Archive | July 2014

Offering The Treasures: Rev. Judy’s Homily for the 17th Sunday OT July 27, 2014

 

Opening Prayer: Our loving God, You want all good things for Your people and You give us treasure beyond compare in Your love and in Your word and in Your son Jesus, the Christ whom we follow. Grant that we may cherish your Gifts and bring ours to you so Your kin-dom may come. We ask this in the name of Jesus who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forevermore. Amen.

Today Jesus teaches us that there is treasure to be found, and we might just stumble across it; there are priceless pearls found when we search for them; and there are fish aplenty though some may not be tasty. In the words of the Epistle to the Romans(8:28-30), when we love God “all things work together for good” for us. And when we find the treasures of the kin-dom, they are worth everything. How wonderful is God’s giving to us.

I treasure the very few things that I received from my Grandmother Ella and Mother Anne that have survived the many decades since I was a young girl. Both gave me the intangible and enduring gifts of unconditional love and faith. They loved me no matter what. And their faith in God was passed down to me as their legacy. Those are gifts without price that made all the difference in my life. Over the fireplace in our living room there was always a little 3″ by 4″ plaque framed in gold leaf, with pine cones and little fir boughs in two corners that said: “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). I have it before me now. We knew poverty and illness and good times and bad times. My Grandmother would comment as the bad times passed-“It all worked together for good,as God said”. Sometimes I couldn’t see it, especially at times of loss and grief or change. But in time it was evident. What a priceless gift! As Mr. Gary, our church Elder, often says: God’s got your back! Wow!

In the first reading from Kings(3:5,7-12), Solomon asked only one thing of God, a wise and understanding, discerning, heart, and God granted his prayer.  That was his treasure, his gift from God and he gave it back in good measure. Many of us who counsel others have prayed that prayer in the midst of life’s complexities and challenges especially when we struggle with helping those who are hurting and upset.  It is lovely when that prayer is answered.

Sometimes the greatest treasures are found when we are not looking for anything. Pastor JudyB and I stumbled across the treasure of serving the homeless and hungry in Fort Myers when the City Council threatened that no one could feed people in the park. We went out to join those at Lamb of God, A Lutheran and Episcopal community, doing just that. And out of that, our whole ministry and church has developed. We stumbled across the treasure of God’s people. We were also actively searching for a way to serve and to enact justice and love. We found the way, for us the pearl of great price, in developing the ministry of the church in the park and then the church in the house. We also cast out our nets and hauled in a lot of fish over the years of becoming the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community. Not everyone stayed with us, some swam away of their own accord and some died as we tried to help them. But look at the haul, look at the people we serve, for us that is the treasure and the pearl of great price. You, our people, are the treasure, our church is the pearl of great price.

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So what should we do? Give up everything to keep it to keep the pearl of greatest price to us-yes, indeed!  But that is true for ALL of us, each one of us has something to give to God’s people and we may need to give up many other things to give our utmost for God’s finest, God’s people. The last verse in the Gospel reading guides us (Matthew 13:52): we who love and study and teach God’s kin-dom must bring out our treasures, old and new, to serve our guests. We don’t just throw out the old and usher in the new, we bring both old and new treasures from the storeroom of God’s love, law and word, and, following Jesus, set the Table before the people of God,  and all are welcome! Amen.     Rev. Dr. Judy Lee

Con la Comunidad consagramos, damos gracias y entregamos nuestros dones a la Esencia Divina de la Vida    Woman Priest  Rev. OlgaLucia Alvarez Benjumea serving at the TableTerminada la Eucaristía,la abuela Gladys madre del novio, nos preparó un delicioso almuerzo, para todos los invitados.Le ayudaron a servir las tias Ninfa, Cecilia y los muchachos.

 

 

I AM HOME ! THANK GOD !

When we share our love, support and labor the American dream comes true for families who knew hard times, poverty, homelessness and hopelessness. Their hard work and partnership with Habitat for Humanity, corporations, churches like Good Shepherd,Thrift Stores like Lamb of God,St. Columbkille, and Pope John the 23rd and Managers Marge, Carrel and Cynthia, and many volunteers like Charlotte Williams, Debbie Carey and Kathy Lauwagie and Kathy Overby,  has made dreams come true for three families.   100_3983 100_3990 100_3999

On July 18,2014 Pastor Judy Lee and Pastor Judy Beaumont blessed the houses of three elated  recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes. Our Liliana and Marcella worked very hard and were one of the happy families receiving the keys for their new home.  Son, Gaspare was helping with the move at the time of the pictures. Claire and Hank Tessandori helped to furnish Liliana’s home.

