Our Immigrant Neighbors

. 2 min read
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt,
and remain there until I tell you;
for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night,
and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
Matthew 2:13-15
In the recent Christmas season, we were reminded that the
infant Jesus began life as a refugee. You may recall that, last year, we
collected winter clothing for Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey. Our contact
in Turkey (there with the US State Department) continues to volunteer and serve
in the camps. She informs us that with the recent executive order on
immigration, 587 refugees who had already completed the eighteen-month
screening process required for immigration to the U.S. are now in limbo, hoping
to be granted an exception to the new policy. In many cases, these folks have
already sold their few possessions and given up their legal status in Turkey,
making their situation even more precarious than it once was. One hundred of
these refugees were to have arrived in the U.S. this week. Please be in prayer
for these neighbors of ours, most of whom are women and children. Local aid
agencies are scrambling to find ways to assist them in this unexpected time of
need and we may have an opportunity to offer practical help. As soon as I know
anything specific, I will pass that along to you.
I have tremendous personal investment in welcoming and
caring for immigrants. Like many of you, I am the great-grandson of immigrants
on two sides of my family. I was born with citizenship in another nation (as
well as US citizenship). I have helped a friend, Mohammed, study for his
citizenship exams, was present as my brother and sister became citizens, and
made my own citizenship vows before a district justice. Many of you have shared
similar stories. I am moved with compassion to love my immigrant neighbors,
wherever they are from and whatever their story. If you would like to discuss
this further, I would be happy to meet.

Luke’s gospel tells us that when the scribe, wanting to
justify himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded by
telling a story of one person caring for another, one “good” Samaritan caring
for one Jew (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus chose the two most distant and antagonistic
social and religious groups of his time to demonstrate this example of
neighbor-love. Though nations have their own policies, as followers of Jesus we
also recognize our common beloved humanity as those made in God’s image and
purchased by the blood of Christ. In our anxious times, we are called to
practical expressions of courageous love, a gift we have demonstrated time
after time. It is a privilege to share in this call together.