On Agape, MLK and a Neighbor Wearing a Confederate Flag

It is MLK Day but, shockingly, I’ve just seen a neighbor who lives one street over from us strutting around the neighborhood wearing a Confederate flag sweatshirt.

No fig leaf of “honor our Confederate history” can cover such a naked, defiant and intentional display of racism.

Sadly, she is not alone in our small town. Others fly Confederate flags 365/24/7 in their front yards or paste decals to their cars or homes. In addition, several businesses display Rebel flags on their storefronts, again 365/24/7.

Of course, my neighbor would not be alone in any area or region of the United States. However, perhaps no region is more infected with racist toxin than the South. If you live within the boundaries of Old Dixie, latent or blatant racism is all around you. If it is not in your home, then it is just over the fence, infecting all irrespective of whether they acknowledge it.

I speak these things as a 65-year-old white male who was raised by a hardcore racist and who has lived all his years in the south. My father was one who regularly spewed racial venom. For example, he openly cheered King’s assassination. When I moved out of the house to cast out on my own, it soon became clear that his kind was well-represented in southern culture.

One thing, though, sets our neighbor apart from others—she and her husband display Christian decals, bumper stickers and symbols on their home and cars.

I know, I know. We all sin and fall short. True enough. And, embarrassingly, I still periodically see latent racism in me—and wonder how much I don’t see.

But I still cannot understand how someone claiming to follow Jesus of Nazareth can wrap their body in a flag that has steeped like tea for hundreds of years in a toxic brew of human domination, discrimination, segregation, intimidation, beating, torture, and murder.

The Bible clearly points to a path that calls us to overcome our racial, ethnic and gender prejudices—and does so in part using the homely example of the clothes we wear.

For example, in Galatians 3:26-27, St. Paul writes of the essential equality of all people who have clothed themselves, not in a symbol of hatred, but in Christ, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek. . . slave or free. . . male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” [emphasis added]

In Colossians 3:10-14, he pairs this concept of being clothed in Christ with the inner attitudes that should accompany it:

“[you] have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another. . .  forgive each other. Above all, clothe yourselves with love. . .”

A final irony of this woman’s public display of divisiveness (and, I must admit of my anger and desire to strike back) is that were Martin Luther King, Jr. to see her wrapped in that flag, he would strive to love her.

Perhaps nothing is more underappreciated about King than his ethic not only of non-violence but of agape love, the kind of love which Jesus calls for his disciples to have.

In the heat of his Civil Rights campaign, he once wrote:

“Nonviolent resistance … avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend. . . [that] the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. . . [S]omeone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love. . .”

King not only spoke those words but also lived them in the face not only of flags, but also of bombs, dogs, nightsticks, and jail.

As my neighbor and too many other show, his fight goes on.

 

 

 

 

In the Beginning and Moving Slow

Beginnings

We begin at the beginning.

In fact, we begin at least three beginnings: the beginning of a new year; the beginning of the Bible; and, the beginning of a year of congregational reading and discussion.

Commitments

As we do, I urge each of you who have thought about stepping onto this path of regular Bible reading to make two commitments.

First, commit to yourselves and to this church and to God that you will follow through on it.

Second, to commit to yourselves and to this church and to God that this will not be a resolution you will abandon easily.

I know its not easy to read through the Bible in one year.

There are some days that it is hard to keep up.

Illnesses can halt our progress, as can work demands, family matters or other life challenges, but you will be rewarded richly if you persevere.

I say that out of personal experience.

Many times over the years, I’ve heard or read interviewers ask the person being interviewed what their favorite book might be or, possibly, to name the book that most influenced their life.

As those questions were asked, I pondered my answer them, but have never had a satisfactory answer. . . until this week.

Of course, the answer was in front of me all along, but I didn’t realize it until I was reading the chapters prescribed for this week.

It occurred to me about Wednesday that the Bible is easily the most influential book in my life and that nothing else is even close.

I say that while admitting that there are parts of the Bible which I don’t like, there are parts of it I don’t understand, and there is a lot about it I do not know.

However, this is the book that has most shaped my life, directly and indirectly.

This is the book God used to turn my life around, to put me on a new career path that is not really about a career but about a calling . . . and to call me out of the hell of a life lived for self and onto the path of a life lived, at least partially, for God and others.