100_4005Carol Schauf and her friend George, wonderful CTA(Call To Action) volunteers also came to help Liliana with home furnishings. 100_4006 100_4003THIS is the key! Thanks be to God!

Jimmy Carter’s dream for affordable housing for everyone brought Habitat For Humanity into existence.. With the financing and labor of three Corporations and the sweat equity of the families and their friends and churches the houses were built and the American dream came true for three families on this day.

On Friday June 18,2014 our Good Shepherd Church Member Liliana with Marcella and their dog Spike at her side, received the keys to her own new home along with the families of Rosario and Seantai. It was such a joy to be asked to bless the houses of these three hardworking and wonderful families!

 

On July the 22nd,2014 we had the pleasure of visiting three of our other women in their new homes. Kathy recounted the miracles that restored her life and home. She could not stop thanking God for our help and for the opportunity to serve the other women in her community along with us. She is the onsite minister in her new community.Her favorite words are:

“I’m home,Thank God!”      100_4022100_4023

 

Here is Kathy and Pastor JudyB. in Kathy’s beautiful home! Kathy said that there is not a more beautiful word on earth than “home”.

This is Ruby in her new home. She still cannot believe that everything is new. She said once, when I was a child I lived in a real home like this. I thought I’d never have one again. Thank God and Goodwill Industries for the physically disabled, and you both for my home.

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And Diane says she is happier than she has ever been in her new home. Her rent is high for her but she is showing us how she buys wisely and conserves her money. I am just fine, she says. Diane’s joy brings happiness to all she meets.

100_4019100_4021How wonderful it is to have what everyone should have, a home and food to   eat!

 Thanks to Kay Alexander, Diane has a new couch and two tables and a TV converter box. Diane has not had a TV in years and loves it! 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane’s smile says it all, Thanks be to God! And, a special thank you to The Father’s Table Foundation that assisted us in helping Diane to have a home and all the furnishings. Thanks to Carol and George pictured above as well, for helping Diane with a new bed and several necessary items.

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A Summer of Learning and Fun for The Good Shepherd Youth

 A Summer of Learning and Fun For The Good Shepherd Youth

All children and youth look forward to summer when the pressures and demands of the school year finally recede. Summer is a time of renewal and replenishment for them. When families live below, at or barely above the poverty level there are few resources to provide special experiences for enjoyment and social and spiritual growth.  In Fort Myers, there are no free programs that children can attend. Hanging around the house all day to avoid the heat and rain is the primary alternative. But, thanks to a generous grant from The Father’s Table Foundation and donations of time and money from volunteers our Good Shepherd Ministries has been able to offer special trips and outings on a weekly basis in addition to meeting on Sunday afternoons to process and discuss the experiences. Part of this time is used for them to write and draw about their experiences and each will have a little book at the end.

In various constellations according to age and reasoning we have thus far taken eight exciting trips and also provided funds for parents to take their children to special movies. In May we had the young people discuss, rank and vote on a list of possible trips. We are more than half way through their list as of July 18th. Thus far 15 young people have participated ranging in age from 5 to 18 with two others, 20 and 26. Our older youth are either leaders or special needs young adults. Additionally we have involved three parents as chaperones and leaders to give them enriching experiences along with their children. Other adults from the Ministry have also chaperoned. The parents process the experiences as well as the children and the learnings of all have been invaluable and precious.

DISNEY World

The first very special trip was for the teenage class plus one special needs 12 year old. It was a reward for excellent Sunday School attendance and academic accomplishments. We celebrated our High School Senior, Natasha Terrell who was graduated in May and Keion Lewis, age 12, who made wonderful success in reading and was promoted to Middle School.  Five young people attended this trip ages 12-18.  It was the first trip to Disney for Keion and his 16 year old brother Keeron.

