LOOK AT THIS PHOTO. On the left everyone is treated equally. They all three have a same size box on which to stand to watch the game. One kid still can’t see over the fence. On kid is just right. The other can see but does he need a box? One the right is fairness. The shorter kid gets two boxes on which to stand. The middle kid has one. The taller boy gets nothing. In this picture, all three can see the game. That’s fair.
We understand this. Equality means every child in school has to pay for lunch or every child gets a free lunch. But we know, not every child has the money to pay for lunch. We know some families have plenty of money to buy lunch. So, some get free lunch and some don’t.
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WE ALL, EVEN CHILDREN, understand fairness, but at times we forget to practice it. Isaiah names three groups of people that it’s especially important to treat fairly because we can easily overlook them.
■ The oppressed.
■ Those who have endured prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or persecution.
■ Those who have been exploited.
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SOME OF YOU remember Mike and Monnie Anderson. Mike was interim pastor here before I came to Swift. Monnie has been on a humanitarian trip to the border between Texas and Mexico. She and others spent a few days working at the Catholic Charities Respite Center. Asylum-seekers from all over Central America come to the border. There INS or ICE processes them and drops them at the respite. There they move from station to station getting their names put into a computer, receiving clothing, toiletries, and food. Monnie was shown the nuns’ process for making ham-and-cheese sandwiches. When they leave the respite, they are given the bags for traveling containing three bottles of water, four sandwiches and chips.
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THE ORPHAN. We don’t have many true orphans anymore. A child without any parents. We do have many neglected children. Children who have parents at home but those parents are more interested in other things than caring for their children.
Kalon had been in foster care since age 2, until a judge sent him back to live with his mom when he was 17. When his mom kicked him out of the house, he spent winter nights sleeping in a park while trying to finish high school. Smith had no bed, no documents, no shower — and no food. He went back to his old neighborhood and knocked a door, hoping to get something to eat. The woman who answered didn’t just give him a meal and send him on his way. She took him into her home, where he had warm food and a roof over his head. She also set him up with the church down the street, which helped him find a job and apply for a Social Security card.
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THE WIDOW. Timothy, in the New Testament, recognizes fairness over equality. He says not every widow needs special attention, but to give proper care to widows who are in need. In our world and culture, I think it appropriate to also add to that single-parents. Often — particularly moms with children — they struggle.
Emma gave up her 12th birthday by asking people to make donations to single mothers and their children instead of giving her gifts. She invited single-parent families from her school to the party. Emma set up craft projects for the kids and after giving the parents a gift card, provided two hours of free babysitting.
Isaiah doesn’t give us a complete list of who needs special focus. But these three groups recur again and again throughout the Bible. God especially cares for the oppressed, the orphan and the widow. We do good when we care for them also.