That is not to brag, sinner that I remain, but rather to acknowledge the truth.

Of course, it is easy for me to say that, because this is the book that has most affected almost all people living in the western world today even if they rarely open it, have never read a verse or can’t even remember the last time they saw one, because this book likely has shaped Western culture and the people in it more than any other single factor.

Unfortunately, the truth is that most Americans don’t know much about this book and rarely read it.

There is no need to chastise people about this, because it is even true of pastors, or at least pastors-to-be.

I remember taking my first Bible class in seminary.

I and my classmates filed in and found a place to sit.

Our Old Testament professor soon walked in and announced that we would start out slowly and go slow the entire semester because most of us were biblically illiterate and had little idea what was in the Bible and no idea about its story line.

I thought that must be so, because I didn’t know the Bible had a story line.

Did you know it had one?

Indeed, it does.

You and I are a part of it.

The story line begins at the beginning, Genesis 1:1.

That verse reads, as you remember, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. . .”

The story line ends in the very final verse of Revelation, 22:21, with a benediction from John, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”

You see, the story line is about God, God’s creation and God’s grace.

You and I—our living, breathing, eternal selves—are all caught upon within that story of God, God’s creation and God’s grace.

As St. Paul wrote in Acts 17:28, “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’…

As he wrote in Romans 14:8, “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

In some sense, God is the creator, star and producer of all that is, and we live on the stage he created.

We owe it to ourselves to read, discuss and learn from this book that devotes itself to God’s creation and the way people like you and me and Moses, Isaac, Abraham, Paul, Peter, and Matthew have encountered and struggled with and been blessed by God.

So, let’s devote ourselves this year to engaging God in the same way that hundreds of millions of Christians have done and been blessed by during that time—Holy Scripture.

A bit of housekeeping

Before we move to our first week’s readings, there are a few housekeeping measures to note.

First, bring your Bibles. Bring them each week. We are going to be students of the Bible, and we need to bring the main tool from which we will learn.

Second, bring your questions and comments.

I know, I know, most of us do not want to talk in church.

We are Methodists and may well be horrified at the thought of speaking during the middle of a worship service.

We can’t imagine ourselves doing that.

Most Methodists think that is something best left to Pentecostals and charismatics.

Besides that, most of us have long hated to ask questions in front of others or to say something which we are afraid might offend others or reflect poorly on ourselves.

But, let’s make this year different.

We always want to learn and grow in faith, hope and love.

We always want to be become better disciples.

We will fail in those if we don’t talk about what we love or hate or question about scripture.

Shoot, some things might even absolutely freak us out.

The Bible is filled with things to love or hate or question or not understand.

In that regard, I urge you to keep a notebook and jot down your reactions to each day’s readings—your thoughts, feelings, questions, or even objections.

I also want to invite you to contact me during the week.

My phone number and email and even home address are in the bulletin each week.

You can call, email or text and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

You can even talk to me at church or come by my house.

(Beware of the dog, though.)

If you have questions, however, I must warn you that I’ve played and lost many times that game known as “Stump the Pastor.”

In other words, I may be stumped and need to research the answer and get back to you.

Last in our housekeeping is an important matter on biblical interpretation.

I don’t mean to shock or offend anybody, but it is only in the last century and a half or so that there has been a widespread insistence on a literal reading of the Bible.

In fact, for the first few centuries after Jesus died, many Christians, including bishops and elders and church higher ups, interpreted the Bible primarily in an allegorical way.

By that I mean, they believed that the Bible talked in myths and metaphors that told the great and eternal truths of God and human beings and all creation.

Don’t misunderstand me on this, our mothers and fathers in the faith did not believe that the Bible was a work of fiction, fantasy or superstition.

They did believe, though, that it was chock full of Truth with a capital “T” irrespective of whether events happened exactly as described.

For example, many then and today read Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 as stating the truths that God created all that is and made humans in God’s image but that humans had this problem with sin and fell away from God.

They were not too concerned with arguing about what we might call scientific fact.

Was one day 24 hours?

Did God create all in exactly the way described?

Are we made from dirt or is that a metaphor to describe our earthiness compared to God’s heavenliness?

Let me note that it is valid to believe in the Bible as literal truth.

It is also valid to believe that some of the Bible is metaphorical or allegorical.

Comments or questions?

