Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
A few years ago during my 35th visit to El Salvador, my mission team was delivering food parcels to poor families. We visited with two young families living together in a small mud brick house with a dirt floor. The young father in one of the families spoke some English. He thanked us for taking the time to come and visit in this community. He had three children, the youngest, a beautiful little girl about 2 years old. When I said goodbye and waved to the children, the little girl waved back. On impulse, I knelt down and asked the little girl in Spanish if I could give her a hug. She immediately came to me and hugged me. The parents looked surprised and said she doesn’t go to people she doesn’t know. I said in Spanish, “I have grandchildren. It’s the power of the grandfather!” The father said in English, “No, it’s the power of love!”
Archbishop Romero said just six months before he was martyred: “It means much to me when a child has the trust to hug me.” Children live in a world that has proven time and again it does not have their best interests at heart. Children are the most marginalized, the most vulnerable victims of suffering. During this Lenten season, let us repent of our callousness, our hardened hearts against children. Let us open our hearts to minister to children in our churches, our communities, and our world.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
Let us not tire of preaching love;
it is the force that will overcome the world.
Let us not tire of preaching love.
Though we see that waves of violence succeed
in drowning the fire of Christian love,
love must win out; it is the only thing that can.
God of love, hear our prayer.
We pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become educated this week:
Look for space where you can listen to impacted community members.
To cultivate growth this week:
Look for one way to collaborate with local immigrant organizations in your community this week.
To advocate this week:
Start a conversation with a neighboring congregation to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
David Haley is an elder in the North Carolina Conference and is currently serving Knightdale United Methodist Church.