Suffer the Little Children

For the last two Sundays we’ve been discussing Genesis 22. A troubling text, this story about God calling Abraham to go and sacrifice Isaac, the child of the promise, as a so-called test of the old man’s faith.

The story won’t let me go. I’ve been thinking about how children still tremble under the sacrificial knife, how we offer up their well-being on the altars of materialism, greed, political ambition, selfishness, and societal expectation. I’ve been thinking about all those children here, in the richest country in the world, living in homelessness and hunger and crushing poverty. I’ve been thinking about all those children whose parents are being deported under our heartless immigration laws.

And then this morning, in a moment of serendipity, my friend and colleague Maren Tirabassi sent me this poem from her blog, Gifts in Open Hands.

I was touched. And I think you will be, too.

Mark 10:13-16 for the United States

Little children were coming
from the triangle of Guatemala,
El Salvador, Honduras –
many with only
their birth certificates

and there were authorities
and politicians
who wanted to turn away this “surge,”
saying maybe these children
have measles or lice.

But Jesus was indignant with them
and said,
“Let the children come
for it is by the welcome to these
that anyone can identify
what is the country of God.

“Truly, I tell you
whoever sends militia
to close the border or stop a bus
against one such child
will receive no visa
to the country of God.”

And Jesus took them up
into his arms,
in spite of drug cartels,
nativists, ICE,
and laid his hands on them
and blessed them.

Do you question my translation?
I forgot
the traditional word.
They do – suffer, the little children.

–Maren Tirabassi
July 9, 2014

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