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How Ought We Respond?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1 John 4:11

That word, "ought," caught my eye as I was reading it alongside the recent accounts of the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees at our southern border. Men, women, and children crammed into spaces that we would not put livestock in! And yes, while we have just finished talking about our love for creation: our sacred earth and sacred work, I wouldn't want livestock subjected to that environment as well.

When the initial issues of overcrowding, lack of humane treatment, and the separation of children from their parents was first reported, I was moved to take action concerning these atrocities done in this country. Today, as I am sickened by the reports of massive incarceration, deplorable living conditions and the lack of the necessities of life — food, clothing, shelter, and medical care at our southern borders I need to ask myself again, "What do I need to do in response to this humanity crisis at the border? "

The passage above from 1 John 4:11 that was part of our text this past Sunday suggests what is needed in not only my response, but every person of faith here in the U.S. Since we are loved by God, ought we to love one another — even those seeking refuge from the dangers of their own countries? The issue arises when people whether a part of a faith community or a political ideology debate the word "ought." Does that mean, I, as a person of faith, have to help those seeking freedom here? Must, I, as a part of a faith community, reach out in any way I can to help alleviate the crisis at the border? Should, I, as a tax-paying citizen of this country need to address this humanitarian crisis?

When you flesh out all the meanings of ought as a person of faith, member of a faith community, or a citizen of the United States, there is a tendency to "compartmentalize" our responses because we can "twist" and argue and manipulate ought to make us feel better about our response.

  • "I know I ought to do something, but I am only one individual...

  • "Why do I have to do something? That is the government's problem?

  • "Why should I help, these people coming here from Latin America must be looking for a free handout.

If this passage from 1 John 4:11 causes you to stop and try to legitimize why you can't act, perhaps a reading of Matthew 25 where Jesus says, "What you did to the least of these, you did it to me."

If you feel you are called to do something, you might try the following:

  • Pray for those people in the inhumane conditions at our southern borders that help will come sooner than later.

  • Pray for those trying to make things better for the men, women, and children who are suffering from the over-crowding and delays in the hearings for asylum.

  • You might check the United Church of Christ website under "Refugee Ministries" for ways to help.

  • And, it never hurts to contact your representatives in the House and Senate.

And finally, I hope you will join me in prayer to discern how this community of faith ought to respond to the "least of these."

I will be attending my granddaughter's dedication this Sunday at my family's church. A dedication is similar to an infant baptism, except without the water. It is hard to believe she is five months old now!

Rev. Gary Stillwell will bring the message as well as preside over communion.

Pastor Steve

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