c r O s s
S u m m e r
Pentecost 9 – Proper 14
Genesis 15:1-6, Psalm 33:12-22, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 and Luke 12:32-40
Every Sunday lectionary doesn’t deserve repeating, but in my estimation, last Sunday’s does. The reason is because of the asylum seeker / immigration crisis looming over our country and over our church. For right or for wrong, last week’s gun violence targeting immigrants, pushed the issue into our faces in a way we cannot ignore. So what are we to do? Are asylum and immigration our issues, or can we blame the paralyzed Congress or the allegedly-racist Administration for not fixing the problem?
Admittedly there is no one easy solution, and no one branch of government can fix it. It’s going to take all of us – not just them – working together. As progressive, socially liberal Christians, the Spirit is screaming at us (no small voice here) to get up, take up our beds, and walk the walk. We do have a clear history, tradition and spiritual DNA on our resume. The Bible tells us who we are, lest we have forgotten our identity as shakers and movers.
If the current dilemma threatens to overwhelm and depress us, God is calling us to get outside our comfort tents, get a breath of fresh Maine air, and take a gander at the kaleidoscopic star show in the heavens. That will put our miniscule selves and problems in perspective. Who are we anyway, that God is mindful of us? Start counting! A star for every asylum seeker?
“Fear” is such an inhibitor to constructive action. “The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid….’ “ (Genesis 15) Jesus to his frightened and unprepared disciples: “Do not be afraid, little flock….” (Luke 12)
Does the recent influx of asylum seekers and immigrants to our country, our State, and eventually our area towns frighten you? What is the basis of this fear? Perhaps it is because they are unknown. They do not look like me, my family, or my familiar neighbors. I remember having to get to know my brother-in-law who is Mexican American, and my son-in-law who is Korean. Years ago it was a challenge for me to get beyond the skin color and ethnic identity and to learn to trust these two new family members who were different. At first they were strangers, like immigrants. Now they are sons and brothers in Christ.
As a Caucasian male, the fifth generation to live on my family’s farm, it is a stretch for me to hear about my Biblical spiritual ancestors like Middle Eastern Abraham. Or for that matter, Middle Eastern Jesus. And yet, they are my role models for walking the walk of faith. Of course circumstances are very different now, but the dynamic of practicing faith is the same.
Abraham demonstrated FAITH: “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” by “Setting out, not knowing where he was going.” Legitimate asylum seekers and immigrants can identify with this journey of faith. As we open our hearts and minds and lives to receiving these strangers, we too, are embarking on a new faith journey, facing uncomfortable uncertainty about how to welcome and support families who may look very different.
I think it may be a matter of our reclaiming our identity as strangers and foreigners ourselves. As mostly middle class Americans, we may be wealthy, safe, secure, and self-satisfied. The Hebrews scripture describes the faith-full, as “seeking a homeland.” Are we seeking a homeland or have we settled in and lost the creative edge of the faith journey? Do immigrants and asylum seekers have something to teach us?