Friday, December 01, 2017

DE Ponderings

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” —John 18:36-37(NRSV)

I wonder what the experience of life is like for someone who is from another country living in the United States today. I have assumptions which are based on what I hear and read in the news, understand from articles in periodicals and on the internet, and learn from books. The bottom-line: my assumptions are troubling. With the increased attention given to immigration laws and concerns, I imagine fear is a common life experience. Fear of prejudicial treatment. Fear of persecution. Fear of being the other. Fear of finding a job. Fear of profiling. Fear of deportation.

Jesus made known that his kingdom was not of this world. Such a proclamation indicated his “immigrant” status not in a specific country but in this world. From the stories of Jesus available to us, we can readily discern the difficulty he endured as a result of his other-kingdom citizenship. Yet he boldly proclaimed that he came into this world for a purpose, i.e., to testify to the truth. Jesus persevered in this purpose regardless of the difficulties he faced.

My prayer is for immigrants among us to live boldly with the truth they testify to with their lives and living. I hope for their ability to live courageously and confidently in the truth of being an image of their creator, of being caretakers of creation, of having equitable human value, of having resilience to contribute to the welfare of the place where they live (see Jeremiah 29:4-14).

In this Advent/Christmas season as we remember and celebrate the revelation of God among us through the birth of Jesus, and the wonder and impact of it all, it may be an appropriate time to remember and celebrate the wonder and impact of the immigrants’ presence among us. How are we surprised by their presence? How are we encouraged and called to be a better people (more accepting, more open, more respectful) because the immigrant shares life among us?

Jesus, the ultimate immigrant, came to bring peace, joy, love, and hope. Let’s find it in our hearts to accept the peace, joy, love and hope that immigrants today bring to us.