Immigration has been a difficult issue since humanity began. The Bible addresses immigration from numerous points of concern as early as Genesis. Even though most agree that the book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible, Genesis actually addresses the creation stories. Claims to land and/or people, culture is the point of contention in many of our Biblical stories as well as issues of today. My point being, we humans have had issues about “us” vs “them”, “ours” and “not yours” as far back as we know. And YES, we, the United States must fix our horribly flawed immigration system. However, none of that is the issue when we are talking about “Keeping Families Together”.
Let us not confuse the real issue with finger pointing, name calling, political rhetoric, or any other pet issue. What we are really talking about is way too important to diffuse our focus. We are talking about the unnecessary removal of immigrant children from their caretakers/parents when arriving at the US border.” Are the US immigration laws/system in terrible disarray? Absolutely, but one thing we know is that unnecessarily separating children from their parents at the border is inexcusable regardless if the families are presented as legally trying to cross the border or illegally. Children are innocents and must always be protected.
“It may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also,” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a 1966 speech at Southern Methodist University.
We can and must work together to protect children. Stripping children from their families is a terribly traumatic experience that will affect each child for life. And this is the country they are running to for safety, betterment, hope; that is doing this to them. God calls us Christians to :
37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets+ are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22)
If we Christians truly look to God’s Word to guide our behaviors, let’s look at what the Bible says:
Exodus 22:21 – Moses gives God’s law: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Ecclesiastes 4:1 – “Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them.”
Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”
Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.
Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do no oppress the alien.
Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Luke 4:16-21 – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.”
Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”
II Corinthians 8:13-15 – “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need…”
Ephesians 2:11-22 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”
Hebrews 11 – “By faith Abraham…set out for a place…not knowing where he was going.”
Hebrews 13:1-2 – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…
I don’t know about you, but as for me and my household, we will love faithfully, live peacefully, give generously, forgive gracefully, play joyfully, pray daily, and serve the Lord in all things.
What a strange word : Koinonia
This Greek word has no direct parallel in English. Often people will translate it as fellowship, but that’s like saying the earth is a big blue marble.
God calls us saying, “Abide in my love, agape.” The One who created us also appointed us to bear fruit. Jesus told his disciples, us, that we are not his servants, rather we are his friends, his beloved. We are called to love one another.
I don’t know about you but, WOW. Life is so very hard. People can be just plain mean and scary. How do we love someone like that? What is this love God calls us to live out? What is the nature of this intimacy we are to live in with others? I’ll be happy to give anyone an orange, but I don’t think that’s the fruit God’s talking about. The Divine must be talking about spiritual fruit: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ok, I can do that on a good day with those I love. But wow, on a bad day or with a mean person. UGH
Our salvation doesn’t depend on our behavior. Thanks be to God. However, when we claim this incredibly gracious gift offered to us how can we do any less than respond with joy. While life is hard and people are so often downright mean, we can daily do our best to be who God created us to be. Yes, we will fail from time to time, but the more we try to live as who God created us to be and the more we support and encourage one another to do the same the better life will be.
Living as the Koinonia means that we live focused, on the hope God not only promises but has won for us, as if we are in that ‘kindom’ now, already but not yet. Living continually in solidarity of suffering and sharing these spiritual fruits and gifts with everyone. The more we strive to live this way, the more our lives are led toward a reconciling character that is able to confront conflict and even violence, within our relationships and circumstances around us. The love that we would choose to live in is not a stagnant love, rather it is a transforming and powerful love. AND we would not be alone ever.
Koinonia can only be lived out in relationship with God, self and all others. This does not mean we would have to be all the same (what a terrible thought). This means that we would strive to continually live respecting our differences as enhancements of one another sort of like a team. Each team member has different skill sets, different personalities, different looks in fact most everything is different; however, they choose to work together toward a common purpose. Wouldn’t that be an amazing way to live?
The absolute last thing any of us want to think about is another disaster. As we’re still spinning from Hurricane Irma, working toward recovery, we’re exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed and here in the Upper Keys, desperately short on resources. Unfortunately, funders and donors continue to support larger Lower Keys organizations rather than the smaller, yet very capable, organizations of the Upper Keys. Thank goodness for the Landau’s for designating their donation directly for the Upper Keys. We will remember your kindness and direct action on behalf of your community, your neighbors. Thank you. Yes, Lower Keys orgs promise they will share but rarely does the resource ever actually get to the Upper Keys. So what are we to do?
We must pull together, work together to support one another and prepare ourselves against the event of another disaster. We must continue to do our best to attract resources to the Upper Keys. Each of us in the Upper Keys has something to offer to our neighbors and our community depends on each of us participating, caring and doing. Our goal is hope, community and loving one another.
