Yesterday Kyle dropped by my office to show me something in our guest registry. A couple of weeks ago a couple that had recently moved to the neighborhood visited us and signed the registry with their first and last names – their last name happened to be “White.” Just under that, the next visitor had signed her name – one that was recognizably Spanish in origin. Next to her name she added, “Hispanic.”
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, given that earlier this week the governor of Arizona signed into law a bill banning ethnic studies, just weeks after the state passed immigration enforcement measures that will undoubtedly rely on ethnic profiling in order to be implemented. Still, at least in the church, don’t we hold on to some semblance of the idea that “in Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north”?
This Sunday has been designated World Refugee Day by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). Each month LIRS helps to resettle 850 refugees in the United States who are fleeing persecutions of many kinds. This Sunday we also hear the story of a man possessed by demons and chained up among the graves outside a Gentile city whom Jesus heals and liberates. We are left to ponder what relationship there may be between the legions we chain outside the boundaries of our nation, and the God who speaks through the prophet Isaiah with words of warning to a nation that declares, “keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” (Isa. 65:5)
This Father’s Day we are reminded that the God who claims us and loves us as God’s own children, claims and loves all the peoples of the earth as God’s own children. How are we doing by our brothers and sisters?