The Responsibility of Faith

Please consider joining us for an Information Session about the England Trip. We are collecting names of those who are seriously interested in the trip. We will be opening this trip up to other churches on the Cape in January, but you have the first chance to get a spot. Join me in the Library at 11:30 on Sunday Dec. 2.

Last Sunday we learned that government agents who represent us on the border of Mexico and the United States lobbed tear gas at people who were seeking asylum. The pictures on the news media showed mothers with small children who were fleeing, some kids in diapers. People were crying, kids were screaming, one mother reported in the Wall Street Journal that her infant fainted in the ensuing melee.

Most of us don’t keep up on the rules about the use of tear gas. It is legal for riot police and federal authorities who need to disperse a crowd, but tear gas is a chemical weapon, and, as such, banned in warfare for used on battlefields by every nation on earth, including the US.

When young troops are being trained many are put into test situations where they are sprayed with tear gas, so they know what the experience is like. Most gag uncontrollably and their uniforms are covered with snot as they struggle to breath and relieve the agony in their sinuses. Many vomit. It is a lesson in chemical warfare from boot camp they don’t soon forget.

But this week the government agents on the border used tear gas on families with small kids. No one knows what the effects will be for children because we have so little experience with children who have been gassed, according to Anthony Chordesman, a biological and chemical weapons expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. For adults the effects usually subside in an hour or so but children take us to a new territory. You can read more about this in the Washington post article “Why tear gas lobbed at migrants on the southern border, is banned in warfare. “

As you know I have been a minister for many years now. Most clergy serving churches in the Massachusetts Conference of our United Church of Christ are aware of the separation of church and state. But we are also aware of the responsibility to raise issues that are not so much partisan but are moral concerns. Often that balance is hard to find in our complex world. Many questions can be interpreted either way. Long ago people saw racism as a political issue but now we see it as a moral one. People in some parts of the country are still debating whether homophobia is a partisan issue or a moral one. But our church has made a decision that we want to welcome all people.

But these days the immigration debate is challenging us again to consider what we should do as people of faith. I believe that how we treat children is a moral question more than partisan one. As a society we have a responsibility to care for children, even those on the border. I believe that how we treat the sojourner at our gates is a moral question not a partisan one. Jesus and all the prophets talk about hospitality for strangers. It is a Biblical theme in the Old and New Testaments. So when we hear the news that women and children seeking asylum have been tear gassed I think that people of faith need to become more informed, and raise questions. I believe we need to discuss these events from the perspective of our faith. I invite your comments, your responses and your ideas.


Rev. Susan

A Sermon Series about Dreams for Peace

Dec. 2 Luke 1: 68-79 “Dreams of Peace” Zechariah

Dec. 9 Zephaniah 3: 14-20 “Dreams of Justice”

Dec. 16 Christmas Pageant Children’s Choir will sing.

Dec. 23 Micah 5:2-5 “Dreams of a Messiah”

Dec 24 - 4 p.m. Family Service; 8 p.m. Traditional Candlelight Lessons and Carols Service

Dec. 30 Luke 2:41-52 “Jesus at the Temple: Looking to the Future"

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