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This is what Keeron wrote later: “Disney World for the first time with family and church members was a mind blowing experience and I will never forget it. Getting to the hotel then leaving to Magic Kingdom-from packing to leaving I enjoyed every second of it with you. At Magic Kingdom Thunder Mountain was good but Splash Mountain was better and Space Mountain was the best…. I can’t get over how much money you had to spend so all of us could eat (Laugh Out Loud- LOL). Even though I can get difficult sometimes I just want you to know I appreciate everything big and little you do for me.”

Keeron is 16 and he has many pulls on his young life, including gangs and drugs. He is steering clear of these and needs the love and connection of the church and youth group to do it. His growing faith has changed him dramatically. He is actively trying to live a Christian life and his witness has recently helped his older brother to return to the church as well. A Disney trip is expensive, but if it helps redeem young lives by showing that we care enough to provide special experiences, it is more than worth it.  Jolinda, 16, wrote “I loved every minute of it. But the best part was being together with the group and going on the rides. Some were exciting and some were educational so I actually learned a lot! I am very thankful”!

Natasha, 18 wrote: This trip reminded me of how lucky I am to have people who are willing to take me and my family on beautiful trips. How blessed I am to see things that others may never get the chance to experience. I know that I shall remain humble and continue to do the works of God and find a better connection with God because I am experiencing so much because of God. I am so thankful to get away from all of the craziness of Fort Myers and enjoy myself with my Pastors and the group without pressures and worries. It is amazing to have Pastors who enjoy seeing their youth have fun and that love to bring such happiness to us.  With much love, Natasha.

The Escape Zone and Zoomers

On June 13th  ten young people ages 5-16,and their young adult leader Efe and Linda, a parent, enjoyed a day of activities at the Escape Zone, an indoor amusement area with a skating rink.  While two of the 12 year olds enjoyed the games of skill, the big hit was the roller rink as most learned how to skate for the first time. Jolinda, a 16 year old who generally lacks confidence  said: “The Escape Zone was a great time. I had fun with the little ones. My favorite part was skating and teaching the little ones as much as I know about skating. I had a good time with everyone and even though I’m not the best skater, I never gave up which is different for me”! Keeondra, the 13 year old agreed that she was so pleased to remember how to skate. Twelve year old Marcella drew a beautiful picture of skates and said “skating was fun even though I could barely skate without the wall. Thanks!” Marcella, like Jolinda, is a youngster who avoids trying new things and gives up easy. Jakeriya, age 12 said  “Although I kept falling, I still had fun, thank you!” That day they all learned to persevere and had great fun doing it. The three five year olds drew wonderful pictures of three smiling skaters, even when one fell down! There were very good lessons here.

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photo 3On June 20th nine young people ages 7-18 and youth leader Efe with parent Linda went to Zoomers an outdoor Amusement Park. This was a real treat as it was in another part of Fort Myers and none had been able to go there before. Twelve year old Jakein wrote “ Zoomers was my favorite of all trips so far.  We got on two roller coasters that were equally fun. We also went on Go-Karts and even my Mom went on. That was fun!”  His older sister Jolinda agreed. “But, spending time with my church family is the best and I look forward to coming each time”.  This family has recently faced the terminal health problem of their older brother, they have been filled with sadness and worry. To get away and have fun is such good therapy. Natasha the oldest sister said” “It was so good seeing everyone have fun and smile and laugh. There was something there for everyone. The big kids enjoyed experimenting with driving with the racing cars!” Jakeriya said, “When I looked around and saw the smiles on their faces I knew everyone was happy and getting along. So, thank you, I think everyone bonded on that trip”. Indeed, the bonding as a group is so important to the progress these youngsters are making that will carry over to school and life. Pastor Judy Beaumont attended parts of these two trips and reflected that seeing the older kids help one another and the younger kids to enjoy the attractions was the best part for her.

Seeing God’s Creatures-The Shell Factory Zoo and Rides

On 6/27 eleven young people ages 5-18, our young adult youth Leader Efe, and parent, Linda visited the Shell Factory where they toured the large outdoor zoo and aviary and then rode the zipline and bumper boats to cool off on the hot day. Keeron, 16 wrote: “Bobcats, racoons, parrots, turtles and owls, I saw them all at the Shell Factory! The Zipline was awesome and scary at the same time!” Jakeriya, 12, wrote” Thank you for letting us discover the animals and learn more about them. There were big long snakes and the petting farm with the baby goats.  I was scared of the zipline at first, but when I went on it I saw the turtles and fish when I looked down. It was so much fun!” Jolinda said “I liked the black leopard with the green eyes best. But it was the expressions on the little kids’ faces that were priceless: they really enjoyed themselves!” Keion was laughing as Jakein told the story of Keion and the parrot having a screaming contest. He said Keion won the contest, and Keion was pleased to agree!

