Worship Service in Solidarity With
Unaccompanied Minors Crossing the Borders
Worship based on a news report at New York Times, 08/26/2012
and using songs of Mercedes Sosa
* Since this is not supposed to be a full liturgy nor it gives all the info about this theme, it invites you to investigate, add, change and/or move anything you and your community see necessary.
Prelude: Kyrie, Misa Criola by Mercedes Sosa
Call to worship
One: Brothers and Sisters, today we are called to respond to God’s love by responding to the hurts and pains of ninos/children of all ages who are crossing the borders between Mexico and Unites States by the hands of coyotes or even alone. The rush of young border crossers began last fall but picked up speed this year, according to official figures. From October through July, the authorities detained 21,842 unaccompanied minors, most at the Southwest border, a 48 percent increase over a year earlier. Some left their parents behind at home. Many came yearning to reunite with parents who have long been living here illegally. The figures are striking… the numbers of young unaccompanied Mexicans crossing have stayed steady, and minors from Central America — especially El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — have nearly doubled since last year.
Today, we are called to worship God by pointing our hearts to God’s children crossing the borders and going through an uttered difficult time.
God in your mercy
All: Let us worship God with all our hearts, and minds and border crossing bodies
One: Where there is no hope
All: By God’s mercy, let us all of us be the hope in the world
One: Where there is no joy
All: By God’s mercy, let us all of us be the joy in the world
One: Where there is no peace
All: By God’s mercy, let us all of us be the peace in the world
One: Where children are wandering alone in this world
All: By God’s mercy, let us all of us be the house, country, warmth and care for all of them all.
Song: Solo le pido a Dios
Confessing our sins:
One: The young people, mostly from Mexico and Central America, ride to the border on the roofs of freight trains or the backs of buses. They cross the Rio Grande on inner tubes, or hike for days through extremes of heat and chill in Arizona deserts. The smallest children, like Juan, are most often brought by smugglers. So far this year, more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors have been placed in deportation proceedings, nearly double last year’s numbers. Young migrants say they are fleeing sharply escalating criminal violence in their home countries. Federal agencies have scrambled to muster adequate detention facilities, while legal groups try to find lawyers to represent them. Judges, for their part, have struggled to offer fair hearings to penniless youths who speak little English and often do not even understand why they are in court. The influx has heightened concerns that young people without legal help may not be able to obtain even the most basic justice. “It is almost impossible for children to receive relief in immigration court on their own…”
God in your mercy
All: hear our prayers
Two: The immigrant who was facing deportation rose to his feet, in a clean T-shirt and khaki pants several sizes too large, with his name — JUAN — printed on a tag around his neck. But the judge could not see him. Juan’s head did not rise above the court’s wooden benches. Juan David Gonzalez was 6 years old. He was in the court, which would decide whether to expel him from the country, without a parent — and also without a lawyer. Juan left holding the social worker’s hand, grinning proudly when she told him he had done well. But his case was just beginning. Most likely it would end with a final order for his deportation.
God in your mercy
All: hear our prayers
Three: … there was no lawyer to accompany Liliana to her first court hearing on June 4. Her parents stayed away, fearful of the immigration officer at the court entrance. “I had to speak by myself,” Liliana recounted in her small voice. Even with an interpreter, Liliana had a hard time following the hearing. She gave the judge her name and age. But she did not understand that she had crossed an international boundary, or that she was now in the United States, or what the United States is exactly. She did not know she had done anything wrong. The judge set a new hearing date and urged Liliana to get a lawyer. But the volunteer lawyers her parents consulted in South Texas have been reluctant to take her case, which is weak since both parents are here illegally.
God in your mercy
All: hear our prayers
All: Extemporaneous prayers of forgiveness considering children crossing borders everywhere around the world
Sing: Kyrie Eleison (anyone) or Kyrie, Misa Criola by Mercedes Sosa
“Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
God makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights”
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”
40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Sermon – Attend to my children
Some answers came from the Women’s Refugee Commission, an advocacy group in New York, which interviewed more than 150 young migrants in Texas in June. Most said they were seeking to escape increasingly violent gangs and drug traffickers at home, who were recruiting children aggressively. “They are willing to risk the uncertain dangers of the trip north to escape certain dangers they face at home,” said Jessica Jones, a member of the commission’s fact-finding team. Sometimes parents living illegally in this country will initiate a child’s journey. Tighter border enforcement under the Obama administration has made them reluctant to leave, fearing that they will not be able to return. Instead, they hire smugglers, paying up to $5,000 per child. “The children at home feel unloved, they feel empty,” said Elizabeth G. Kennedy, a researcher at San Diego State University who studies child migrants. “If parents know their child is feeling empty and is in danger, they will make a decision.”
A testimony from a father: It was me who had to leave home in El Salvador and leave my children behind, three of them, 6, 10 and 14. I had no other way to bring food to my family. I crossed the desert with the help of a coyote who crossed me inside of a gas tank of a truck. It was 20 of us inside of that place without much air or food. It was our only way. I finally arrived in Arizona and we were able to escape. I found a job cleaning a supermarket in the evening. I lived with many others in a small apt and by eating very little I was able to send some money to my family. However, what I was making was not enough. My wife had to come and her coming was a disaster. She was abused by coyotes and very bad treated by border police man. After 2 months in those private jails along the South of US she was deported to El Salvador. That experience was so violating to her that she got ill and died in 6 months. My kids had only an ill untie to take care of them. Two daughters not in school and my boy was being asked to work for the local drug dealers. I had to tell my older boy to bring his two sisters here. I made a debt to pay a coyote and bring them here. When they were in the desert, the police saw the group and came with a helicopter. This operation is known only to scare the immigrants and disperse them all. My boy lost his sisters and until today I don’t know where they are. I’ve been looking for them everywhere but I heard nothing. I know they are not back home but I don’t know if they are in the hands of coyotes, in jails or if they have died. I am desperate and the only thing I know to do is to pray.
