The deplorable executive orders issued by the president over the past week, in particular the ban on Muslims from traveling into the United States, do not exemplify Christian principles and values. As members of the Christian community, we cannot sit idly by and allow the president to defraud the moralities of our faith or use them to wear down the principles of a democratic society.
Rev. Daryl K. Kearney, pastor of Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hyattsville, Md.
The United States is a multi-cultural nation that was and still is being built by the hands of immigrants.
The reality is unless we are of Native American descent, we are all immigrants in this country. Some, like our ancestors, were driven from their homeland and forced into slavery, while others came of their own free will; many seeking religious freedom.
When one looks at the birth of Jesus we are clearly reminded that Jesus himself was a refugee. Jesus, a Jew born in Bethlehem under the colonial oppression of Rome, along with his family fled to Egypt because of King Herod’s “executive order” to have all male children killed. One of the greatest sermons that Jesus ever preached, the Good Samaritan, should inform our views on immigration. In this short story Jesus challenges us to minister beyond the boundaries of our own self-existence. The “neighbor” in Luke’s parable serves as a metaphorical bridge between identity and difference. A hermeneutic of hospitality commands community where care is offered to this “certain man” who is not characterized by race, religion, or region.
I want to lift the same question found in the Luke’s gospel; “Who is our neighbor?” The current governmental leadership will say to us that the undocumented immigrant, the Muslim refugee, and the Latino/a immigrant are not our neighbors. Nevertheless, the love of God has no bounds. Jesus explains “neighbor” as any person irrespective of race or religion with whom we may come in contact. This parable shatters the stereotypes of social boundaries and class division and destroys any system that hinders one from being hospitable to any sojourner realizing that we too were once immigrants.
What should be the church’s response to immigration and/or reaching out to our multi-cultural communities? It is impossible to respond lovingly and prophetically to communities where persons have come seeking refuge and justices without seeing the value and the worth that is within them.
They too were created by the hands of God and the death of Jesus was an act of love not just for America, but for the entire world. The love of God looks beyond race, stereotypes, and prejudices. In no other arena is the possibility for inclusive community more pregnant than among the churches that make up the body of Christ. The church, to be true to Christ and to our faith, must be a visible sign of the “beloved community.” We must recognize that our immigrant brothers and sisters are in search of meaning, care, and love in the same ways that we are.
Rev. Daryl K. Kearney has over 20 years in pastoral ministry. He serves as pastor of Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hyattsville, Md. and is a doctoral candidate at Payne Theological Seminary.