Returning home from our mission in Nicaragua, I was greeted by a wailing, distress cry of “Mama!!” at the airport. The little girl was maybe three years old. “Mama…,” she screamed. “Mama…,” she cried flinging her little arms open wide in the stroller. “Mama!”

   Her Mama and family members stood at the gate, trying to send her off with love and smiles. She was clearly with people who loved her, trying to calm and sooth her in her distress. Her screams, however, became louder and more shrill as she was being wheeled away from her Mama through the airport security gate. This little girl’s heart was clearly broken.

   The trauma of this child stayed with me through most of my trip home. I couldn’t help but think of the thousands of little children separated at the border from their families during the past few years. A recent report said up to seventy thousand children have been taken away from their families. Seventy thousand children, with broken hearts all calling out “Mama.”  Seventy thousand children – “the least of these.”

    And God says… “Just as you did it to one of the least of these…members of my family…you did it to me.”

These children are hungry…and we put them in a cage. These children need beds and toothpaste…we put our mats on the floor and say it cost to much to get them dental care. These children are strangers…yet we do not welcome them with open arms and radical hospitality. We have imprisoned them…many are sick…and some are dying of illness and broken hearts.

    My heart hurts when I think of these children and I feel helpless witnessing the governmental systems that have allowed these seventy thousand separation to happen and continue to happen. We will be witnessing the ramifications of these separation policies for years to come. Spiritually, there will be a reckoning, These children “the least of these” are of God’s family. What we do to them, we do to God.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let us know forget the “least of these,” these many thousands of children separated and mourning the loss of their families this Christmas. May God bless this meditation.

A prayer:

Gracious God, we remember the “least of these” this joyful season of celebrating the birth of your son. We confess that we are helpless in the face of this criminal injustice, and we carry the pain of that witness within us. We pray and hope for a future where these sins can be repaired, families united, and the systems that created this mess can be dismantled. In your blessed name, we pray, oh God, that we see a release of these children back to the families they call out for. For the least of these, we pray. Amen.

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