh my God," the old woman screamed, kissing Glendalyn's hand and pressing it against her forehead. "My daughter's alive!"
The 59-year-old Glendalyn Fletcher told her family a harrowing story of how she had floated through a wall at her house a mile away from her mother's and swum, stripped naked by the raging torrent, to a neighbor's house and cowered in an attic; how someone had picked them up Tuesday and left them stranded on a water-locked section of I-10.
Camille Fletcher, after seeing her daughter and hearing her heartbreaking story, said, "God is good."
I wonder how many mothers, fathers, and kids are crying out those words to God as they have been separated from one another at our southern border,"You're supposed to be a loving God. You're supposed to love us. And what have you done to us? Why did you do this to us?" And as the biblical arguments for this type of treatment to any of God's creation whom God called "good," is an affront to all those who call themselves Christian, it is an affront to those who may not claim a religious heritage but morals they do not accept as American.
Back in the day, we called the throwing out of biblical texts to "win" at a Bible Trivia game we called "Biblical Sword-fighting." The throwing out of biblical texts to justify this injustice is not a game to see who wins and who loses. Whether a parent is 83 or 38, or a child is 59 or 9, what we are witnessing in this nation and its leadership (or lack thereof) is only creating losers. No one wins when they ignore Jesus' words, "Whatever you did not do to the least of these, you did not do to me."
If we, as Christians, stand against the separation of children and parents in this manner, then we cannot remain "on the sidelines." No matter where one stands on the issue of immigration, are we not called to a higher standard in loving our neighbor? It is part of our 2018 initiative in partnership with the United Church of Christ. Part of loving our neighbor is to stand against injustices we are witnessing now, and it is in standing with the most vulnerable in their time of need. As Jesus and his family were refugees because of political policies, today many children are refugees due to political action or inaction – in their country and in ours.
I encourage you to keep vigilant for how you can respond to this humanity crisis. Keep attuned to ways people are responding locally or through our denomination. Go to the UCC website,www.ucc.org and look for news and events to express ways to live out your faith.
For me, God has created each of us as Holy Containers, whether we reside in the U.S. or have come as a refugee or immigrant. So, I cry to our government leaders "What have you done, and why have you done it to the least of these?" I cry out like the mother after Katrina, to proclaim "God is good," and I, as God's Holy Container, cry out for the parents of children at our southern borders for God's mercy and love to shelter these people in their great need, instead of being separated and sheltered in detention centers or tents.