Lent 2017: Weekend Reading and Action Plan
I am still reading the stories, still letting them sink into my bones. This Lenten practice has been so hard, and so good for me. There are so many things to be upset about, so many issues I want to engage with. But it always comes back to the people. My neighbors, be they near or far. Am I listening to them? Am I allowing their stories to change me?
I have been heartened to see and hear more coverage in regards to the Christian response to our undocumented brothers and sisters. Today I would like to highlight some of these readings, in the hopes that you will take the time over the weekend to read them and reflect.
CT has published this podcast on a conservative church which has become a sanctuary, and they also posted this wonderful interview with Alexia Salvatierra (done by Sarah Quezada). The interview especially is wonderful because the joy and perseverance of those involved in this work is made evidenced, despite the magnitude and nature of the suffering involved. My favorite quote is at the end, addressing the topic of burnout:
"When I was a missionary in the Philippines, I witnessed what I perceived to be incredible, ongoing heroism from believers living under a dictator. And I began to understand that their example was not necessarily incredible, ongoing heroism but the Christian life. We just are very soft, and we struggle to carry our crosses. People everywhere else in the world and throughout the ages know a lot more about that practice than we as American Christians do. But God is faithful, and our spirituality is deepened as it’s tested like gold."
Isn't that gorgeous?
I wanted to highlight another resource, this one coming from a pretty conservative background, the Christian Life Commission. I thought this PDF was a helpful way to view the complexities of this issue (I appreciate the interaction with Romans 13, for example). Here is a quote from the end:
"Immigration in the United States today presents a challenge to American Christians. The biblical message is clear about how we are to treat immigrants, but the Bible also implores us to respect law and this creates problems in relation to unauthorized immigration. It is possibly most helpful to remember that the whole world belongs to God. National boundaries, while useful for ordering society, are not part of God’s good creation but, rather, have emerged over time. God gave the whole world to the descendants of Adam and Eve, and God is working across those borders. People who cross national borders to flee from poverty and danger today are seeking the same things as earlier immigrants – opportunity and safety. They are our neighbors even if not authorized to be here, and they are in need. They are loved by God, and we can show that love to these new neighbors. The government of the United States needs to form appropriate policies to support national interests, but those of us who follow Christ can see a bigger picture – one of humanity and of the need to share and show the love of Christ."
Here is Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty commission (and everybody's favorite or least favorite southern baptist) writing about immigration a few years ago. I think it is a great response: "I’m amazed when I hear evangelical Christians speak of undocumented immigrants in this country with disdain as “those people” who are “draining our health care and welfare resources.” It’s horrifying to hear those identified with the gospel speak, whatever their position on the issues, with mean-spirited disdain for the immigrants themselves."
And here is Noel Castellanos, president of the Christian Community Development Association, writing about why the recent executive orders targeting immigrants is profoundly violates the principles of faithful Christians. It is also an excellent look at how widespread and damaging these policies are.
I hope to read more of these types of articles in the coming days. I hope to hear more and more Christians speak up about this issue, and specifically about how unjust and inhumane the recent policies regarding mass deportation are.
Action Step for the Weekend
After you read these articles (and others, I hope) take the time to contact your local representatives and give a heartfelt plea why we need to show hospitality to our neighbors and work for overhauling immigration and providing numerous more pathways for legal citizenship. I know that everyone says to contact your representatives but I have to be honest and say I am lazy and overworked and have never been good at this. But be creative and find a way that works for you! One of my friends sends hundreds of postcards (and even goes to parties where people write them together. Other people use the five calls app (it prompts you to do something like make five calls? IDK). For me, I found something that works and it is wonderful. It is called ResistBot and you use it to to write faxes to your representatives (which Resist Bot locates for you) all just by texting! It is so easy and so strangely satisfying--and better yet, it is free! Here is an example of a message I sent the other day:
This took about five minutes of my life and was sent to my two senators and my state representative. Easy peasey--So this weekend, find a way to contact people in power and advocate for our undocumented neighbors. If I can do it, then truly anyone can.
As always, if you have any articles or resources or apps to share, please do so in the comments. Thanks for journeying along with me this Lenten season.