Onto this week’s verses

Let’s turn to the verses we read this week.

My goal in the few minutes we have left is to point out some themes we see in Genesis 1-13 that will recur throughout the Bible.

First, as noted a bit earlier, God is the star.

First and foremost, the Bible is about God.

However, this week’s verses also introduce to some important qualities of God, qualities that we will see as we continue our reading and likely will see at work in our lives.

One is God’s power.

Genesis describes a powerful God.

At one time, many churches regularly affirmed the omnipotence, the all-powerful nature of God.

Whether they do or not, however, Genesis 1 is all about God’s power.

We read, for instance, that God created all that is out of a void, out of nothing.

That is power.

We see that when God speaks His word, things happen.

“God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.”

That is power.

We also see God’s power when we look at His creation.

For example, we see that power in the astonishing photography of stars and galaxies billions of light years away.

These photographs look like a brilliant display of fireworks in the inky blackness of space.

And we can see God’s power not just on that immense, unimaginable scale, but also in the wonder of a sunrise, the beauty of a smile, the touch of a loved one.

I do not question whether God made it all.

It seems clear to me that the universe has great power and intention behind, not just in the beginning, but in the sustaining, nurturing, caring for creation.

Just think of creation on our small scale.

Our planet is tipped just the right amount from the sun and just far enough away from it so that we will remain in this orbit that brings us the days and seasons and is so beautifully adjusted that we will neither freeze not burn up.

And meanwhile, there is a force at work holding us here so that we do not fly off or ascend into space.

And the atmosphere is set just right to allow the right amount of oxygen to maintain life.

That is the big deal about global warming and climate change—are we messing with God’s handiwork in a way that will limit or even extinguish life?

Beyond God’s immense power we see other qualities.

For example, his presence.

His presence in the beginning.

In the garden.

Sadly, with Cain and Abel.

And, in the days of Noah, disappointed at what He had made.

We see Him after the flood, too.

With Noah, certainly.

And then, importantly, with Abram calling him out of Ur to the promised land, to be blessed to be a blessing.

God’s power and presence has always been at work and is always at work in the work in the universe and on this good earth.

And it is combined with the divine surprising quality of seeking relationship.

Again, in the garden with Adam and Eve.

And, Cain and Seth.

Noah.

Abram.

Those qualities of having power and being present and seeking relationship are part of the story line of the Bible.

And we see some other things at work in these early chapters.

God’s love and mercy and grace are on stunning display.

Out of that love and mercy and grace, God made us in his image, placed us in a good creation and, as we will note in our communion prayer shortly, remains true to us even when we turn away from him.

We see these qualities of love, mercy and grace God throughout the Bible.

And you and I see them in our lives as well.

It is God who gives us life.

And breathing lungs.

Beating hearts.

The gifts of sight and hearing and taste and touch and smell.

He shows us further grace in the daily blessings of life—food, shelter, clothing, clean water.

And, the beauty of a cardinal flying in the dead of winter and the enjoyment of a cool cup of water on the hottest summer days.

And we believe that this is a God who came to earth. . . who reaches out to us . . . who calls us to Him. . . who urges us to join Him on the path to eternal life . . . and who even yearns for us to live out of our best selves.

Brothers and sisters in the faith, you good people with whom I share the journey, God gives us much and wants much more for each of us.

May we praise his name, live in awe of His grandeur and help build his kingdom.

And may we commit this year to Him.

Amen.

Is Anything Too Wonderful for God?

This is my sermon for last week. I love preaching from Genesis because it shows God involved in the nitty-gritty of life and does not avoid dealing with the flaws and sins of its protagonists. These particular verses also speak to my two small congregations because almost all us are over 60 and well-acquainted with disappointment.

Genesis 18: 1-15; 21:1-7
“Is Anything Too Wonderful for God?”

Our faith can slip away from us at any age, but surely the challenges of aging are among the most daunting of threats.

This is especially so if we are forced to look hard at or to go through the experience of caring for someone ravaged by Alzheimer’s, some other form of dementia or by the many other physical or mental maladies that can arise.

At those times, caregivers, loved ones and, of course, those afflicted by the illness, can almost feel their spirits weaken and, at times, their faith ebb.

