A Lament for the Displaced

See the mother as she’s running, tiny baby in her arms,

Fleeing from the soldiers and their tanks and guns and bombs… 

She’s exhausted, cold and desperate, her children hungry, full of fear –

How can she know You love her-that You walk beside here there?

Her enemies surround them. Her city’s being burned,

The bombs fell on the church as well… So many have been killed.

Their food and homes are taken because the government wills

To destroy them as a people and make them disappear.

God of justice, are you hiding? Can you hear these people cry?

Where is Your wrath and anger as the bombs fall from the sky?

Are You sleeping or on a journey? (This mother waits to hear.)

Help us welcome You and her family if injustice brings them here.

In her, I see You hungry, 

Clothe her children, we’re clothing you.

Her husband is a warrior 

Fighting evil to bring rescue

Protestors go to prison

Please God, hear their cry

Let them know they’re not alone

Let Your people cry with them…

Lord, forgive us for our silence as dictators scheme and bomb

Forgive us for our silence as the weak are crushed by the strong.

Let us cry out against this evil, loud enough so that you hear, 

Help us quit arguing with each other

About what doesn’t matter, making ourselves important

As you stand and wait….

As hungry, displaced, frightened people

Seek help….we argue about laws and who is worthy

You are the truth – banish our lies

You are the light-drive out our darkness

You are the way. Help us! We are lost!

We ask for your mercy, which we don’t deserve.

Help us stand with those who need to know You are near.


Jesus Is A Refugee (poem) reposted

See the  mother on the journey, tiny baby in her arms,
Running from the soldiers who’ve come to rape and kill
She’s tired from the running, desperate, hungry, full of fear—
How can she know God loves her, and that He walks beside her there?

He is there beside her in the dark and in the cold.
He knows what she is feeling, in the Bible it is told
That He was once a refugee. His parents ran to save His life
From the soldiers sent to kill him in Herod’s infanticide.

The way that God has chosen to loose the bands of wickedness
To give bread to the hungry and to help free the oppressed
Calls us to walk beside her in our prayers and in our hearts:
As the body of Christ, the servant king, it makes her burden ours.

But words and prayers are not enough, no matter how well spoken
God’s love requires our presence so He can walk beside His children.
Even though we’re broken, we are His feet and hands.
We stand in need of grace to obey His commands.

Though she sits in darkness, He came to be the light.
Though she now is hungry, He is the bread of life.
Though we turn aside sometimes or don’t know what to do,
We are all called in some way to help her make it through.

He chose to entrust us with His reputation
And to make us His body throughout every nation
As a king become baby, He risked everything
Calling us to embody the love that He brings….

I was hungry and you gave me bread
Thirsty and you gave me drink
A stranger and you took me in
In prison and you came to me….”
Lord, when did this happen?
His answer is quite clear
“When you did it for the least of these
It was for me, for I am there….

Teresa Norman March 2001


The Fear of the “Other”

Thosepeople are different than us….”, my usually reasonable co-worker said this morning.  She was trying to explain to me why immigration and immigrants and all those “other” people make her mad coming into “our” country.  (Not sure which country her ancestors immigrated from-mine were German, Norwegian and Swedish).  It was hard not to get mad.  But we were at work, so there wasn’t enough time for a full-blown rebuttal of “why so many of my friends and the people I respect are refugees or immigrants” and why I believe our country is enriched by what they bring or that those of us who are not Native American need to walk a bit softly and with humility on this one.  She knows how much we love our “adopted” Burmese granddaughters so, she just wanted to tell me that the Somali refugees next to her house were blocking the driveway with their car and she thought they should be deported. Oh, and, that we let too many of those “other” people into this country!

I’m sorry her neighbors had bad manners, or maybe didn’t have her understanding of property rights.  But stereotyping everyone from every region (except of course, white North Americans who forgot that they too immigrated) is a really bad idea!

Refugees go through a stringent screening process to get here.  Article 1 of the Geneva Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol provides the definition of a refugee:

“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it..”[3]

Taking a deep breath, saying a pray for those, like my friend, who do not understand the value of diversity, the necessity of compassion, or the richness and beauty to be gained by learning from what each person created in the image of God has to offer.