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The Broadway Palm Dinner Theater-Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat

We had prepared for this event for a long time. There was much anticipation and they were not let down. All of the kids read the story of Joseph in the Bible and discussed it several times in their respective classes and groups. On the day of the event, July 10th, they were able to tell the story to the accompanying parents and chaperones.  Ten young people ages 7-26, all dressed in their Sunday best, their young adult leader and parents Linda and Debbie with two other church members and both Pastors (a group of 17) enjoyed this musical theater experience.  Negotiating the Buffet and the formal table settings was also a pleasurable learning experience.

Gaspare, a young adult who has been fearful of leaving his home and joining with others was able to join us accompanied by his sister, Marcella. Both loved the play. Marcella, who wants to be an artist was mesmerized by the sets and the costumes. She also got the plot and loved the acting. Gaspare said “This was my first Play, a Broadway Musical, and the experience was great! It was very entertaining. It was very creative and the performers are very talented. They did a wonderful job. Joseph helped his brothers despite being treated poorly in the past. Even though he was a slave he was blessed and became powerful in Egypt.”Gaspare was also “poorly treated” in the past and he identifies with a Joseph that can overcome that and “become powerful”. He also reflected  “I did have some difficulty because it was so packed but it was a bit easier with my sister. The food was great too. I’m glad I could write and that my mind was able to grasp and enjoy the play. That is progress for me, thank you for inviting me”.

Seven year old Joelle and her Mom loved the play. Joelle asked her mother to write that she learned that we must all learn to forgive each other and not be jealous, but to love one another. Her Mom said that they were both so thankful for the experience and that Joelle also identified with the little children on stage and felt she could be in a Play some day too. She practically danced in her seat throughout the show and we had no doubt that she too could learn to act in a Musical Play, They intend to find out when next auditions are. She would be great! Keeron, 16 also identified with the actors, “I once was in a play about William Shakespeare and I did a good job remembering a big role. I enjoyed this play, and the kids in it, and the dancing was great too! They thought they didn’t need Joseph, but they did and he taught them a valuable lesson. ” Mom, Linda, reflected on Joseph’s forgiveness of those who treated him so poorly. “I learned that if God can forgive me for the wrongs I have done, then I can forgive everyone anything as Joseph did. I have carried hate and grudges but when I gave them up and forgave it was a load off my chest”.   Jolinda noted “Joseph always had hope no matter what happened to him. He kept hope”! Indeed, as she said, it seemed this joyful and sometimes funny play with a serious theme made each group member feel more hopeful .

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7/17 The Butterfly Estates and the Movies

On this day fifteen young people (ages 5-26) and four adults including the Pastors enjoyed an oasis of Nature in downtown Fort Myers. Only one youngster and one adult had been there before. This was an aesthetic and beautiful educational experience. One docent taught about cocoons and butterflies in one area while the other walked the group through a hothouse garden with waterfalls and tropical greenery that house butterflies freely flying.  No matter the age each one was fascinated. Ray, age 9, was unusually quiet and took in everything. Then he took my hand and showed me a chart of butterflies and explained all that he learned. I was amazed that this usually hyperactive boy was so moved and thoughtful. Our adults accompanied the younger kids and explained the wonders before them. The littlest girls, the five year olds were entranced. The teens tried hard to take pictures of the butterflies. This was a wonderful experience for all and they then went to have lunch together and see a movie. They had a choice of two movies and they all chose to go together as a group. Once again, Marcella enabled her brother Gaspare to enjoy this group experience. It was well worth the effort.

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We are extremely thankful to The Father’s Table Foundation for changing the lives of young people this summer, for building hope and learning and joy. We still have a few trips to go before school starts and afterward will continue our enrichment outings on some basis.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, Good Shepherd Ministries

July 22,2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Nun: Same-Gender Relationships Are a ‘Sacrament’ of God’s Love

photo 3 The sun is breaking through the darkness.

