A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

immigrants, emigrants, and welcoming the stranger

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 11, 2007

I subscribe to a daily reflection called “Forward Day by Day”, available through www.forwardmovement.org. As someone who often feels myself to be going backwards, I find these reflections strong, rather than insipid, and very much food for thought.

Today’s reflection struck me particularly for its currency. I spent much of my time as a stranger abroad, though not an immigrant and certainly not (for th emost part) an unwelcome one. Consequently, when I return to the states I realize how much incremental change I have missed.

I met my aunt Intlxpatr for coffee in a Seattle suburb at the end of December – we had work to do to prepare for my grandfather’s memorial. As I pulled into the mall’s parking lot, I noticed a group of men standing in the middle, away from the shops. It was a bitterly cold (well, at least for those of us with Mediterranean-ized blood) morning – not a day to stand about and soak up the sunshine.

I realized who they were, and that I have seen similar groups in downtown Seattle, in suburban Boston, and even in suburban Des Moines. These are our strangers, our unwelcome others, waiting patiently in hopes of a better life. I think of them when I think of Syrian laborers in Lebanon, underpaid and abused when their accents and tell-tale coloring give them away, and when I think of the many Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, and Sri Lankan laborers in the Gulf.

This is today’s reflection:

Ephesians 2:11-22. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.

As I write, there is much political controversy about the vast number of illegal immigrants in this country—whether to expel them from the country and to increase security at our borders, or to recognize how much the service economy depends on their labor and so offer them status as guest workers on the European model.

Questions like these have haunted this nation of immigrants in every generation. They are questions that also haunt the scriptures—whether in the Old Testament’s concern for strangers and aliens in the land of Israel, or, as in this passage from Ephesians, in the New Testament’s radical expansion of the household of God to include both Jews and Gentiles, both slave and free. Such a call to what Paul elsewhere names a new commonwealth of faith was as difficult for these first Christians to accept as it is for us. The ethnic, political, and economic boundaries that separate us seem often so much stronger than the bonds of love that unite us. Paul’s insistent embrace of the stranger makes these scriptures as revolutionary now as they must have been to their first hearers so many centuries ago, and as challenging to us as they were to them.

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4 Responses to “immigrants, emigrants, and welcoming the stranger”

  1. Hi.
    Guest worker programs may not be necessary.
    Only time seperates the union of the three North American neighbors into a conglomerate of social, political and economic unity forming what just might be called Mexamericanada.

    So, no plea for love and acceptance of illegal aliens is necessary anymore. Open borders will be the law of the land and I wish to thank you for your support in this matter.

    Have a nice day.

  2. What an interesting proposition – a North American version of the EU. The idea is entirely new to me – does it have any support, grassroots or otherwise?

    I wonder in particular how receptive Canadians would be – I imagine that at times they feel themselves already on the verge of being swallowed by the United States’ economic, political, and military policies.

  3. How would you like to live in something called Mexamericanada?

    I only hope that what seems to be international support for this idea is not brought to reality in my lifetime. Theres something bigger than myself that I would lose if my nation was homogenized with others.

    There is a wealth of info regarding this on the web. I’ve read reports that negotiations are clandestine between the three governments.

    I opined about this possibility on my blog as well.

    Thanks for commenting. =;-)

  4. Intlxpatr said

    I remember seeing those same laborers in front of the Home Depot, hoping someone will need them for a day of back-breaking work. The strength of our country is built on people like these, who still come, looking for a better life. And get it.

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