The Ministry of Tenderness
Last Wednesday, ICE officials carried out an immigration enforcement operation in seven different businesses across Mississippi. Word of the raids and the 680 persons detained quickly spread through local, statewide, and national media.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., our episcopal leader in The Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, issued a letter after the raids that included these powerful statements:
I’m not concerned with your personal political stances and thoughts on implications related to U.S. immigration, but I am concerned about the well-being and stability of families. Specifically, I am concerned about the children who suffered a sudden and traumatic separation from their families on what was for many, the first day of school here in Mississippi.
Reactions to the raids have reminded us of how divided we easily become in our opinions when we talk about subjects like immigration reform. Sometimes we become so engulfed in emotions, stances, politics, and issues that we forget our first priority as the Church is to the ministry of tenderness. Tending to one another without labeling as “the other.” Practicing gentleness. Caring with the love of a heart pierced on the cross. Tenderness grows from hearts that extend mercy because they know how desperately they need mercy. What I heard in Bishop Swanson’s pastoral letter was a call back to tenderness, a call to truly see the children and families and what they experienced.
With the call to see is the call to respond.
On our church’s Facebook page is a link to Bishop Swanson’s letter, along with tangible ways you can help as the Holy Spirit leads. I also have a longer reflection on the raids posted on my personal blog at www.darianduckworth.com/musings. As we continue to celebrate ministry with youth and children in worship this month, let us remember to pray for the young people beyond our church walls such as these frightened, young children of immigrants who need the tenderness we as the body of Christ can offer.
all good things to each of you,
Lectionary Texts for Sunday, August 18, 2019
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19