This is an article from the New Ways Ministry Blog by Bob Shine. What a courageous nun!

All I can say is Amen!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,A Roman Catholic Woman Priest and Pastor

 

Spanish Nun: Same-Gender Relationships Are a ‘Sacrament’ of God’s Love

Spain’s Sister Teresa Forcades is a well-known activist for women’s rights, political autonomy in her home country and region, and economic justice. She has been labeled “Europe’s Most Radical Nun,” and she challenges the Church as often as she challenges unjust structures in society.

This Benedictine nun is also an advocate for LGBT people, offering the following insights in an interview earlier this year. Sr. Forcades goes beyond allowing for LGBT people to express themselves sexually and have relationships to celebrate them as profound and beautiful signs of God’s love in the world:

Sr. Teresa Forcades

“The religious analysis that understands sex as something that is intended for procreation is a utilitarian view of human love and is contrary to Christian spirituality. To surrender to the mystery of an interpersonal relationship is to surrender to growing towards being an image of God, towards incarnating what God represents on earth. Upon entering, you receive a gift, that this union could engender a child, but that’s perfectly compatible with you being able to be responsible and use contraception when you please…

“So I think that homosexual love is perfectly understandable to the church, because it has what is essential: it’s not having children, but an open intimacy to an interpersonal relationship that includes respect for the integrity of the other. Two people who love one another, desire one another, and respect one another are giving testimony: this is the sacrament, a visible sign — like baptism — that’s saying, ‘This creature is accepted in this community as any other.’ Trinitarian theology says that all sacraments are an embodiment of God’s love. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are different but they are not complementary. Love is not necessity; it’s not when I need you because I’m missing something. It can’t be utilitarian love.”

A tip of the hat to Michael Bayly who writes on on Catholic LGBT issues at The Wild Reed for drawing attention to Sr. Forcades’ powerful words. She has long been a proponent of LGBT rights, and a recent profile in The Guardian notes of Sr. Teresa:

“Before she took her vows in 1997, Forcades tested the other nuns by giving a talk on a group of gay Catholics who celebrated their sexuality as a gift from God. She was humbled by the nuns’ humane reaction and, so, joined them.”

In March, Sr. Teresa visited Baltimore and lectured on a variety of justice-related issues. She views change in the Catholic Church as many do, a bottom-up effort, saying:

“When I talk about church, we talk about how the Gospel inspired us. There are many kinds of church, and I identify with the people at the bottom, at the base. Many people have a hope that the Catholic church might change because of the pope, but if you look at history, change comes from bottom up, not from top down.”

You can read more about that visit in the National Catholic Reporter or read a profile of Sr. Teresa in The Guardian by clicking here.

From her lips to the bishops’ ears! But, in the meantime, it is those same-gender couples living out this sacrament of God’s love who are not waiting for change in the Church, but creating it from the bottom up. Gratitude that Sr. Teresa is willing to speak that truth to power, as she so often does!

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

God’s Reign is Like A Woman Adding Yeast: Rev. Judy’s Homily for OT16-7/20/14

I love the Scriptures that the church uses for worship for the 16th Sunday in “Ordinary time”. They address the question: What is the reign of God like?  What is the kingdom of God like? What is the kin-dom of God like? and primarily: what is God like?

The first reading from Wisdom 12:13-19 says that our God “cares for every living thing” and that God gives us good grounds for hope that we can be forgiven when we goof big time/sin. Sometimes, today’s theology can be too ethereal and make God into a principle for life living in everything-like DNA,some even say that God is not about caring for us. But this Scripture says otherwise and I believe it and know it through so much that happens to me and to our people.

On Thursday, Flora, one of our women with a professional background was experiencing much stress and was in the midst of a complete mental breakdown. We were called but got there just in time to see her throw the last of her belongings into her car and begin to drive off abandoning her home. “They” were after her and she was going to escape “them” in her car. We were able to get her to come inside and soothe her. She was totally incoherent but very frightened at the voices and “men” hounding her. We did not know that she had experienced a break once before in the past and with all of my clinical and pastoral experience, and having witnessed other psychotic breaks, I had never seen a breakdown of organized and rational thinking like this. I comforted her with gentle reality and invited her to come with us to a new Psychiatric hospital where she could get good treatment. In a moment of sheer grace, she accepted the invitation and later that day was accepted for a voluntary inpatient stay. She was so relieved that she thanked God profusely. One minute later she would have been gone in her car with fear at the wheel. Thanks be to God for caring for every living being!!!

