Thursday, July 10, 2014

Xenophobia, Children at the Border, and Jesus

"You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Deuteronomy 10:19

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me." Jesus

Do you see the living Christ fully present in these children and in this family? Do you remember that due to the violent, political atmosphere in their own country, Mary and Joseph took their child and fled, as undocumented migrants, across the border into Egypt? How many of us are here today because our ancestors also fled religious, political, economic, and wars in their homelands? Some may have come through "proper" immigration channels, but not all. Many came across the borders and into this country through other ways.

In 2005, I along with 12 others, went on an immigration educational trip through BorderLinks out of Tucson and Nogales. As a part of our learning, we went down to Altar, Sonora, Mexico where many people fleeing their own land were gathering to risk their lives by crossing the dangerous desert in search of refuge and hope. This family was just one of several who we met and learned their story. They came from Central America. Unable to provide for his family, due to the economic situation, and fearful of the violence in that country, this father and mother, like Joseph and Mary, decided to flee their homes in hopes of a better life. Many of the people we talked with would welcome the chance to return to their homes and home country, when the economic and political climate changes and the violence ends. I also learned that we are part of the problem and part of the solution. We want our investments in companies that move across the border or down into Central America to do well, so we can retire in some comfort or make some money to take that dream trip somewhere. The unintended consequence is that in wanting our investments in these companies to return higher dividends, we want them to pay their workers unfair wages, often just a few dollars a day, provide no benefits, or health care. These companies never support the community or schools around them. The workers live in constant fear of being fired the workers if for any reason are unable to work. If we lived in these conditions, we too might do what many of families and children are doing today, and risk our lives, fleeing such dire circumstances for a chance at a better life. It's not just the politicians or our President, it is us, we the people, who must find it in ourselves to love kindness, do justice, and walk with God, by walking with our brothers and sisters who come to our borders. Organize a trip through BorderLinks or some other immigration education group, learn about the real issues at work in this humanitarian crisis! It is far to easy to be critical of what others are or aren't doing. What are we as human beings doing to help our larger global family? Will it cost us, yes, financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Is it worth it? If it was you and your family, your children, how would you want to be received and helped by others? Fredrick Buechner says: “Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.”

Jesus said: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." The writer of Deuteronomy said: "You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Do you remember?