Hearing the news from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the fact the young man killed his, mother, and so many children and teachers is heart breaking. My prayers are many even when the words are simple.
I pray for each family who lost their child…each family who is afraid…each one who witnessed such horrible events…those uncertain and grieving.
Watching President Obama express his grief and resolve reminds us of our vulnerability and the call to respond with passion and wisdom.
I know every day, children are in danger, and today we are stunned into reality. Yes, we need to seriously discuss what it means to harbor the emotion that leads to murder. We all need to seriously discuss how to create a community that includes each member, even those who are different among us. All of us need to discuss why we have the types of guns and permissions which currently guide a deadly norm within society.
It is my prayer that we all are stirred to our core so these children do not pass away from this life without us all being truly affected to create real change…as our President said, from Newtonwn, CT to the street corners of Chicago.
If you are looking for a New Year’s Resolution that truly builds the world we long for, then begin at home and address the emotional needs of those we know and love. Then let all of the public representatives know how you feel about creating a safe place to life, learn, work, and worship. This is about the very basic message Jesus spoke, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is our turn to not let these children, teachers, or the gunman to die in vain. Let it be the beginning of a better life for us all.
GLBT rights are a short and fragile history. It was not so long ago that our actions were illegal. Men and some women were regularly arrested for being in bars, or the backseat of cars and bath houses with someone of the same gender. Today, that is shocking for some to hear, but for many, the risk of being caught came with harassment, violence, imprisionment and more.
We are right to celebrate during pride. In the United States, we have already marked the end of our status as illegal. Many in small towns are unable to celebrate – they remain in hiding.
As GLBTQ persons….we need to know the basic facts about life in the US: some people do not want to be identified according to their immigration status. This deeply affects a person’s ability to connect with a community of faith or express gender and identity!
Today, many GLBTQ immigrants may be undocumented and in hiding. Can we, who were formerally considered law breakers, be compassionate? The bigger question is: Can we stand with those who are undocumented?
To speak about immigrants, especially Spanish speaking persons, in this time and age is a hot button topic. Yet, while so many are celebrating, it is time to look around.
Let me make this a little more real and local. In Illinois the largest minority according to the 2010 census are Hispanic. These are people who responded to a census report and chose to be documented in an official government count of persons! Look at the numbers of self-identified Hispanic persons: Cook County – 24%, Lake county, IL, 20%, Will County, 15.6%. I broke out a calculator, because math is not my strong suite – but here we go – over 5 million people live in Cook County, and 24% is about 1.2 million people. Remember potentially tens of thousands, if not more, from Spanish speaking areas remain undocumented.
Let’s say that 10% of people are GLBTQ – just for fun – not as a fact. Then over 100,000 people just like many of us, plus most likely many more beyond our imagination due to lack of documentation.
GLBTQ undocuments persons face a more dangerous situation because one of the current criteria for immigration includes an official assessment of a person’s “ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships.” Imagine, not being able to prove you are in a relationship because you are undocumented and afraid to walk down to the county courthouse for a civil union or marriage. Then if there is no, or little, family support, or a sponsor to assist you toward citizenship or amnesty, deportation is likely.
This year, thousands are being deported from the Chicago area. Many more are hiding. Hiding because of citizenship status – hiding because of orientation or gender – hiding from their own and others.
Over a century ago, WEB Dubois described the “tragedy of our age”:
not that [humans] are poor, — all know something of poverty;
not that [humans] are wicked, — who is good?
not that [humans] are ignorant, — what is Truth?
Nay, the fundamental problem remains:
That [humans] know so little of [humanity].
As I ponder the spirit of this decade, I hear this phrase – “show me your papers.” The demand made upon the poor, assumed to be criminals and ignorant because of language or cultural difference sounds more like the beginning of the 20th century, not the 21st.
Can you prove you belong in society? Can you declare you are not illegal? Do you hold up a Civil Union certificate or marriage licence?
If any group of people are up to the task to speak up for those in hiding, it is GLBTQ folks living in the safety of a liberated space Chicago provides.
Some of us know what it is like to be liberated. We have discovered a space where the divine enters, where justice and our bodies meet – a crossroad unlike any other. For some it is a hot, barren, dry desert. For others it is like treading water in fear of drowning. Yet the struggle is familiar.
The US is way behind the call for human rights – basic respect and dignity. GLBTQ folks know this well. Our undocumented family does too.
The debate is intense. I am very aware many of us become overwhelmed by this information and zone out. Yet, I ask you to deeply consider the fact that not so long ago, many of us were criminals according to the laws of the land. How can each of us begin the change to assist those who wish to move beyond their hiding?
I want us to explore this together. What can we as a community of faith do? Not as a token, but really do to provide hope and liberation for those hiding in fear? Pray about it. Ask others.
Small steps have been taken with Spanish speaking bible studies on homosexuality and the Christian tradition, along with conversations and social events. Yet, our broader family is struggling.
I ask you, with the same passion that you can proclaim your status as GLBTQ, step up and validate someone’s right to be living among us. Let us create a space of liberation for the undocumented among us. Let the liberated show the way!
I leave you with a passage from the book of Hebrews as a guide for the Dreams of Freedom:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Watch these YouTube videos for personal testimonials of GLBTQ persons in the US and those seeking to be with loved ones:
Also see an immigration process chart below.
Keep dreaming and watch what happens!
Donate, volunteer, spread the word, and help your neighbor!
aChurch4Me MCC upholds 7 values, which we work to live out within ourselves and one another. Faith in Action is one of those values: to actively listen and respond to what God is calling us to do and to be to make our lives, our city and the world more just and loving. One path to create a more just and loving world is to see those around us in need.
Sometimes seeing the need is overwhelming and it can be hard to know where to begin. As a community of faith, we were led to The Night Ministry as a partner to put our Faith in Action. The Night Ministry compassionately provides housing, health care, outreach, spiritual care, and social services to adults and youth who struggle with homelessness, poverty and loneliness. May GLBT and straight teenagers and young adults rely upon the food, shelter, clothing, supplies, education, and support The Night Ministry offers daily. Now and through May, aChurch4Me MCC is stepping up in two ways to assist The Night Ministry: Donations and Volunteering. Please carefully review the information below and prayerfully step forward with donations of items or time as you are able.
Donate Items: Youth, young mothers, and adults
Now through Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13 Boxes for donations are in the back of the church. Please bring one or more of the following items for the Night Ministry:
- Disposable diapers: in sizes 4 & 5
- Socks: packs of new, white cotton socks in adult sizes ONLY. Tube socks preferred.
- Gift cards: $5 Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks, $10 Jewel/Walgreens/CVS, $25 Kmart/Target
- CTA one day pass
- Crochet hooks and yarn
(Donations will be given directly to Night Ministry for distribution.)
Volunteer: The Crib Help bring nourishment to the young people who stay in the shelter called: The Crib! aChurch4Me MCC will be providing breakfast on Saturday May 19, 2012 from 7am to 9am. We will need four volunteers for the serving however for the prep work we will need much more help. The breakfast prep crew will prepare enough food for 25-30 people.
For more information about The Night Ministry visit their website. Nilsa will be available to answer questionsand have sign-up sheets before and after worship at the “Faith in Action” table.