What can you contribute? Your time, energy, extra furniture, an extra room someone can stay, donation, a service, …? Your neighbors need you.
Living Springs has provided more Rx assistance since Irma than we’ve ever provided in any one year in the past. Currently we are out of funds. We also are providing an unprecedented amount of low cost Pastoral Counseling. Anyone who’s household income is $20,000 or lower only pays $5 a session. Over $20,000 we offer a very fair sliding scale. Regardless our sessions cost us $70. Currently we have no funding to cover our loss. Regardless we will continue to offer low cost Pastoral Counseling because this is our mission and we believe in our community. How can we do this? Because our staff prefers to serve as volunteers so that our vital services can continue to be offered. We continue to seek funding to cover our services AND our staff, but until that happens our dedicated staff offers service because it is vital to our Upper Keys community.
If you are a representative of an organization or business, you might want to check out the Ready Rating website from the Red Cross. Just click on the Ready Rating seal above and it will walk you through an assessment to make sure you’ve thought of and prepared for everything needed.
Do you have something you’d like to offer to your neighbors but don’t quite know how to offer it? Please fill out this confidential form and either Pam or Evelyn will get back to you.
Spring, with it’s wonderful bursting forth with life, is on its way. The air is warming, the rains are nourishing, blossoms are budding, bees are buzzing, birds are singing. In fact, have you noticed that here in the Keys the birds even sing in the middle of the night? I’ve lived many places but this is the only place where the birds are so happy they sing even in the dark.
Our surviving trees are budding like never before. Soppadilla,mangoes, calamondin, moringa, starfruit, holy basil, figs, lemons, cherries, avocados and more are preparing to nourish us and our friends. Buds are everywhere. Hope springs forth once again. My garden of tomatoes, white bush squash, okra, brussel sprouts, rosemary, sage, thyme, sweet mint, chocolate mint, basil, oregano, sweet bell peppers, rue, and cabbage is flourishing.
Sharing in whatever goodness we have is the key to good and healthy living. Surrounding ourselves with others who are striving toward health and goodwill is a sure way to increase our joy and sustenance. Yes, we have all been negatively affected by Irma. But we don’t have to stay there.
All those ugly emotions can be processed and make way for hope and joy, in fact, hope and joy that can be sustained even in the midst of trials. Well, ok joy that is experienced as peace. The first step is to recognize how we are being today. So many of Keys neighbors are angry, scared, hungry, frustrated, ______ (you fill in the blank). This is a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. The healthy thing to do is to work through it with an objective healthy trained third party: a pastor, rabbi, pastoral counselor, mental health counselor, spiritual director. And there are plenty right here who are waiting, willing and affordable even for those who can’t afford help. Truly.
Invest in you and your future. Vote for health and happiness. It really can be real for you and your family and friends. Living Springs Counseling is here waiting for your call: 305.432.9554 or email: PamF@DOLPHINSLivingSprings.org
We will help you take healthy steps forward.
Everything we do is done by volunteers. Even our Executive Director is a volunteer. Our volunteers help with fundraisers, booths at local events, our recovery work for the Upper Keys, speaking at churches, meetings, local events about what we do.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer contact us through the form below and Pam will call you.
Please fill out this form to volunteer. This will go directly to Pam’s email and she will contact you.
We’ve all seen all the pictures, we hear and live the stories every day
So here’s a picture to warm your heart.
And a list of resources to help you heal.
Go to the above link for a list of very helpful companies and organizations to get furniture and more.
Jobs Jobs Jobs
Career Source – has lots of part-time and full-time jobs; and they are THE one stop shop, you can also apply for Disaster Unemployment there as well as much more. They’re at the Pink Plaza, go past West Marine (north) and up the stairs/elevator.
St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church – Mondays starting at 4 PM
Burton Memorial UMC – call them for hours 305.852.2581
1st Baptist Islamorada – call them for hours 305.432.0312
New places to get food/clothes/diapers and more!
Key Largo Baptist – call for information 305.451.1642
Church of the Nazarene – call for help 305.304.9060
If you need mattresses call Sean at 407.451.4310.
Catholic Charities has items available: bunk beds, storage lockers, and refrigerators, all in good working order.
Please contact Meagan Hull (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested or know somebody who could use this stuff. updated Nov 3, 2017
For help with rent/bills/mortgage from Catholic Charities contact: Charlene Pagan 305.619.2646.