The Psalm (86:5-16) reinforces our God is “abounding in kindness to all who call upon God”. And the epistle says that the Spirit of God comes to the aid of our weakness and even prays for us with “inexpressible groanings”. Indeed God heard the incoherent prayer of Flora and interceded so that she did not take flight when she desperately wanted safety and help.

In the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13 we learn again this week that God is sowing the seeds of the “kingdom/kin-dom” in everyone and we don’t know which will be the seed that comes to full maturity and productivity to enhance the reign of God. Last Sunday I brought some seeds to church and some little pots and had the children plant the seeds in the pot and in the planter outside. Some are growing already and some are not.  The inside ones have been watered equally but some did not sprout and the outside ones are watered by the rains. We can’t judge what is going to happen but we will see as the little plants grow. Jesus is clear in the parable that the sower is God’s Chosen One, God is the sower, Jesus, the Christ is the sower. We are all the seed. Last week we thought about the conditions in life,the soil, that can nourish or choke out the seed. This week we learn again that God is sowing and the kindom will grow and flourish in many of us. The other readings illuminate that the nature of God,love, is also to be the nature of God’s reign: caring for all living beings with love and justice. Indeed there is a lot of war and hatred and violence in today’s world and materialism that chokes out goodness, BUT there are also endless examples of love and compassion and justice.  In our News here in SWFl, there is an attempt to share stories of the individuals who make a difference in the world by their extraordinary efforts. Yesterday I had the honor of blessing 3 Habitat For Humanity Homes as one of our members, Liliana, received the keys for her own new home as did two others.  The joy in the room was palpable. Corporate generosity, the giving of money and labor and time, and community labor, including from Lili and our own church members, and Jimmy Carter’s vision that poor people should own homes, made this miracle of homes for the poor possible.  This is what the kingdom/kindom of God looks like- it is in our midst.

My favorite part of the Gospel for today is where Jesus says that God’s reign is like a woman folding a very little bit of fermenting yeast into a huge amount of flour. First,we note that “the farmer” is a metaphor for God as is “the woman” who is the baker.  This is is Jesus talking revolutionary talk-in essence God is described in feminine terms-as a woman fermenting the dough!! This would have shocked his listeners who saw God in male terms. Also, Jesus saw the growth of the kindom as a fermenting process-this is a process of “corrupting”/breaking apart the dough so something new and tasty will emerge.This is a covert action. We are to be the ferment in the dough-the leaven in the world and in the church. We are to shake things up like Jesus did until we get it right. We are to make the church inclusive of all, at the Table, and in the priesthood-that all of God’s people may be served at Communion and with all of the Sacraments and may serve as priests and pastors of God’s people. And, we pray that we have the courage to ferment-to struggle with the poor and outcast for economic equality and justice.

We thank our loving God, our Mother/Father God for loving us, each and every one and seeking justice for all God’s people.

Amen!

We are all in the same boat!!!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee ARCWP

A orillas del rio Cauca. La Rv Maria Teresa  con las niñas de la Comunidad, en una actividad celebrativa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Suffer the little Children”

This is a cartoon by Daryl Cagle from the Fort Myers-News-Press. It came in response to several letters to the Editor that sounded very much like this.

I guess  we will have to pray a lot to balance out this meanspirited “prayer”-but then I think God ,

who is Love, and on the side of these children, will help us find a way to assist them with love.

The early King James English version of “Let the little children come unto me….” was “Suffer the little children (to come unto me”)- sadly some still read it “Suffer the little children! ”

Here’s to a good dose of love, Pastor Judy Lee

 

 

Voices For Children: Let the Children Come Unto Me

Here are two good articles on behalf of the immigrant children. We must find a way to help them and not inflict further hurt. We need to find ways to act on their behalf even as we keep them and their self-sacrificing parents in prayer. Can you imagine how it must have been for these parents to pay passage to”Coyotes” (those who take the children to the border) to send their precious children to hope and freedom from violence and fear only to have them returned again-defeated. The Gospel is all about inclusion and hope, as the Sojourners article says: let the critics at least read the Gospel!

