God has called on Christians over the ages to welcome the stranger, but today our airwaves are filled with a narrative of exclusion and hate. We want to be a community who offers an alternative message–one of compassion and hospitality, in line with the teachings of Jesus. Last Sunday as part of our series on welcome, Rev. Orlando Gallardo, Associate Pastor of Trinity Community Church in Kansas City, KS, shared with us about his own journey as an immigrant in America. In 2012 he received a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) when President Obama signed the executive order, and is currently one of the DREAMers awaiting a response about the status of his application under the current administration. If you weren’t able to be with us, you can listen to his story on our podcast. To borrow from Rev. Orlando’s language, when it comes to welcoming people who are immigrants, “We follow the Law of Love.”
And as promised, we wanted to share some additional resources after our gathering! Rev. Orlando preached a related sermon for the congregation of Trinity Community Church in Kansas City, KS on March 26th titled, “Who Is My Neighbor?: Jews and Gentiles”. In this sermon he gave a biblical context for immigration and shared a reminder that if Ruth hadn’t come to Israel as an undocumented immigrant, we wouldn’t have King David and we wouldn’t have Jesus! Another great resource from the biblical/theological perspective is the book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition by Christine Pohl. And for those living in the Kansas City area, check out the group Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation (AIRR).
As for next steps, Orlando suggested that we work to build healthy relationships with both undocumented immigrants and police. He also said that paying bond for persons who get arrested can be helpful because it gives them the opportunity to get in contact with an immigration lawyer.
In closing, we reflect on these words from the “Migrant Beatitudes,” as found in the rich resource, “Sanctuary Vigil Liturgy: A bilingual guide to prayer in solidarity with our sisters & brothers in sanctuary,” compiled by Southside Presbyterian Church…
Blessed are those who consider no one a stranger or a foreigner in this world. Blessed are those who discriminate against none for their race, nor for their religious creed, nor for their sex, nor for their social, economic, or intellectual status. Blessed are those who empower the opening to the other before the temptation of the ghetto. Blessed are those who support the spirit of community in the face of individualism. Blessed are those to opt for personal commitment before so many forms of ineffective tolerance and hypocrisy. Blessed are those who, beyond the rich variety of languages that exist in this world, learn to communicate through the universal language of love. Blessed, and incredibly joyful will be you all, when you go through denunciation, the prophetic call and real commitment, and for this motive, call into question your personal prestige, run the risk of losing money up to the highest value in life, to take the responsibility that each one has according to the levels of privilege that we inhabit on earth.
Jornada Mundial del Emigrante y del Refugiado 2014