CONNECTING………………..Christmas is the special time that we recognize God’s desire to be connected with us.  “For unto us is born” were the words that were used to announce God’s coming.  How could it be possible for God to become one like us?  For many in the world, this thought is outright blasphemy.  For others, this thought is so far fetched that it can only be categorized as fiction.  For Christians, it is our greatest source of hope!  If God became one like us, it means that God is on our side.  And if God is on our side, we have nothing to fear.

I encourage you to share intentionally with someone God’s desire to be connected.  It matters.  Unfortunately, many people feel disconnected and out of place over the holidays.  Life has gone in a different direction.  Too many losses, not enough wins.  Loneliness.  When you share with them God’s desire to be connected perhaps they will see the world in a whole new way.

TREE DECORATING TONIGHT.…………The Christmas Tree is up at Peace!  We just need your help in putting on the decorations.  We will gather for pizza at 6:00 pm.  Bring a side dish or salad to share.  Right after dinner we will start decorating.  If you can’t make dinner, come for decorating.  We will have hot chocolate, cookies and Christmas carols playing.

SUNDAY SCHOOL PROGRAM.………….You will want to get to church early and find a seat as our children and youth lead us in worship for the Christmas Program.  Worship starts at 11.  There will be Adult Sunday School this Sunday at 9:45 in the fellowship hall.  See the topic below as it will guide our discussion.

Newborn Left in a Manger Welcomed by Congregation

Monday, November 23, seemed like any other day to Jose Morán, as he performed his normal duties as custodian at the Holy Child Jesus Roman Catholic Church in Queens, New York. But when he returned to the building after lunch, he discovered that the day was anything except normal.

Perhaps it was the squalling he heard emanating from the general direction of the barren Nativity he had erected just before going on his break. Following the sound, Morán, 60, found a baby boy, four to five hours old with umbilical cord still attached, wrapped in a blue towel in the manger. How he had come to be there was a mystery.

Morán alerted the parish priest, Fr. Christopher Ryan Heanue, who called 911. The five-pound infant was transported to Jamaica Hospital and pronounced healthy.

Surveillance cameras helped detectives unpack the backstory. One showed a young woman entering the church, babe in arms, and leaving without the child. County District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that the woman in the footage had been located and interviewed. No charges will be filed against her.

The 18-year-old mother spoke in Spanish to New York Post reporter Lorena Mongelli on condition that her identity remain anonymous. She said she came to New York from Mexico five months prior. She was able to conceal her pregnancy from family members and the baby’s father because she gained only 10 pounds and wore loose-fitting clothing.

Out of of discovery, she avoided seeking prenatal care and only saw a doctor once, to confirm that she was indeed carrying a child. When her labor pains began, she was alone in her aunt’s house. “I was extremely scared,” she said, “… in excruciating pain for over two hours” before delivering a baby boy. It worried her when he didn’t cry right away, and she was too scared to cut the umbilical cord.

The teenager told Mongelli that she took the boy to a dollar store where she bought a blue towel to wrap him in, since she had no baby clothes for him. When she saw his lips turning purple, she knew she “needed to take him someplace safe” and warm, since it was cold outside and she didn’t want him to die.

“I’m very religious,” she said, “and I thought about the Holy Child Jesus Church. I’ve been there before, and the people there are good. I knew if I left him in God’s hands, he would be okay.” So, she said, she hurried into the sanctuary and prayerfully placed her son, now crying, in the manger, confident that the priest would find him and help him.

Although she did not hand her child directly to an individual, the city attorney determined that she had “followed the spirit of New York’s ‘Safe Haven’ Law,” which states that an adult who has legal custody of an infant 30 days old or younger may leave the child with a responsible person at a hospital, church, police or fire station without fear of arrest. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers are free to come to their own conclusions about whether the method she used to surrender the child was acceptable.]

“It appears that the mother … felt her newborn child would be found safely in the church and chose to place the baby in the manger because it was the warmest place in the church,” Brown said. “And further, she returned the following morning to make certain that the baby had been found.”

While she wants to be a mother one day, she says, she doesn’t feel ready to provide for this boy now. “It’s my baby, and I am still thinking about keeping him,” she adds. “It’s not an easy decision.” It’s not clear whether she will be able to keep her child, who is in the custody of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

Several people, including some parishioners at the Holy Child Jesus Church, have inquired about adopting the baby, Fr. Heanue said. “They feel that he was left in the parish and should stay in the parish,” he told the New York Post.

The city usually tries to place children with relatives first. But “he’s a member [of our community] in our hearts,” the priest said. “A church is a home for those in need.”

Fr. Heanue noted that the church had decided only a few years ago to leave its doors unlocked during the day. Parishioner Katherine Mooney, who has been attending the church over three decades, told ABC News that the church’s open-door policy allowed the mother to do what she thought was best for her child without fear of judgement.

In 1198, Pope Innocent III decreed that churches should allow desperate mothers to leave infants in revolving church doors known as “foundling or abandonment wheels.”

“I think [this young mother] found in this creche, where Jesus will be welcomed in a few short weeks, a place that was welcoming enough for her son,” said the priest.

More on this story can be found at these links:

Newborn Baby Abandoned in New York Church’s Manger Already Being Loved. NPR
Mother Who Left Baby at Queens Church Is Found; No Charges Will Be Filed. New York Times
‘Manger Mom’: I Left My Baby in the Hands of God. New York Post
Parishioners at a Queens Church Where a Newborn Was Left in a Manger Name the Baby. Newsday

The Big Questions

  1. What are some possible reasons why a child might be taken to a church and left there?
  2. What message do you think “Safe Haven” laws give to parents who are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of caring for a child?
  3. What is the difference between abandoning a baby and entrusting an infant to the care of another? What should we call it when a parent leaves a baby? Dumping? Giving up? Letting go? Looking out for the child’s best interests? Avoiding responsibility? Or something else? How do you think the child interprets or feels about the experience?
  4. What should be done with babies that have been abandoned? How can their best interests be served once they have been relinquished by their parents? Who should get custody?
  5. Should parents be allowed second chances if they have taken the radical step of giving up their parental rights? What is the point of no return in cases like this?