Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Summer is upon us. For some this means the end of school and a much-deserved break. For some we are planning trips and vacations to be with loved ones or perhaps to venture forth to new destinations. For some, it’s a chance to catch our breath and enjoy walking around this beautiful area.
A few of us are preparing to go on the Mexico Mission Trip with Sleepy Hollow Presbyterian Church. (Follow us on the blog.) Thank you to everyone who’s helped us raise money and have offered us your warm wishes. We are truly blessed to have such a supportive community! Upon our return, perhaps this fall, I hope we’ll hear from Zach, Jennie, and Cheryl about our experience. For now, I’d like to share with you about a video we watched.
Which Way Home is a documentary that follows several migrant children as they try to make it to the United States via Mexico.1 The children face harrowing dangers and come face to face with situations I, as an adult, would prefer to avoid. I’m not sure which part saddened me most. Is it the poverty that leads children to thinking a 1,000+-mile journey by themselves is worth it? Is it the lack of hope and opportunity in their own families and communities? Is it knowing that America isn’t necessarily as ideal a place as these kids seem to think? Is it feeling absolutely helpless as I watch children jump on and off of trains?
This film was part of our pre-trip training. It gave us an opportunity to hear stories from children and youth and to begin to appreciate the complex situations of immigration and poverty. It put a human face on the poverty and migrant influx that leads to needing shelter…shelters like the ones we will be building in just a few weeks.
This video reminds me of a song I heard for the first time recently. It was the benediction response at the installation service for the new associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian church, the Rev. Bethany Nelson. She said she learned this song at a camp growing up and, clearly made a difference in her life. Here are the lyrics:
“How Could Anyone” by Libby Roderick
How could anyone ever tell you
you are anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
you are less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.
I’ve looked this music up on YouTube and recommend you do the same. It’s short, simple, and repeatable. The last two lines catch in my throat. It feels almost too vulnerable to sing them aloud. I’ve seen videos where this is sung as a lullaby. What a grace-filled turn of phrase to acknowledge a child’s love as miraculous. It is certainly true. How deeply I want to be connected to people whose faith can be so expressed. It is comfortable for me to sing this song and think of people I love easily. We Christians know that the next step is harder which is to try singing this with people we don’t like or don’t even know in mind. I would like the children riding the Mexican trains to know they are loved and that we are connected. It seems a small thing, for I cannot lift them out of poverty with a song. Perhaps it is I who will be changed in the singing and praying?
While we are swinging hammers in Mexico, our denomination will gather in Detroit, MI for the biennial, national gathering we call General Assembly. Many issues are taken up at GA, and it warms my heart that we have so many people from our congregation attending as advocates on numerous bills and issues. I know some people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of big, denominational politics, but here’s the thing: compassion and justice cannot happen without politics. We are deeply connected to the welfare of others. If we feel warm thoughts at the camp song, how can we then turn away when opportunities arise to make a difference in peoples’ actual lives? What a gift to be in a community of people who (tolerate if not) appreciate the need to act politically for the sake of love.
I hope that you will remember to hold the 57 participants of the Mexico Mission trip in your prayers. I hope you will also hold our denomination in your prayers as we all try to remember that we are deeply connected even when we are divided. And, whatever you do this summer and wherever you may go, may you feel God’s loving embrace surround you. If ever you doubt that you’re loved just the way you are, please start singing this song, and repeat.
Together we serve,
1Which Way Home can be found on Netflix streaming. Whichwayhome.net
Image taken from the documentary.
Sleepy Hollow Mexico Mission Blog: http://shpcmx.blogspot.com/