We must protect the young and innocent
Denys Arcuri 10:32 p.m. PDT July 10, 2014

Seldom has a story so affected me emotionally as the story of the “flood of illegal immigrant” children seeking safe haven in the United States and the reception they got in Murrieta.

That this country is still a beacon of freedom and justice is amazing to me when the reality apparently falls somewhat short of those ideals.

I hold this truth to be self-evident: There is a rule that is more important than the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. There is something more important than the issue of taxation without representation, than living a wealthier life, than religion.

It is this: We must first and foremost protect the young and the innocent.

Even animals understand this. A mother leopard will risk her life to protect her kittens. She might even adopt a wayward cub of another species.

For the record, I’m an old white guy. My life, my existence, is precious, at least to me and to those who are close to me. It ought to be precious even to you. But my life is not so important as the life of, say, a 6-year-old child. A child of any color from anywhere on earth. We already have the record of what I have done with my life, good or bad. But the child is all potential, all dreams, all hope. A child has not had the opportunities to experience all of life’s joys and tribulations yet. I have.

All other things being equal, a surgeon deciding whether to transplant a healthy heart into a 6-year-old black child from Ethiopia and yours truly, leaving the other to die, correctly and morally chooses to let me die.

There are roughly 320 million people in the United States. If we had a “flood” of immigrants here amounting to 1 percent, that would be 3.2 million people. But the numbers we’re talking about here amount to less than 10 percent of that 1 percent. Way less.

We often see Third World countries dealing with hundreds of thousands of refugees from war, famine and disease. Sudden massive populations of immigrants amounting to a much greater burden to the host countries who have far fewer resources than we do. Ho-hum. Bear in mind that these countries shouldering these burdens are not known as the light of the world, the keeper of the peace, the leader among the world’s nations.

I am not a religious person, but I think it’s appropriate at this point to ask: What would Jesus do? Would He wave a flag in front of a starving child, do you think? Would He curse him with hate speech and tell him to go back to his life in an earthly hell? Remember, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”?

It’s also appropriate to ask if we need to change some laws to prevent exploitation by those who would defraud the system. Yes, we do. And that applies to immigrants and native-born citizens as well. Do we need to expose children to rape and murder by deporting them? No, we don’t. In fact, we are morally bound to do the opposite.

The Statue of Liberty has inscribed on it the words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me . . .”

The Declaration of Independence says that “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If you are going to wave the red, white and blue and spew hate to this wretched refuse newly deposited on our doorstep, please don’t assume to be speaking for all Americans when you do. Xenophobia, power and the bottom line might frame your idea of this country’s raison d’être, but I’m clinging to what I consider crucial American values: kindness, acceptance, freedom and peace.

Denys Arcuri is a longtime valley broadcast journalist, freelance writer and former legislative assistant for the late Supervisor Roy Wilson. Email him at denysarcuri@yahoo.com

 

Put your faith into action for social justice!

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Dear Judy,

Jesus: “Let the little children come to me.”

Fox News Pastor: “Children stuck at the border? Build a bigger fence.”

Yep, that’s right – Fox News recently featured Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress claiming that the “Christian” way to respond to immigrant children in distress is to build a stronger border fence. You’ve heard the stories: tens of thousands of children are currently stuck at the border after fleeing crime and violence in their home countries. These children need our compassion – not calls for a bigger fence.

This pastor has gone too far – and Fox News is only enabling his outrageous claims. Let’s tell Fox their pastor is wrong: Christians need to welcome immigrants and love our neighbors.

Pastor Jeffress has a history of making shameful statements posing as religious truth. In January, he said that President Obama was paving the way for the antichrist. He’s now on the record saying that the “right thing to do” with children alone in the desert is to lock them out. Pastor Jeffress needs to read Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

We know better. Let’s make a strong statement against these outrageous claims by calling on Fox to feature pastors who actually read their Bibles!

With evangelicals across the country united for immigration reform, Fox News has plenty of other religious voices to choose from. Let’s remind them that the pastors they feature should reflect biblical teaching!

In faith,
Janelle, Tim, and the rest of the Sojourners team

Pope Francis cartoon2 Can we not share with

the world’s children?

In Solidarity and love,

Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP