A Wandering Aramean Was My Ancestor

[Yes, I know I’m on sabbatical, but this seems to me to be at least time sensitive, if not time critical.]

Dear Members of the Cathedral Community and beyond,

Elected officials, government leaders, various politicos and pundits – people with serious power and influence – have been errant, mean, vapid, and many other things that I cannot put in a post like this on the subject of the child immigration crisis along parts of the US southern borders. But now that one of them has gone and said that child immigrants should be put in labor camps, and I cannot hold back.

Most of the rants on child immigrants are coming, in my observation, from individuals who are proud of the labels, “Tea Party” and “Conservative Christian.” Doubtless there are others. (Please understand, it is not my intention to label them. Rather, they claim such descriptors for themselves.)

Given the self-espoused characteristics of this collective group, I would figure they that consider the Bible to be held in very high regard. So here’s the thing, and there seems to me to be no getting around it:

If you call yourself a Christian you have to let them in and care for them! Why? Because Jesus was an undocumented child immigrant!

Just check out Matthew 2:13. Joseph had a dream and in it “the Lord” said, “Get up, take the child to Egypt and remain there until I tell you ….” Now since “the Lord” also included that Herod would be searching for the child to destroy him, no one could possibly argue that Joseph or Mary took time to get passports, visas, or any other kind of “official” document. Also, there is no place in Scripture that says God provided them with “Let them into Egypt because I (The Lord God) Says So” papers.

In the Letter of James, an official inclusion in every New Testament, we find this: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27). Lots of us are looking pretty stained up right now.

You see, everyone one of us sits our basket down in the place where we make our lives with the words, “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor” (Deut 1:5), and we are even instructed to expect the alien in our lands and provide for them. Don’t remember? Check out Leviticus 19:9-10: When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not (that’s God form of non-negotiable clause, it seems to me) reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and alien: I am The Lord your God.

We are all wanderers. The land we claim to own is God’s. However delusional we may be, at best we borrow it. None of us takes it with us when we go. However much we may not like it, if we dare to claim ourselves Christian (or Jewish for that matter) we are blessed to be a blessing to others – particularly when it is inconvenient

For me this goes in the “Book of Not Hard Things to Figure Out.” If you keep them out, no matter the veil or rationale, then you have not done to the least of these. … And one day there will be a reckoning.

I invite you to write relevant elected and civil authorities, and use social media to send a clarion message: Let them in. Find a way. Do it with dignity, and hospitality.

God have mercy,