Monday, July 13, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-What does love mean?

Last week, Reverend Dunlap searched for the biblical meaning of love at the Reflections of Solidarity shrine. Her reflection is posted below. As I read it, I was inspired to work towards policies that reflect love. I also thought about how I might embody love in my everyday life and actions, even when I'm tired or lacking energy.

Week Two Reflection, Don Juan Patraca
This week's reflection comes from Don Juan Manuel Patraca and is up at the shrine. His poetry describes trial and tribulation and answers whether love can stand the test of time and distance, whether love can sustain us through the worst of times and make us better people. In his poem La madre de un inmigrante-The mother of an immigrant Don Patraca begins this way:

I write you these lines hoping you are well from day to day
I find myself today as an immigrant in this strange country.

To read the rest and light your candle go to the shrine.

Week One Reflection, Pastor Anne Dunlap

Leviticus 19:34 "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."

Let’s cut to the chase: What, exactly, is loving about the way we treat “the alien” among us – the immigrant, the foreigner, the non-native who has left her/his own land because of war, starvation, disease, desperation, and travels to another in hopes to make a better life for her/his family (the meaning of the original Hebrew in this text)?

What, exactly, is loving about building steel walls across a borderline with the express intent to force migrants into the desert, sure that their deaths will be a deterrent to future migration?

What, exactly, is loving about slashing water bottles and shooting water tanks left for migrants so that they won’t die of thirst?

What, exactly, is loving about exploiting immigrant labor by neglecting to pay workers, by not providing for workplace safety, by threatening workers with deportation if they try to organize?

What, exactly, is loving about police harassment of families who contribute to the well-being of our communities?

What, exactly, is loving about workplace and home ICE raids that terrorize hard-working communities, that rip families apart, disappearing partners and parents into a detention system that provides for careless representation of immigrants at best, and no representation at worst? What is loving about leaving children behind with no support, wondering if they will ever see their parents again?

What, exactly, is loving about any of this?

This verse from Leviticus sums up the preponderance of biblical opinion regarding how faithful followers of God’s way are meant to treat the “alien:” just like yourself. The non-citizen should be treated just like the citizen, and be treated with love.

The ways in which God’s vision for the treatment of immigrants differs from current US reality – both in terms of policy and in terms of anti-immigrant sentiment and violence – is vast and hardly in need of repeating here. For those of us who are trying to be faithful to God’s way, God’s vision of communities filled with justice, dignity, and love, the reminder to “love the ‘alien’ as you love yourself” should be the touchstone of our work in solidarity with the immigrant community. For the person of faith, the question is not “What is legal and expedient?” but “What is faithful?”

And the answer to that question is always love.

Let us pray for comprehensive immigration reform that embodies love for the immigrant.

Rev. Anne Dunlap
Pastor, Comunidad LiberaciĆ³n/Liberation Community

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