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July 3rd Meditation

The place of welcome on our Independence Day.



“You shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation.” Deuteronomy 26:5

 

“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:34

 

“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25: 35

 

         We celebrate our Independence Day tomorrow. The Puritan desire of the early Pilgrims was a country where people were free to worship as they saw fit, and such is worked into the fabric of our nation. It is one of my many favorite things about our country. Such a belief is fed from our faith ancestors as evidenced in the scriptures and the story of Israel.

         The Hebrew scriptures record the faith story from our ancestor Abraham. We have a long biblical narrative where they were wanderers, refugees, and strangers in foreign lands. God raised up a nation from a scattered people. I have descended from immigrants who came to this country for the same promises of life and prosperity which were sought in the biblical story. Most of our ancestors came to our country looking for a better life due to harsh conditions in native countries.

Our faith comes from a people who traveled to new places for the promises of abundant life. They were not always welcome or received well. Due to the inhospitality, they received, God worked into The Torah the words from above.  Our faith history reminds us, God expects people of faith to be hospitable to the alien among us and to the indigenous who reside with us.

         How we receive the stranger, alien and immigrant is a reflection not only of national commitment but of faith commitment. How we appreciate and respect the indigenous peoples whose history far exceeds Europeans is also of upmost reflection of our faith. Our religious faith and our national pride should be compatible and intertwined. We cannot say we love Jesus and not find a way to welcome one another. Such is an incompatible belief. Such goes against story of our faith.

         A reflection of this belief is also seen on the words engraved below the Statue of Liberty. Words which speak, like our scriptures, of welcome to those in need. May we strive to live up to promise of God and the ideals of our nation this holiday. This is a poem worth reading as part of our celebration.

 

The New Colossus 

by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMother of Exiles. From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries sheWith silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

 

Happy 4th of July,

Rev. Wendy

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