Response – Teaching each other the values of being human
Read by a narrator, woman and congregation:
Narrator: One afternoon, Violeta Discua, a legal assistant, gave a marathon three-hour talk to two dozen feisty teenagers, who at first rolled their eyes and slouched in their chairs. Soon they were riveted.
Woman “Who arrested you?”
Narrator: Ms. Discua asked, spreading her arms and scowling to imitate the eagle that sits atop the badges of agents.
Congregation: “The Border Patrol!”
Narrator: they responded, delighted at her pantomime.
Woman: “What do they want to do with you?”
Congregation: “Deport us!”
Narrator: they shouted. She gave a message many of them later said they had never heard before:
Woman: “Remember, no one can mistreat you. No one can hit you, not even with their little finger.”
Narrator: She wiggled her pinkie. The youths fell silent, taking that in.
Woman: “Are you bad people?”
Narrator: they exclaimed. She explained the rudiments of their limited legal options, the procedures for their court appearances and what they should expect if they were expelled from the United States, as most would be.
Singing the Credo – Los Fronterizos – Misa Criolla con Mercedes Sosa
One: El Señor esté con vosotros.
All: Y con tu usted.
One: Levantemos el corazón al alto.
All: Lo tenemos levantado hacia el Señor.
One: Demos gracias al Señor, nuestro Dios.
All: Es justo y necesario alabar a Dios.
Abraham was a border crossing
Isaac was a border crosser
Jacob was a border crosser
Joseph was a border crosser
Moses was a border crosser
Hagar was a border crosser
Ana was a border crosser
Esther was a border crosser
Lidia was a border crosser
Joseph, Mary and Jesus were border crossers in the midst of a genocide
The Holy Spirit crossed borders to start the church
And is still crossing borders today
Churches are border crossing places
We are border crossing people, all of us with no exception
No human being is illegal. None!
This country and every country are made of border crossers
We are heirs of border crossing people
We must attend the borders without ceasing
Recite: Border Crossers, Lawerence Mize, Sr.
Out in the dark
at the bend of a road.
A little girl in a white dress
stood all alone.
She’d been there for hours.
Waiting for someone to take her hand.
The coyote warned her.
Stay put where you stand.
Someone will come.
To take you away.
You have to be brave.
Do as I say.
The night closed in
as she stood her ground.
She stared straight ahead
not making a sound.
She’d crossed the border
with just the clothes on her back.
She and her father
were never going back.
The crossers had swelled
from a few to a throng.
She was separated by the mass
that kept rushing along.
Her father was gone, but,
the coyote was found.
He took pity on the girl
and had helped her along.
I’ll look for your father.
Do what I can.
You’ll be safe here.
This is where you stand.
The hours passed
as the night wore on.
She worried her father
would forever be gone.
Then suddenly a voice
and a figure in the road.
She drew in a breath
as her father came near.
He kneeled and hugged her.
Told her there was nothing to fear.
She was happy again.
Her father had her by the hand.
God holds our hands as our mother and father
Jesus walks with us through the desert
The Holy Spirit opens the doors of countries, states and houses to welcome all of the children of God. This is our faith! And our faith comes from Jesus Christ who transformed our lives and make us boldly affirm:
Christ has died!
Christ has risen!
Christ is coming again!
When children appear in court without lawyers, it can be distressing for them and for judges. One judge tried to put a boy at ease by asking playfully to share a bit of the child’s lunch. Thinking that he was supposed to have brought food for the judge, the boy burst into tears.
Sing: Sanctus – “Misa criolla”
Prayer: Our Father
There is hope! But a recent report found that as many as 40 percent of unaccompanied minors who were detained in federal shelters were eligible for some kind of legal immigration status. The report was by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit group that provides services to thousands of youths.
Through the courts, young migrants can gain legal status if they were severely abused or neglected at home or were victims of human traffickers. Sometimes they have relatives living here legally who can sponsor them. In a few cases, children have discovered that they were United States citizens but did not know it.
Inviting people to the table:
Brothers and sisters, at this table, holding the disasters of the world and the hopes and promises of joy, peace, justice and transformation that we have before us, let us share the bread and the wine together as if we are feeding children along the borders.
Friends we are bread and wine, consolation and peace, warmth and healing, hope and horizon for these kids. While we listen to this song, let us all come to the table.
Song: Soy Pan -Soy Paz-Mercedes Sosa
Let us now remember our savior Jesus who said… words of institution around the bread and the wine.
Let us share bread and wine with each other holding the world at heart!
Song during communion – Y dale alegria a mi corazón – Mercedes Sosa
Prayer after Eucharist:
We praise God for God’s love manifested in Jesus Christ, making us believe that trough the work of the Holy Spirit, we can and we will offer a better life for these ninos now and all those who cross this or any possible border. In Jesus name we name the possible names of these ninos who are lost, who were abandoned, who are scary and have no where to go. The congregation say out loud some or all of these names:
With these names in our minds and hearts we go to the world making walls become bridge and attending to every child we see and hear and imagine. Let no children around the borders be left behind!! In the name of God, our father and mother, Jesus Christ our redeemer and the Holy Spirit our consoler, healer, teacher and igniter. Amen!
Postlude: We all sing together: Solo le Pido a Dios
Source for this worship: I used parts of the news in the midst of the worship along with my own writing and songs from Mercedes Sosa
Misa Criolla – Mercedes Sosa
Songs from Mercedes Sosa
Pictures: Cláudio Carvalhaes