“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:5
Y cualquiera que reciba en mi nombre a un niño como este, a mí me recibe”. Mateo 18:5
On June 29, 2019 Bishop Megan Traquair, along with all the other Episcopal Bishops in California, signed a public statement regarding “Separation of Families: What You Can Do”. Stating in part;
“Finally, we ask all Episcopalians to offer whatever financial, practical, and spiritual aid you can to care for those seeking refuge. Our dioceses will publish a detailed guide of ways you can help migrant families. Meanwhile, please pray with us that God will move the hearts of all in our land to respond with love and compassion for those who seek safety, liberty and justice.
The bishops of the six Episcopal Dioceses of California urge us to speak out and act on behalf of immigrants seeking refuge and asylum in the United States, and especially detained children. Many people are understandably concerned about the welfare of migrants and seek ways to help.”
We are also encouraged to pray daily for immigrants and for all the agencies and volunteers working with them. Pray for local, state, and national leaders, for law enforcement agencies, and for immigration courts. Pray for the news media and for the safety and integrity of journalists.
At their meeting on July 23, 2019, St. Paul’s Vestry approved a fundraising event to solicit desperately needed donations for the benefit of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, San Diego. This church provides clothing, food, phone cards, and travel funds for asylum seekers.
In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, pastor dissident, and martyr shortly before his execution in July 1944:
Choose to do what it right, not what fancy takes, no weighting the possibilities, but bravely grasping the real, not in the flight of ideas, but only in action is there freedom. Come away from your anxious hesitations into the storm of events, carried by God’s command and your faith alone. Then Freedom will embrace your spirit with rejoicing.”
The Sanctuary of St Paul’s is divided by a wall of 40 boxes, each box is emblazoned with one of 40 words of separation. This barrier and the words printed upon them provide a visual and visceral reminder of the separation one person from another as well as our own separation from God’s will.
The issues of freedom, safety and belonging are universal problems from all times and all regions. This has become particularly relevant in our own time, our own nation, state and city.
Our purpose is to remove this barrier box by box as we receive donations to support the work of welcoming the stranger and giving asylum and rest to those seeking peace and respite from violence and poverty. Our goal is lofty but not insurmountable – for every $100.00 received a block will be removed until by achieving the goal of $4,000.00 the entire wall will have been removed.
Poet Emma Lazarus penned the words now engraved on the Statue of Liberty in 1886:
“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-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”