We are going through James in church. It was the first part of chapter 3 today. A warning to teachers especially but to all of us, as well, about the impact of our words. Through our words we can love others, be good neighbors, bless. We can do the opposite, too. We are a wordy society. We have talk shows on the radio, tv and internet podcasts. We can listen to someone speaking all day. Rants on the radio get good ratings. We seem to like hearing someone else take someone down who we don't care for and the ranter can say what we cannot. Key words are "don't care for". We could hardly care less. Unfortunate words come out of a care less mind. We have plenty of bad examples. Donald Trump is riding a wave of hateful words right now. People love him, some say, because he is saying what lots of us are thinking. He is not afraid to say it. He should be, James says. He is showing he would be a strong leader. Really, all we have are words. What are his actions? What has he done? Does he practice true religion according to James.
Our world is witnessing a refugee crisis the magnitude of which we have never seen. On tv we watch as thousands trek hopefully toward a better, safer place. Babies in arms, small children weary by the side of their parents, parents shouting, begging, crying, at wits end. Some countries build bigger fences with barbed wire on top while other countries offer to take in thousands, ten thousand, twenty thousand but we are hearing of thousands coming toward freedom and safety every day now. President Obama has said we will take ten thousand Syrians. Other leaders in our country criticize this move because it could let in terrorists. Ann Coulter in a column last week spread fear that every refugee is a potential terrorist. She named some, an Uzbeki, Chechnyan Muslims (the Boston Bombers), a Hutu who killed many Tutsis in his homeland, and the list goes on and on, she wrote. If they - the refugees are not coming to kill us then they want to mooch off us and our generous welfare system. Keep them out before they destroy us she demands.
Trump would build walls. I know a person who would have been deported under a Trump presidency. She is a Christian from Mexico who came here illegally in the arms of her father. She is married, held jobs and served Christ in many ways through her church. I know other refugees, a family from Ukraine, and one from Sudan. Christians who have worked hard and are giving back to the country that took them in. They are thankful to have been given a chance for a safer, better life.
The violent landscape the people flee is complicated: Western countries and Russia offer support to one side or the other of the warring factions by sending arms, and other help. The countries of the refugees are torn apart and they flee but the countries who want to fix the problem in their homelands do not want to fix the problem when it becomes too dangerous to stay put. Even if they have the resources to help. Do they care? Do we?
What have we gained in the wealthy West if we have all our material comforts but we keep those in desperate need out. Will we lose our soul, have we?
Today in church we prayed:
Jesus enlarge our hearts,
To embrace the stranger.
To see the vulnerable.
Unstop our ears to hear
the cries for help.
Let us cultivate love,
Return to the essentials
Love our neighbors,
All else is clutter. (Christine Sine)