Before we look at these verses about the two old codgers Abraham and Sarah, we might first consider the life of one of the most unique seniors I have seen.

hawkinsmain

Julia Hawkins, 101 year old sprinter

This week, the Washington Post told the story of Julia Hawkins, who lives down in Baton Rouge, La.

It begins by explaining that Ms. Hawkins is a specialist in running sprints and is in training for competition in the 50 meter dash.

And then it informs us that Ms. Hawkins is 101 years old, and that she just started running last year.

She runs the 50 meters in just over 19 seconds, which oddly enough is about the time it takes me to get from my recliner to the refrigerator.

But, friends, the story of Ms. Hawkins is one that tells us to never lose hope at any age over anything.

Unfortunately, most of us do.

Let’s pray.

Startle us, O God, with your truth and power and grant us the gift of your life-giving presence. As we hear your word read and proclaimed, we pray that you touch our hearts with your grace; strengthen our spirits with your love; and, deepen our faith with your word. We pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah nearly that old when the Lord visited them that day.

God was bringing them a message: they would be blessed with the birth of a child.

I’m 64 and Maurie’s 57.

She might be happy if God gave us that news, but I would tell him, “Lord, no. Please no. Why are you punishing me? What have I done?”

But when Abraham and Sarah were at the age they should be moving into a nursing home and not buying a crib, God told them to get ready for a child.

Surprisingly, at least to me, they wanted a child.

We need to put God’s promise that day in perspective to appreciate what Abraham and Sarah felt at the birth announcement.

You see, God had promised a child to Abraham and Sarah well before that day.

As a matter-of-fact, God had first made the promise 25 years earlier.

Indeed, if you pull out your bible and read Genesis 17, right before our verses begin for today, God appeared to Abraham and made the promise again.

Let’s look at a little background to that day. At that time, and for the first 100 years of his life, the man we know as Abraham was named and called Abram.

But, in Chapter 17, God came to Abram and told him that his life was about to change.

First, he told Abram that he would have a new name, Abraham, which means “father of many nations.”

Second, God told the newly-named Abraham that his wife Sarai would also have a new name.

God said that Sarai would henceforth be known as Sarah, because she would be mother of many nations.

Third, God said, “And, Abraham, you need to get a baby room ready because Sarah will soon bear a son.”

When he heard that news, Abraham could not believe it.

He thought it was a knee-slapper of a joke.

Genesis 17:17 says that he fell facedown and started laughing.

He thought to himself, “Good grief, Lord, I’m 100 and Sarah about as old as I am. That ain’t gonna happen. We are too old.”

God said, “Oh, it is going to happen and you need to name your son Isaac.”

Abraham and the AngelsRembrandt, 1630

“Abraham and the Angels” Rembrandt, c. 1630 (Sarah is visible in the left foreground)

After a bit of time passed, a few days or weeks or months, the Bible is not clear, who should come pay the two old geezers a visit but the Lord and two unnamed men.

Abraham was thrilled to see them.

He was sitting at the entrance to his tent when the three appeared.

When he saw them, he ran over, greeted them, and asked them to rest under the tree while he got them some food and water.

They rested under the big oaks while Abraham ran to his tent and told Sarah to start whipping up some bread.

He told her to do it with 36 lbs. of flour.

Sarah probably went with a bit less.

Then he went outside and ordered a servant to prepare a calf.

He returned to God and the two others with a feast.

The visitors chowed down.

It was then that one of the men told him, “I’ll be back next year and by then Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was old, but not hard of hearing.

She was listening in to the conversation, kind of like a FBI wiretap except in person.

She heard the news of her having a son and she laughed and thought to herself, “After I am worn out and my husband old, will I now have this pleasure.”

I read that word “pleasure” in verse 12 and thought “Pleasure? You’re 99! You already have your share of aches and pains.

But, friends, you might know how she felt because maybe something like what happened to her has happened to you.

Have you ever wanted something your whole life and never gotten it?

Think about that.

Is there something you always wanted to do but never did?

Or was there something you yearned for and, as the years passed, it just seemed it would never be and finally your dream just went into the place where we stuff things we want to ignore.

I have, but it was not to be.

Father’s Day is a bittersweet day for me.

The children who I talk about, they are not mine.

They are Maurie’s.

I love them and claim them as my own, but I never had any children.

So, in the back of my mind, there is something missing in my life, something I wanted to do but never did and someone whom I wanted to be but never was, a father.

