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Your Shoes Are Made for Walkin’
Until we walk in their shoes, it’s difficult to understand the needs of the hungry and homeless around the world. Church World Service understands. Through the CROP Hunger Walk, churches around the nation march against hunger—both locally and globally. CROP challenges you to put on your walkin’ shoes Sunday, November 4, for a 10K walk against hunger. Join us for the CROP Walk—it’s good for your sole! (This year’s walk begins at the south edge of Audubon Park. Get pledge forms from Pastor Schelter or Baerbel Williams.)
GET IN TOUCH
Behind Closed Doors
(A Word of Hope for the Animals that Can't be at Our 25th Pet Blessing)
At the time, no one gave it a thought. Life was business as usual.
It was almost as if the concentration camps of early 1940's Germany were part of the daily routine. After all, they were out of sight, out of the mainstream. "Out of sight, out of mind", right? "What you don't know, can't hurt you", correct?
But today those "invisible" concentration camps are one of the most egregious stains on human history: the holocaust. They are a mark of shame from which Germany will never completely recover. To think that it all happened behind closed doors.
How could no one notice? Why did no one care ... when longtime neighbors simply disappeared? Was there no compassion? Didn't the nation have a conscience? How come only a few spoke up? Those questions have never been answered to anyone's satisfaction--least of all to the people of Germany. To Germany's credit, "never again" became the motto of the Holocaust, and rightly so. It is unimaginable that such heinous crime against humanity could ever happen again.
Nations like ours have roundly condemned this unimaginable torture as barbaric brutality ... without checking behind our own closed doors. Our closed doors hid Japanese and Asian citizens in camps of our own making during WWII. And today, our closed doors still hide roughly 500 children in “holding camps” at the border. Even as we turn away from human suffering, pain, and cruelty in other parts of the world, the cries of torture are heard in our own. We hide our faces as if it didn't happen ... as if life is business as usual.
Why does no one notice? Does no one have any empathy for pain? Does our nation have a conscience? History reminds us that some of the greatest human atrocities are committed--and tolerated--by hiding our face and pretending not to notice.
Our concentration camps still exist today right under our noses. I realize that most will scoff at this idea, but I would invite you to open up yet another closed door and look inside. We dress up the names of our camps to call them feed lots, poultry sheds, factory farms... even as we once called our concentration camps, Indian reservations, and cotton plantations. Those titles cannot hide the horror chambers and torture cages that they are.
I won't bore you with statistics. You can look them up. But to deny the torture of animals is to deny the essence of our humanity. We, who are made in the image of God have no right to deny the rights of fellow creatures given life--and feeling--by our common Creator. If we do not wake up, we will one day be judged ... and rightly so ... for our cruelty… just as we so easily judge the people of 1940's Germany for theirs. Yes, there is a difference between humans and animals. But there is no difference in fear and pain and suffering and a newborn being torn away from its mother. Those feelings run deep in both the human kingdom and the animal kingdom. Ultimately, as Romans 8 declares, both are God’s kingdom.
The good news is that God "hides his face from our sins" that happen behind our closed doors. God "blots out our iniquities" and our shame. God turns away from our atrocities and "remembers our sin no more"-- but not so we can keep on our path of barbaric torture. God frees us to open up our closed doors so we can free those trapped, by us, inside.
By now, I'm sure, we're claiming the usual excuse. They're "only" animals. They exist for our pleasure ... irrespective of their rights. So we think of animals as cartoon drawings in a children's book--not as a suffering sacrifice on our dinner plate. But they are not "just" animals and we are not “just” made by God to be the operators of a slaughterhouse. God placed this earth in human hands—not for domination, but for loving care.
On October 7th, for the 25th straight year, we will bless the animals. While we look with love and joy at our pets, can we show the same respect for "all creatures of our God and King?" We can make the usual excuses that compassion doesn't apply to non-domesticated animals ... but that doesn't work when we peel back the curtain and see them brutalized.
The simple truth is that we cannot hide the truth any longer. We know what goes on behind closed doors--and we cannot keep those doors closed anymore. Anymore than we can deny the Holocaust. Anymore than we can deny that several thousand were killed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. For to deny their suffering is to deny their dignity.
Perhaps the worst moment of all, though, is when God turned away. God "hid his face" from Jesus' suffering, Jesus' pain, Jesus' death. While heaven itself turned away, God did not close the door on the day Jesus died. In full view of all creation--humans and animals--we find compassion, healing, and grace.
Now we turn to the cross so that we never again turn away from the pain of our world and from the suffering of creation that goes on behind closed doors. For when Jesus died and rose again, God opened those doors, even as God opened the tomb to a new life, a new heart, and a new appreciation of all God's creatures.