When the 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.
May 11, 2018
The Bible is clear that as Christians we are called to welcome aliens and strangers in our land, and to love them as we love ourselves. The particular emphasis in account after account throughout the Bible on strangers, aliens, and foreigners, is consistently an understanding of the vulnerability of people living in the “wrong” place at the “wrong” time, according to the laws and boundaries of humans, not of God.
Being disconnected from homelands, from networks of relatives, from native culture and language, is a vulnerable state of living and being. And yet, for many, with reasons as complex and diverse as those who choose it, this vulnerability is worth risking for safety, security, and opportunity available here in the United States that is not available at home. As Christians, the welcome we are called to extend to strangers in our land is a call to see others, all others, as our neighbors and to love them as ourselves.
Wednesday morning of this week, 32 men were arrested on immigration violations while they worked at Midwest Precast Concrete in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. They were living and working in the “wrong” place, at the “wrong” time. The families of 32 men were abruptly torn apart. What does God call us to do or say in response to how our neighbors are being treated?
Arrest raids of businesses and homes, rounding up our neighbors, leaving children, families, and communities bewildered and in chaos, is wrong. As Rev. Traci Blackmon and Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner wrote in an April 18, 2018 article for the Religious News Service, “Our faith traditions are clear: Welcoming the stranger and treating immigrants fairly are at the center of our sense of justice and morality.”
I encourage all of us, members and friends of the United Church of Christ in the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences, to be the church loudly and proudly in ways that welcome the strangers among us and love our neighbors as ourselves. March and protest and lobby and pray for just and fair treatment of ALL of our neighbors. Reach out to families that are in chaos and offer comfort in casseroles, legal counsel, friendship, and whatever else is needed. BE the hands and feet of Christ, calling out unjust actions, offering comfort, and working for a world that is just for all