1 whenever I would heal Israel,
the sins of Ephraim are exposed
and the crimes of Samaria revealed.
They practice deceit,
thieves break into houses,
bandits rob in the streets;
2 but they do not realize
that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them;
they are always before me.
3 “They delight the king with their wickedness,
the princes with their lies.
4 They are all adulterers,
burning like an oven
whose fire the baker need not stir
from the kneading of the dough till it rises.
5 On the day of the festival of our king
the princes become inflamed with wine,
and he joins hands with the mockers.
6 Their hearts are like an oven;
they approach him with intrigue.
Their passion smolders all night;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
7 All of them are hot as an oven;
they devour their rulers.
All their kings fall,
and none of them calls on me.
8 “Ephraim mixes with the nations;
Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over.
9 Foreigners sap his strength,
but he does not realize it.
His hair is sprinkled with gray,
but he does not notice.
10 Israel’s arrogance testifies against him,
but despite all this
he does not return to the Lord his God
or search for him.
11 “Ephraim is like a dove,
easily deceived and senseless—
now calling to Egypt,
now turning to Assyria.
12 When they go, I will throw my net over them;
I will pull them down like the birds in the sky.
When I hear them flocking together,
I will catch them.
13 Woe to them,
because they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them,
because they have rebelled against me!
I long to redeem them
but they speak about me falsely.
14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts
but wail on their beds.
They slash themselves, appealing to their gods
for grain and new wine,
but they turn away from me.
15 I trained them and strengthened their arms,
but they plot evil against me.
16 They do not turn to the Most High;
they are like a faulty bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword
because of their insolent words.
For this they will be ridiculed
in the land of Egypt.
I missed recognizing the start of Advent and the first anniversary of this blog. As often happens, life got in the way: we didn’t finish with poultry processing until the first week of December (several weeks longer than usual), and I had a (not so) merry-go-round of illness run through the kiddos.
I forgave myself a while ago for times I cannot post as regularly as I’d like to. What I cannot forgive myself for though is the fact that children are still in cages at our border. I know it is not personally my fault, but my very first blog post, now a little over a year ago, was on welcoming refugees. I made a small donation, called my representatives once, but I must admit I have done nothing significant since. And a year of silence while so many suffer is truly unconscionable.
God has put the fate of these refugee children before me several times in recent days. Let’s start with today’s scripture: “Ephraim mixes with the nations,” reads v. eight, “Foreigners sap his strength,” reads v. nine. I worry that all of vv. 8-13 could be taken as Biblical reasoning for cruelty towards immigrants. On top of that, the pictures of the Guatemalan boy who lay dead on the floor for hours in ICE custody before being found earlier this year have been circulating in my newsfeed lately. Finally, the nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church in California, which shows baby Jesus and his parents as refugees in separate cages, went viral a few days ago.
If we celebrate Christmas but forget our Christian duty of mercy, then we are no better than those who Hosea accuses of gathering together for grain and new wine while turning away from God. Christmas is a season for celebration, and I don’t want to take away your joy: go to your Christmas parties, exchange gifts with your family and friends, but don’t forget the reason we are celebrating, either. Jesus was made man to save us from our sins, to bring us a message of love for all. And what have we done with that message of late? Our kings and princes (aka, our president and congress) are delighted with wickedness and lies. They – and we, with them – turn a blind eye (at best) or willfully forget those less fortunate, including the families and children in detention for No. Damn. Reason.
It is also a busy time of year, but once again, I encourage you to take a little time to call your representatives and ask them to change border policies and close the detention centers down. I ask you to consider giving to organizations like the IRC, ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, KIND, RAICES, or Save the Children, among others who are actively fighting for the children detained. Additionally, it is important to record and report any interaction you may have with immigration officials, so the agency can be held accountable. Attend marches and protests in your area, and simply don’t stop talking about it. There’s a more comprehensive list of twenty ways to help refugees at the border here. And yes, I donated (to the RAICES Texas Bond Fund) and called my representatives (Wittman, Warner, and Kaine) yesterday afternoon. I will continue to let you know what actions I have taken – not to brag, but to hold myself accountable. I hope you will consider doing the same. Christmas is a time for families to be together, not separated in cages. Please, join in the fight to help make it so.