More Help with Rent/bills/mortgage
Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, $25,000 from the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys to provide much-needed help for rent, housing and other needs to full-time fishing guides. Contact Steve Friedman at email@example.com for more information. updated 10/25/17
Monroe County Education Foundation, $25,000 from the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys to provide immediate assistance to teachers and educators Keys-wide. For assistance, contact Chuck Licis at firstname.lastname@example.org. updated 10/25/17
Financial Assistance available through Catholic Charities for residents of Monroe County affected by Irma. Call Charlene Pagan for information at 305 619 2646.
KAIR is also offering help with rent/bills/mortgage. Call at (305) 743-4582.
FKEC and Coldwell Banker foundations are offering assistance with rent/bills/mortgage.
Living Springs Counseling – offering Pastoral Counseling at a generous sliding scale, Rx assistance and urgent needs assistance. Call at 305.432.9554 (no text)
“12 Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant, and she cried out because she was in labor, in pain from giving birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: it was a great fiery red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven royal crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of heaven’s stars and threw them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth, he might devour her child. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was snatched up to God and his throne. 6 Then the woman fled into the desert, where God has prepared a place for her. There she will be taken care of for one thousand two hundred sixty days.”
On the tail of the August 21 Solar Eclipse we experience yet another stunning heavenly event. Many are comparing the upcoming September 23 placement of stars, planets, sun and moon to the scripture we find in Revelation 12. What does this mean?
There are some who read the book of Revelation as a timeline for the end of times. People with this understanding are quite concerned about the movement of the “heavenly bodies” on September 23. As you can see in the picture above, the “scene” depicted in the Bible can be applied to the “scene” astrology provides for us. As a result, people of this thinking, believe this is “one more sign that” the end of the world is coming.
Many have asked for my thoughts on the matter. Some are fearful, some aren’t sure if they should be fearful or not, many are confused. On top of these “heavenly events” Americans are experiencing hate in our communities and streets in a way that hasn’t been typical in the last few decades. This hate seems to be getting stronger right here in our own backyards. Confusion on how to deal with hate without hating has become an imminent concern. Our economy continues to struggle despite increased interest rates and proclamations from on high. Trust in our political system is in an all time low. Stress, hate, fear, signs seem to be everywhere. Our world seems to be falling apart around us. Is it true? Is the end coming in September?
Even more important is the question: What is a Christian’s place in the midst of all of this?
When God revealed to God’s beloved (every human) then and now: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” Revelation 21:1 God also confirmed: “See, the home of God is among the mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his people and God himself will be with them” vs 3 This is reminiscent of Jesus saying to his disciples of then and now: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? … the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” John 14 Jesus was speaking to people who knew he was/is/always will be the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Son of God and the listeners were suffering under the terrible hate, stress and signs in their time. Jesus also said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” John 14
Was Jesus trying to threaten his disciples into “being good”? Or was Jesus proclaiming the Divine promise of hope that his followers can trust in and hold on to, cherish so they/we can live lives of faithful thanksgiving based on the agape (love in action) defining their/our every decision, every action, every breathe? Was the One Who Loved Us Into Being and who has provided for our Salvation, telling us to cower in a dark corner when terrible things happen? Or was the Giver of Life reminding us of what we are to be about regardless of what happens? Was the Giver of Life reminding us that our role as God’s beloved is to live out the agape and grace and blessings that we are continually given?
True Christians don’t have to run amuck suddenly and “fix” their behavior. True Christians are already, in the here and now, living according to the grace and agape and blessings and salvation given to us freely. Why would we be living this way? Because we grasp the incredibly wonder-full gifts/blessings God has already and continues to deliver to us each and every minute just because God loves us. When we finally understand (as best we can) we can do no less than live our lives in thanksgiving. Sure we mess up, yes we are still stumbling but we catch ourselves AND one another, seeking to truly live according to the grace we’ve been given.
So, are Christians the only one’s given all this amazing stuff by God? Heaven’s no! Every human being is held in God’s blessed embrace of love and grace and salvation simply because God chooses to keep you there. God calls you and every other human being “Beloved” no matter what. The only difference is knowing and accepting these gifts and allowing them to truly bless your life and living.
Heavenly signs, hostility, hate, ugliness of every kind has no hold over God’s Beloved, over those who believe in the Divine. Sure, we hurt, we feel fear, we are saddened, but none of that can control us because “we know that God works all things together for the good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
So, on September 23 walk forward into the day, holding your head high and proclaim the love of God through your walking, talking, living, watching, holding, working, driving, thinking … through it all. And on September 24, go and do likewise God’s good and faithful servant.
May you always know God’s Blessings through all things.