By: Rev. Noel Anderson, UCC and Church World Service Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrants’ Rights
“Educators, organizers, artists, athletes, intellectuals — everyday people — can play a major role in introducing ways of imagining the future that are not tethered to the notion that only the police can be effective guarantors of safety and that prisons alone can assure the security of people who populate the ‘free’ world.” – Angela Davis
There are more refugees and internally displaced people in our world today than any other time in history according to the United Nations. At a record 100 million people, that number will only grow as climate change brings more devastation that will force people out of their homelands. As migration increases, our opportunities to practice hospitality also increase. This moment in the history of our world calls us to commit our energy and imagination to discovering new ways to welcome, embrace, support, and create belonging and flourishing with those who have been displaced. What if we were waiting – wisely and patiently – for our migrant and refugee kin, like the farmer awaits the precious crop in this scripture passage? What if we knew that this waiting – this persistence that understands what is needed for flourishing – was waiting for God to draw near?
Yet instead, the U.S. and many other countries have responded to this moment with increased detention, border militarization, expulsions and deportations. Border Patrol is the largest law enforcement agency in the country and a vast network of detention centers holds over thirty thousand displaced people each day. As we watched horrific images of Border Patrol whipping Haitian asylum seekers from horseback in Del Rio Texas, the connection was evident: attempts to keep out Black and Brown bodies are inseparable from the history of white supremacy in this country. Fear and scarcity, nationalism and xenophobia, continue to be enslaving systems that call for new ways to imagine freedom. This moment offers us the opportunity to strengthen our hearts, as the author of this epistle suggests, so that we might be preparing a welcome for the divine-image-bearers who draw near. Let each action we take be like the rain the farmer knows is needed to bring our abolition dreams to life and bear the fruit of a just world for all.
Holy One, who is always coming near,
we long for freedom for all of your people,
especially your people on the move.
We wait for a day where no border or jail can separate us
from the love we share with one another
and the welcome we are called to embody.
Strengthen our hearts:
empower us to be bold and courageous
as we work together towards decarceration, abolition and freedom for all. Amen.
Artwork: “To All Our Relations” by Yohana Junker (discover more at: https://www.yohanajunker.com/)
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