Dear Holy Covenant Community,
Every week we proclaim our mission statement: Seek God, Love all People, Change the World. We say “Love all people” because we believe that God’s grace extends to all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, or country of origin. We claim God’s radical hospitality and work so that human categories of division are replaced with God’s abundant welcome. Our faith is grounded in the good news of the Bible, which calls us to radical love:
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Lev. 19:33-34
And Jesus teaches us that anytime we welcome a stranger into our midst we are welcoming him:
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. Matt. 25: 38-40
As people of faith, grounded in the goodness of the living Word, we are called to speak out when the policies of our country are oppressing God’s beloved children. This oppression is happening right now in Arizona with the passage of the immigration bill SB1070. Read what people of faith, including United Methodists, are saying in this article by the General Board and this article by Jim Burke, a Missionary for Immigration & Border Issues.
Immigration reform is a complex issue that needs serious reform and I can’t do it justice in this short space, and we as a community no doubt have differing views about what shape this reform should take. But in the midst of this complexity, we do have a responsibility as Christians to work against racial profiling and unjust criminalization. Read what The United Methodist Church believes about immigration. Here’s a snapshot:
The story of the United States is the story of immigration. The history of the United States is characterized by waves of ethnic groups arriving to these shores searching for security and prosperity. Each new wave of immigrants has brought with them hopes and dreams of a better life, as well as unique strengths and contributions to give to the country as a whole. These strengths and contributions have made the United States a richer and more diverse tapestry of cultures. Unfortunately, each new wave of immigrants has also encountered the sting of prejudice and racial hatred from those already here, but who had so quickly forgotten their immigrant heritage. The immigrant values of labor, family and hope have transformed the United States and continue to bring much needed change today. A comprehensive approach to immigration reform seeks to understand why immigrants have come to the United States and recognizes the tremendous contributions they have given and will continue to give. Enforcement-only approaches to immigration reform are limited in their scope and take into account only the “breaking of the law” through illegally crossing the border. The General Board of Church and Society does not advocate for “open borders” or for “amnesty,” but rather, for a comprehensive approach that protects the rights of workers, reunifies families separated by long waits in the current immigration process, and for an earned pathway to citizenship for those who wish to remain in this country.
Let us be in prayer for the people of Arizona, lawmakers, law enforcement, religious leaders, those living in fear, and all people, that we might open our eyes to the stranger in our midst and there encounter the image of God.
See you on Sunday, and think about who you can bring with you.
Grace and Peace,