Sarah was like that.

She had wanted a child, but had never had one.

It was worse for Sarah, though, because back in those days, a woman was supposed to have children.

A woman’s worth was based on having children.

People believed that a woman without a child was . . . less.

Not quite as good.

Sarah carried that burden of shame with her for months and weeks and years and decades.

Oh, how she had wanted a child and especially a son, a son surely for Abraham, someone to carry on the family name and the family traditions.

Worse, she had been remembering God’s promises for 25 years.

You can imagine her praying, “When, God, when?” until she could pray no more and hope no more and finally tucked her dream and desire into that compartment in her mind.

So that day, when she heard the man talking about her having a child, she laughed.

There are different types of laughs.

There are belly laughs, that happen when something strikes you as hilarious and the laughter erupts and starts down your belly and flows out of you.

There are chuckles at small jokes or things that happen during the day.

There are giggles like small children might have when they have put one over on mom or dad.

I think Sarah’s laugh was more like a snort, a “no way, no how,” sarcastic kind of laugh.

Like, “Hah, no way.”

And, with that snort, Sarah also showed her doubt about God.

God had promised. God had failed. Now, she was too old. So, “Hah, no way.”

When God heard that laugh, he turned to Abraham, apparently kind of surprised.

God said, “Why did she laugh? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

Then he said, “I will return to you next year and she will have a son.”

Remember now that first Abraham laughed at God’s promise.

Then, Sarah laughed, too.

Both had given up on God and doubted God and lost any hope that had that the promised would be fulfilled.

Of course, all of us are like Sarah and all of us are Abraham.

We’ve lived with pain, barrenness, bitterness.

Who among us, at our age, has not felt crushing loss or devastating disappointment?

Like them, we wonder if God heard our prayers, or if he will answer them or maybe, it enough time has passed for us, we have given up and locked into that compartment.

So, we forget about it ever happening or ever receiving an answer.

In such cases, maybe a little chink is knocked off our faith.

But, Abraham and Sarah still had faith or at least kept some form of faith alive.

Clearly, they still believed in God and were surely in direct relationship that day.

You note that twice in these verses, Abraham called himself God’s “servant.”

Note, too, that God didn’t punish any doubt that they had.

You see, for Sarah and Abraham, the unbelievable happened.

Sarah had a child. God’s promise had come true.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a story of two people, parents of us all, moving from hopelessness to hope and from hope to fulfillment.

But, there is something in these events for us.

Friends, however down or doubtful you may get about God, hold on to your faith and to your hope.

Understand, it is a mistake to base our faith in God upon fulfillment of our desires, dreams, wants or prayers.

Instead, we need to keep our faith in God open to the amazing and surprising grace of God, a grace that can come to us in the most unexpected of ways.

And, we need to keep remain aware of the daily graces of God that we that we take for granted.

Even the beating of your heart and the breathing of your lungs are signs of that grace, as are your food, shelter, clothing, health and the rising of the sun and breezes in the air.

Our faith in God’s grace, surprising and daily and constant, needs to wrap itself around our doubt and disappointments and say that it is okay and God is still with us.

And remember that our God is full of power and surprises.

God raises the dead.

God brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt.

God broke the back of slavery here and when hate and prejudice persisted, ended the laws of segregation and separation and is calling is people to join him in showing the miracles of love in the midst of the hate that swirls around us.

God won’t do everything we ask and hope for.

But God will be God and God will do God’s will and what a wonderful, grace-filled will it is.

Even in the ups and downs and fears and regrets and disappointments and devastations of life.

Is anything to wonderful for God?

No. Nothing.

May we all hold on to that kind of faith.

Amen.

Damn the Poor!?!

Trumpcare and the administration’s budget submission propose slashing the social safety net by about $1.7 trillion over the next ten years.

Most of the savings would be stuffed into already bulging pockets of the well-to-do, the top 1% or 2% of income earners.

Meanwhile, the cuts would not only target the poor, but more particularly those who are children, disabled, sick or hungry.

These proposals show the lie that were Trump’s campaign contentions not to cut Medicaid.

You can find articles on the impact of these cuts here, here and here. Here is a rather sad article on the rationale behind the cuts and how a Russian news reporter schooled Trump’s budget director on some aspects of it.

Christians who support this war on the poor don’t even have a fig leaf to wear in justifying these actions.

