Friendly Reminder: How to Treat Refugees

Friendly Reminder: How to Treat Refugees

muslim-girlsThe Christ-like response to refugees:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

~ Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)

 

The American response to immigrants:

statue-of-liberty

Reminder: America prides itself on the first immigrants  ‘found’ this already inhabited country.

Do you need help resetting your automatic response to refugees?

Find out how:

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

American Civil Liberties Union ACLU

ACLU: We’ll See You in Court: Why Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees Violates the Establishment Clause

This is what Democracy looks like!

Inequality: The Rich Man, Lazarus, the Dogs and Me

Love All PeopleLuke 16:19-21

Inequality surrounds our daily journey.

There was a rich man dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day (v 19)

Inequality is in our homes, at our doorstep, neighborhood, community, country and world.

At his gate laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. (v 19-20)

The disparity between the poor and rich is not new. No one can claim to live in a land of equality.  Jesus identified Lazarus as anyone who falls to the bottom of the equality pyramid – the least, the lost, the last and the left out:

  • Economic equality
  • Racial equality
  • Ethnic equality
  • Gender equality
  • Age equality
  • Marriage equality
  • Education equality

Inequality leaves Lazarus homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, a stranger and in prison. It is easy for the rich man to put on blinders to navigate around or step over Lazarus.

While there are times and ways that I have fallen to the bottom of the pyramid, I am more like the rich man. I have a home, too much to eat (ask my scale), much to drink, clothes, medical insurance, family, friends and freedom.

The rich man is anyone who feels they are blessed by God and Lazarus is cursed.  We are the rich man when we feel superior to Lazarus and not equal to him.

The rich man is anyone who doesn’t believe they have any responsibility to interfere with the social order of things; or anyone who fears the result to their loved ones ‘inheritance” with no regard to Lazarus and his family. The rich man asks, “Who are we to interfere?”

Even the dogs came and licked his sores (v 21).

The dogs lick Lazarus’ wounds but also enjoy the scraps from the masters table.  They don’t do anything to change the social inequality.  The dogs enjoy the things as they are.

Who are the dogs?

The Church with me included is the dogs.  We collect and send a daily ration of food, clothing, water and other stuff.  We make Lazarus dependent upon us for his daily needs.  We are the dogs when we feel superior to Lazarus and not equal to him.  We are the dogs when fail to seek equality for Lazarus:

  • we don’t listen to Lazarus when he is young or old
  • we vote to cut services to Lazarus
  • we don’t support equal pay for Lazarus
  • we don’t support a proper education for Lazarus
  • we worry more for the rich man’s pocket than Lazarus’ health
  • we don’t greet Lazarus the stranger
  • we reject Lazarus the immigrant
  • we look away or blame Lazarus when raped
  • we don’t seek justice when Lazarus is shot unarmed
  • we don’t treat Lazarus’ body with respect
  • we tell Lazarus who he can marry, where he can live, who he must worship (or not) and what he can enjoy.

We are the dogs when we fail to invite Lazarus to our table to be a part of our family.  Amen.

 

Related Links:

Blog Action Day

#inequality #BAD2014 #Bad14 #BlogAction14

The Many Colors of Love

Rainbow Cross

Dear Idaho, Kansas, ArizonaUganda

Proverbs 3:29
Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.

Please gracious Lord give us courage to love our neighbor.  

Inspire us to live by faith and not in fear – to act as the good Samaritan – not the victim, not the priests and especially not the robbers of your grace.

Jesus, teach us by your example – the greatest religious freedom is the freedom to love our neighbors without judgement, prejudice or discrimination.

Guide me to lay down my foolish attitudes so I can love my neighbor just as you laid down your life for me.

Help us to get through this storm, grant us peace to share your rainbow of LOVE. Amen

Taxes for God’s Servants

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.     Romans 13:6NIV

Lord, this verse is such an incredible testimony and pill to swallow.  Jesus encouraged us to pay taxes knowing these taxes would pay the salary of the government soldiers who would kill him. And for many of us, taxes are painful!

This daily verse was a good reminder to stop coveting money.  It belongs to the government because it has their seal.

