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Palm Sunday procession in Mexico
A Meditation for Holy Week, 2019
When I see someone struggling on the street, 
Make me un-easy Holy One, I’m restless to do your work.
When I see discrimination in my town, 
Make my eyes burn, I’m restless to do your work.
When I see my country embrace racism, sexism, and commodification, 
Set my jaw just right, I’m restless to do your work.
When I see a people, tired and hopeless, oppressed and rejected, 
Make my stomach ache and fix my gaze, I’m restless to do your work.
Make me an instrument of your peace, yes, but make me uneasy.  
I’m restless, you see…I’m restless
to organize, 
and decolonize.
And when at the end of the day, I come before you Great Spirit to rest my feet,
Soften my gaze 
Comfort me Yahweh
Carry me Allah
Cradle me Mother
In the bosom of your grace.
Restless was written by Elizabeth Kopanski Harmon, Minister of Healing and Community Transformation, Billings First Congregational Church (UCC) of Billings, Montana.

Pastor Manda
April 14: Palm Sunday
Special Adult Sunday School this Sunday at 9:30am: We will be led by Dr. Susanne ScholzProfessor of Old Testament at Perkins School of Theology. She is doing research on how non-theologians make sense of passages like this in the Bible. We have invited the adults from Greater Life Church to join us, so it should make for interesting conversation! In preparation, read Proverbs 7.

April 18: Maundy Thursday
Join us at 7:00pm for a meaningful service of communion, scripture, and song.

April 21: Easter - bring a friend!
9:30am - Potluck Breakfast (bring food to share) and Easter Egg Hunt with Greater Life Church. Photo Booth with fun props!
11:00am - Easter worship
Maundy Thursday Worship
April 19 at 7:00pm
Easter Sunday (Bring a Friend Sunday)
9:30am - Breakfast and Easter egg hunt
11:00am - Worship
May Peace Prevail

Submitted by Rev. Tom VandeStadt, Congregational Church of Austin, UCC

I got to the border sitting in a van driving through hard rain, which made the journey relatively quick, as well as dry and comfortable. While at the border, I ate three good meals a day, slept in a bed with clean sheets and four pillows, and took a hot shower every night to feel clean and relaxed.

It broke my heart open to see, be surrounded by, and talk to so many people who’d walked all or most of the way from Central America to the US border. So many people were getting their first good meal in days after getting nothing but frozen bologna sandwiches the detention facility fed them twice a day. So many people waiting outside in line for an hour on muddy pallets to get a cold shower in a Salvation Army shower unit and to dress in donated clean clothes. So many people sleeping on the dirty linoleum floor on thin blue mats in rooms with other families, so many people clutching bus tickets in big white envelopes with Jersey City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chattanooga, or just about anywhere else in the US written on them with magic marker.

At Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas, a young father emerged from the crowd with his son and asked me if there was a doctor. I told him to follow me, I’d take him to la clinica. As we walked, I looked down at his son, who looked to be about ten, limping along on beat-up feet in rubber flip-flops. I asked him in my rusty Spanish, “caminaste lejos para legar aqui?” He turned his face to me, looked me in the eye, and nodded his head, si. I saw pain in his face. “Tienes mucho dolor?” I asked. He nodded, si. When we arrived at la clinica, I wished the boy and his father well, then hurried back to what I was doing, which was handing out towels at the shower, sorting dirty and discarded clothing into bins, and chatting with the people waiting in line for a shower, mostly young mothers and fathers with young daughters and sons from Central America. My encounter with the boy whose feet hurt, whose face showed pain, was one of many quick yet heart-rending encounters I had on the trip. Over and over again I experienced compassion—a poignant pain in my gut, a desire to help. But also anger. And I still feel anger. I’m angry because there’s good evidence that our country’s official policy is to afflict refugee parents and children from Central America with further suffering. By restricting the number of Central Americans who can legally cross our border to seek asylum, and by enforcing zero-tolerance for unauthorized border crossing, our country is intentionally afflicting people who’re fleeing affliction in order to deter them from asking us for help.

In Matamoros, Mexico, adults and children waiting to cross the border legally are living under the border bridge and surviving on the goodwill of people bringing them food, water, supplies, and information, as we did. People waiting there told us the US was allowing one family per week to cross legally. One couple from Guatemala City, who said they left because of gangs, have already waited several months to cross legally so they can file an asylum claim, and are hopeful they can cross within a few weeks. In the meantime, they’ll continue living in what amounts to a homeless encampment under the bridge in Mexico, eating and drinking what others bring them.

Treating poor Central Americans like this is nothing new for our country. The United States has afflicted poor people in Central America with political, economic, and military oppression for over a century. It’s a sordid history of imperialism, support for dictators and oligarchies, and the violent suppression of popular movements for justice and human rights. Because of this history, many Central American families today are poor, face political suppression and ecological degradation, and are subject to violent criminal networks and cartels that operate on all levels of society, from national governments down to the workplace, street, and home. A horrible life-or-death choice confronts many of them—risk everything by staying, or risk everything by leaving. Most who leave head for our country, for we are both the land that afflicts them and the land of hope and opportunity. At our border, they hit the wall of official US policy, which treats them as shamefully as it has so often treated Central Americans. But, thank God, other people from our country are doing all they can on both sides of the border to welcome, protect, and help the refugees, to offer them a different experience of who we are as a people.

There’s a peace pole planted in the earth just several hundred feet from the border wall in Brownsville, Texas. May Peace Prevail On Earth, the pole says in English and Spanish. It takes peacemakers for peace to prevail, and we need more peacemakers at the border, all along the border, on the other side of the border, in Jersey City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Chattanooga, here in Austin, everywhere in this country the refugee parents and children are going, everywhere in this country someone can resist our country’s official policy, prevail over its hard-heartedness, and work to change it. Without more peacemakers making peace in places where it’s official policy to afflict, official policy will prevail, not peace.

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