The Sunday Sermon: Vida Joven Day

Six words: Love Christ, Serve Others, Welcome All.

These six words, the mission statement of our cathedral, also encompass our purpose here today. For we are celebrating Vida Joven de Mexico, our foster home in Tijuana, MX. We support Vida Joven to love, protect and educate some 30 – 35 children. These children have been abandoned, either because their parents are in prison, or incapacitated by drugs. Last year I talked about one of our kids, Rosario, who arrived at the casa having wandered the streets of Tijuana at a very young age, all alone at 2 o’clock in the morning . Now Rosario is doing well, has new glasses, has caught up to her peers socially and loves school. Just one of our success stories, which include housing and educating these kids, and even sending three of our older girls to University.

It is thanks to Stephen Velez-Confer and many others, some of whom are here today, that Vida Joven exists at all. The devoted and dedicated people who had started the house by sheltering a number of kids who were incarcerated with their parents in prison, had run out of steam and fundraising ideas, and wanted to retire. The house was in danger of closing, until, as our former dean Scott said, “I sent a van load of bleeding heart clergy and sharp pencilled business people down to assess the situation. They came back saying, ‘after much prayer we have determined that we must take this on.’ ” So we did, and now we celebrate.

Today’s celebrations include a forum in which Beth Beall, our program director, will show us life at the home, through pictures and discussion, followed by a
q&a session led by Silvia, our house director and chair of the Mexican board of directors. Sylvia’s niece, Marcia, will join us in the pulpit in a few minutes to tell us about the work of the past year, and where we hope to go from here. And Amy Dagman has worked all year with the children to produce a wonderful art show, located in the sixth ave courtyard, near the Guild room. The art is for sale. Finally, there will be great food, both at the forum and after the 10:30 service. So today we have a fiesta in honor of Vida Joven and its mission.

The mission of the home is to love, protect, and educate every child who comes to Vida Joven. Some have called Vida Joven, formerly known as Dorcas House, our flagship outreach project. For ten years now, we, and many others throughout the diocese and beyond, have worked to ensure its viability. It takes much work, persistence and a lot of prayer to keep our home open.

And our Gospel today focuses upon the importance of two things: prayer and persistence. “Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” The parable is a call for us to be persistent in prayer and action. After all, the annoying widow pushed and pushed until the judge finally threw up his hands and granted her what she wanted. The widow’s persistence alone seemingly leads the judge to act justly. But Jesus indicates that God is the unseen actor. “Will not God grant justice for his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7).

The point is that only God can bring about justice in an unjust world. That is why we must pray and not give up in our work. As we contemplate our own prayer habits, let’s look at some prayers written by the children of Vida Joven.

Lord, I ask that you cleanse our hearts.
Lord, I ask that you give us one more day of life and strength.
The Lord loves you, and I love you.
Dear God, watch over Silvia.
The Lord calms our pain.
Lord have mercy on those who need you.
Lord I call on you for the Mothers of the House. I love them.
Lord bless our families.
To my family, I love you very much.
Heal with much love.

Jesus argues, if an unjust judge can be moved by persistent petitions to help a stranger for whom he has no regard, how much more “will God help his own chosen ones who cry to him day and night!”

Therefore, always pray and don’t lose heart.

So this parable is intended to be an encouragement for us to pray continually and persist in our work.

Now, I would like to introduce Marcia Laborin, Sylvia’s niece, who will tell you more about the wonderful work of Vida Joven, but before I do, I ask you to remember:
In Tijuana

6,000 children live on the street
80,000 do not attend school
400 used to live with their parents in prison

Vida Joven is changing those horrific numbers, one child at a

Jeremiah 31:27-34, Psalm 119:97-104, Luke 18:1-8
The Rev. Canon Joan Butler Ford

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