Help me Lord to always be thankful and respectful of government employees and leaders.  Help me become a joyful citizen and taxpayer.  I am thankful for the roads, the defense and the care provided by the government. The government is often the first responder.  They feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless and heal the sick. They do your work. Help me become a joyful giver!  Help my Christian friends and me remember that we give you glory when we pay taxes.  Help me to see you in our government servants and to work to help protect them and their jobs!  Amen!

Wicked

In arrogance the wicked hunts down the weak, The wicked blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. The wicked does not seek God; There is no room for God in the thoughts of the wicked. Their mouth is full of lies and threats; The wicked watch in secret for victims; like a lion in cover lying in wait to catch the helpless; The wicked catches the helpless and drags them off. Victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.  Psalm 10

Wicked!  I’ll say it again – WICKED!  I’m trying to stir up the evil this word should provoke, but I’ve seen the musical so many times, the word has been stripped of its evil edge.

I have so much trouble with this word.  I don’t know why.  As a repeated victim, I’ve met evil so why am I surprised when it hits me again and again?  I often forget that wicked isn’t just a word reserved for witches on Halloween or that wicked isn’t just another word for sin.  Satan is so crafty at luring me into a Pollyanna stupor denying the existence of evil.  I skip through life, feeling safe and carefree and all of a sudden POUNCE!  I’m face to face with evil!

Satan is real!  As I type, the east coast is under siege.  Hurricane Sandy 2012 “Frankenstorm” is threatening our safety, ready to crush the helpless – wicked! Is it an act of God or the devil? I don’t know.

Like most, when confronted by wickedness, I wrestle with God and not the devil. I pray like the psalmist for God to save me or the victim of violence.  I know I don’t have the courage or strength to beat Satan.

Most struggle with God because very few believe in Satan. Why? The Bible confirms the existence of evil. Most agree rape, incest and bullying are wicked but Satan keeps us all in such a state of denial that when it occurs we try to explain it away – blame the victim or make excuses for the perpetrator. Many well-meaning anti-rape and anti-bullying efforts continue to keep the responsibility on the victim by advising the victim to stand up to their bullies or just ignore them which usually escalates the problem.

If rapists and bullies aren’t wicked? Who is wicked? Is wicked just another name for sin? Our scripture text states otherwise – the wicked revile God. The wicked abuse, hate, condemn and despise God.  They do not seek God.  They lie and threaten.  Do these scriptures help us find and rid our world of evil?

There are dangers in declaring the wicked.  The Bible warns that the wicked will plot against the righteous. Christ was accused of being a demon (wicked), he was killed because he was a threat.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible portrays the risks of seeking the wicked. Many innocents died during the Salem witch hunts and many others were imprisoned during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s.  History seems determined to repeat itself.

While society remains silent about rape and bullying, society eagerly calls other acts wicked and has no trouble rallying large groups to rid our world of the evils of homosexuality and abortion. In the past few months the church has become a place of division, hatred and anger.  A few members of the church have become so passionate in their beliefs that they are bullying others, calling fellow sisters evil or wicked for defending (loving) homosexuals or expressing compassion for abortion victims. The bible does not give any member of the church the ability to declare the salvation of another. God thankfully is the only judge with Christ as our advocate.

I believe life begins at conception and I believe abortions make everyone a victim (mom, baby, doctor etc…).  As a church we should intervene with love by providing support and help for mothers with unwanted pregnancies to find or create a safe, nurturing home for their babies.

As for same sex marriage, I don’t see how it threatens my marriage.  Nor am I able to find any biblical justification to pronounce their sins greater than mine. Christ didn’t declare homosexuals wicked and the few anti-homosexual scriptures all admonish violent sexual behavior –rape!

I don’t presume to know God’s position about either issue. I have too many boards hanging out of my own eyes to judge anyone else.

But I am sure about what God calls me to do.  In all four gospels, Jesus commands me to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 10, John 15)

And a message to the disruptive:

We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down.  2 Thessalonians 3:11-12

And finally, a message for the Wicked:

The Lord laughs at the wicked,

for God knows their day is coming. Psalm 37: 13

Dear Lord thank you for your love.  Make your church a safe gathering place for everyone to worship you! Help me to love my neighbor. Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.   Be with and wipe every tear of my sisters raped, bullied or abused! Do not give the wicked the last laugh. Amen.