Last night I went to the Fast4Families prayer meeting on the mall. For 21 days, a group of dedicated and hopeful folks have been fasting and praying for Congress to pass just and compassionate immigration reform. Sometimes these kind of problems can only be overcome with prayer and fasting, just ask the disciples of Jesus. So, today I am feeling a little empty. Full in heart and empty in the gut. The Diocese of Washington has asked us to fast and pray for immigration reform. Between December 1 and 3, we are asked to live in solidarity with those fasting on the mall for justice. I am fasting today.
I went to the prayer meeting last night because I was asked to attend. I went because I am friends with folks at Misa Alegria at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. Because of my church, I am friends with people who immigrated here from Latin America. I also went because I have been moved by the steadfast work and passion of the Rev. Mike Angell, who worked on the Dream Act, and now is hip-deep in the getting the House of Representatives to act. I went because I have watched the passionate work of our Bishop on reform immigration. I went, simply, because I felt as though I should and I went not expecting much beyond obedience to a request.
Was I ever wrong about that! In the hour of prayer, singing and storytelling, my heart was strangely warmed by those who spoke. We heard from lead organizers, pastors, fasters, Peter Yarrow, our own Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, and from the retired bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson. The Episcopalians were out in force. I heard Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, sing the prayers while teaching a new generation to sing “Blowing in the Wind” and “A Long Walk to Freedom.” Our hearts were lifted in musical prayer lead by an elder of the movement who has been singing protest and hope for over 50 years! And Bishop Mariann told us of her journey and call to work for immigration justice and how she continues that work today as Bishop.
And we heard about those who have been fasting for 21 days, of hospitals and the weakening of the body from hunger. Even doctor’s orders could not keep them away from the prayer meeting. Those who have fasted in solidarity also spoke as they are heading home. And the new fasters got simple crosses made from twigs gathered on the National Mall and shaped into crosses. Some of us went home and decided to fast for a day, maybe a day a week until there is movement.
We clapped and sang and cried and committed to be part of this. Would you like this Facebook page and follow what is going on? Post on the site what you are doing. Sign the petition for this cause: We are fasting as an act of prayer for the families that are torn apart daily by deportations and our broken immigration system.
Perhaps God is calling you to be part of this movement. If so, take a first step. Sign the petition, call a fast, pray for justice. Decide what God is asking of you and then do it.
Photos by the Rev. Linda Kaufman