Life on the Margins: Blessed are the Immigrants
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy,
for surely your reward is great in heaven.
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ~ Deuteronomy 10:19
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. ~ Leviticus 19:33-34
(David said) “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are aliens and transients before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope." ~ I Chronicles 29:14-15
Oh Lord God, you led your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that following your son, we may walk alongside vulnerable refugee families as they build a new life in the bounty of your life and mercy. ~ Prayer, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
There may be no issue that is more divisive in our time than immigration, and not just here in the US. Nations all over the world deal with the political ramifications of refugees.
But the reality is that many of those political issues are the very thing that cause the enormous number of refugees in this world.
Make no mistake. The Bible is chock full of direction from God to care for the refugee and the immigrant. For the Hebrew people, that stemmed from the fact that they were refugees at one time as well.
As Christians we inherit this directive. Few are more hated, reviled, and defamed as a group, so Jesus' call here speaks to this issue clearly.
So what do we do with this? How are we meant to address immigration as a society and as Christians?
Do we begin with doing what we can to stop the hatred toward immigrants of all kinds? Do we call for policy that is just and fair to children who were brought to this country?
Do we remember the Afghan allies who risked their lives to help us in the war in Afghanistan and now are desperate to leave their country or face certain death?
Do we stop telling lies about those who cross our southern border: reject the notion that all of them are drug dealers, rapists, and violent criminals?
Do we read studies on facts that show that immigration has more benefits to the economy than it does costs? (Here are some sources: https://www.bushcenter.org/catalyst/north-american-century/benefits-of-immigration-outweigh-costs.html and https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2021/04/01/evidence-mounts-that-reducing-immigration-harms-americas-economy/?sh=15bd62c8202c and https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/immigrants-contribute-greatly-to-us-economy-despite-administrations )
Regardless of the cost/benefit analysis, our call as Christians is to walk with those who are most vulnerable: those who are outsiders. We are called to show compassion to those who are looking for refuge.
Of all of Jesus' blessings, this perhaps is the most difficult one for many of us to hear. It might be the hardest call to follow.
And yet that call has come to us for thousands of years.
Questions for thought: What are the beliefs you hold dear about immigration? What formed those beliefs? How might you be called to show compassion to refugees?
Pray: Pray the above prayer from LIRS.