If you believe scripture, while we may not like it or understand it, God wants fairness and justice for the poor.

Bible verses attesting to God’s concern for the poor:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22

“Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land . . . buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat. The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4; 6-7

“Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” Matthew 19:21

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35

“They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18

“So he replied to the messengers, “‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'” Luke 7:22

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33

If Trump’s budget and healthcare proposals are enacted, tens of millions of Americans will be worse off than they are today.

According to the latest Census figures, about 45 million Americans live in poverty and over 16 million of those are children.

According to the same figures, about 30 million Americans live just above the poverty line and, again, about one-third of these are children.

Some, such as Franklin Graham say in earnestness, and with faith and hope, that Trump is sent by God.

If that is true, my thought is that if these proposals are to be believed, God sent him not as a blessing but as a curse.

 

An American Mean Streak

Many Americans are proud of our individual freedoms and acclaimed generosity.

However true these qualities may be, our continuing struggles with racism, nativism and xenophobia indicate we still struggle how far those freedoms and generosity extend.

Indeed, racism, nativism and xenophobia are on ample and sometimes heart-breaking display in the Trump administration’s enforcement of immigration laws. Some of those actions are hard-hearted.

Last month, a mother of four was ripped from her family and deported to Mexico. Maribel Trujillo Diaz had lived in Fairfield, Ohio for the post several years. A native of Mexico, she is the mother of four children, ranging in age from three to fourteen, including one with special needs.

Interviewed earlier this year,  Trujillo said that she crossed the border in 2002 to flee threats from a drug cartel and “find a better way of life.” She has been living here since then, and has had work permit for the last several years. That permit was due to expire in July.

That made no difference to ICE, which arrested her in early April, irrespective of the work permit, her job and a clean criminal record. After her arrest, a trio of high-placed Ohio officials, Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rob Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown asked ICE to reconsider their decision to deport her.

ICE declined and proceeded with its action. Trujillo has now been “removed” from the country and become another statistic, while her children apparently remain motherless in Ohio.

Two articles covering her deportation are here and here.

It was reported this week that immigration arrests increased 38% over the first 3 months of 2017 compared to the same period last year. The Administration contends that its policies have emphasize the deportation of criminals. An article on that is here.

That is false as ICE “criminal” figures include anyone charged with an offense. Moreover, one of offenses included within the figures is being in this country without proper documentation. In other words, the government includes arrests of suspected immigrants without papers in its statistics. These things obscure the truth.HOew

There are now scores of reports like the one about Ms. Trujillo.

It is true that Trump’s deportation policies are working as he intended. Their consequences include arresting mothers at home in front of their minor children, ripping families apart, ridding the country of the “menace” of high school valedictorians without proper papers who hope to attend college here; and, hauling away people recognized as pillars of their community.

This is a national shame.

I say this because of personal and religious views.

My mom’s lineage is pure Anglo-Saxon and rather well-to-do. It is family lore that her father’s line in America began when a forebear was sent by England’s king sometime in the early 1700’s to serve as a royal official in the Carolinas. After that, the family became prosperous farmers, well, to be honest, plantation owners in South Carolina. We don’t like to talk too much about that odious slave-owning history.

Instead, I consider with some pride that I am from my father’s line of Scotch-Irish-English mutts.

We have no idea when that line began in the United States, although my theory is that a an ancestor was on the lam from the law in England and stowed away on an American-bound ship to get a second chance at life. There is something mutt-like, populist and hopeful in seeking to improve one’s life through radical risk and hard-work.

I view most immigrants out of this lens. My interactions with undocumented immigrants have been consistent with this. To a man and to a woman, they have been friendly, hard-working, humble and hopeful.

My Christianity also reinforces my inclinations toward sympathy and understanding.

There are some Bible verses to the contrary, but the heavy weight of both testaments emphasizes just, fair and even generous treatment of the foreigner, stranger and alien.

This is easily seen with even a casual reading of the Bible or the simple consideration that, in their own ways, Jesus and the early evangelists were at one time or another “foreigners, aliens or strangers.”

I deplore the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented workers. It has led not only to the deportation of so-called dreamers, but split families, swept up innocents and weakened local law enforcement.

You will find several hits on these items if you google “deportation of mother,” or “deportation of dreamer,” or “sanctuary cities.”