faith

 

CHRISTIANS MUST ALWAYS NOURISH in their hearts the fullness of joy. Try to do that, sisters and brothers. I have tried it many times, and in the most bitter situations, when slander and persecution are at their worst, I have united myself intimately with Christ as my friend, and I have tasted a sweetness that all the joys of earth cannot give. It is the joy of God’s intimacy, the profoundest joy the heart can experience, even when people don’t understand you.

Romero, Oscar. The Scandal of Redemption (Plough Spiritual Guides: Backpack Classics) (p. 35). Plough Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith— being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire— may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 87282-87287). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno is a friend of mine and a worshiper at the church I attend; he has lived there in sanctuary since January.  If you haven’t heard about him yet, you probably will on a news broadcast before the week is out.

I was one of the many who accompanied him to the US Immigration Office and who witnessed his entrapment and detainment by plain-clothed ICE officers who posed as customers until he signed in. I was one of the many who stood in front of the minivan to prevent ICE from conveniently disappearing with him. I witnessed the screams, the disbelief, the pleading for mercy, the betrayal, the terror. I witnessed the peaceful, prayerful, gracious-but-firm resistance. I witnessed my friends getting arrested. I witnessed Samuel finally being driven away: from his wife, his son, his friends, his church, his life.

I feel anguish, anguish that is probably going to last a long time. I won’t drag you through every bit of it, but it isn’t honest for me to post today as if nothing was different from last week. Life will never be the same for me and for the others who witnessed what I did. I imagine I will process some of it here with you over the coming weeks. For now, though, I’m writing to Samuel as a member of the living sanctuary that still surrounds him in our love and prayers for him and his family. I invite you to join that living sanctuary.

Samuel,

As I imagine you in the detention center right now, I love you and I pray that you are experiencing God’s grace and mercy even in that harsh, cold place. When I eat, I hope and pray that you are being fed. When I am with friends and family, I hope and pray that some of those around you are showing you care and loving-kindness. When I sing (and I need to tell you that this morning we sang the song you taught us), I hope and pray God is putting a song in your heart and on your lips.

I know your faith is strong, stronger than the chains and bars that detain you. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Your quiet, gentle witness is now booming out on social media and news programs around the world. The love of Jesus in you, I believe, is going to help “change the prevailing winds” in our national conversation about who we are and what we stand for.

Samuel, I would find comfort sitting by you right now; I know I would. That is how strong you are and how much you mean to us. You are Jesus’ beloved brother and God’s beloved child; that is who you are.

Grace and peace to you…

dw