If we set aside politics and look at the immigration crisis using the Bible and our Baptismal Covenants as our guides, what might we be called to do? (Time: 6:19.)
This is Bishop Carlye Hughes of the Diocese of Newark and I want to talk with you today about the immigration crisis that our nation and that each of us as individuals are facing.
One of the things that I've been aware of is the conversation about this is dominated by politics, and it has turned into a political discussion, and for us as Christians and especially as Episcopalians we have sacred writings that guide how we work through things like we're working through. It has come to me again and again as I've listened to the conversation how important it is for us to put our political leanings to the side for a period of time and spend some time thinking like a Christian about how to respond and what we might be called to do and the actions that we might take.
I keep coming back to Matthew 25 starting at about the 31st verse. And I won't go through that whole passage with you, but the part that is very touching to me, is Jesus is talking to the people after he's tried to tell them that he's gonna go away forever and it's hard for them to understand that.
He talks to them about what it's going to be like when he comes back. When he comes back in the fullness of his ministry, in the fullness of his divinity, and the fullness of his glory. And one of the first things he will do is welcome people to be in that life with him. And he talks specifically about the people that he wants to welcome. He wants to welcome the people who fed him when he was hungry, who gave him something to drink when he was thirsty. He wants to welcome those who gave him clothes and shelter when he needed food and a place to stay, who visited him in jail. He wants to take care of those people that took care of him.
And the folks who are listening to him ask a very normal, simple question: "When did we do that for you? We have not seen you to do those things with you." It's a reasonable question, and his response is an unreasonable and outrageous response, and that is: "When you did any of these things for another person, you did it for me." And that is where we begin as Christians, is developing our ability to see Jesus in every other person. In the people we agree with and the people we disagree with, and most certainly right now, the people who are in distress. And if that weren't enough to guide us, for Episcopalians who have been baptized and confirmed, the words that we say in our Baptismal Covenant - and many of you have said those words multiple times in various services - of those specific five questions read like a primer of how to live that kind of life that Jesus was talking about, where we help those who are in need of help.
We said at that time of baptism and confirmation, that we would continue in the Apostles' teaching, and in the prayers and in the fellowship and then the breaking of the bread. We said we would persevere in resisting evil and whenever we fell into sin to repent and return to the Lord. And notice it doesn't say, "and IF you sin," it says, "WHEN you sin," that we will turn ourselves back over to the Lord. There's an expectation that that's going to happen.
We said we would proclaim by word and example of the good news of God in Christ. That people would be able to know something about who God is by the way we act and by the way we talk. We said that we would seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself. And then we said we would strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
I find for most Episcopalians we have one or two of those memorized by heart and it's helpful to go back and read all five of them, and to go back and read Matthew. And I want to invite you and encourage and urge you to do those kinds of things right now. To take care of your spiritual life, because it is the only way that you're going to stay connected to who you are as a Christian as this crisis goes on.
There are practical steps that all kinds of people are taking. You see in this particular issue of The VOICE about people who participated in the Lights for Liberty, a way to protest and to make their feelings known. Many of you have been in contact with your elected representatives and that needs to continue. There are organizations like RAICES and Episcopal Migration Ministries, and we will provide the link for you to those organizations so that you can take a closer look at them. They can let you know what you can do to be hands on. There are organizations that can use your excess air miles to help get pro bono attorneys down to places where representation is needed, and also can help reunite families.
There are steps that we're going to have to continue taking over and over and over again. And I am not saying ignore your political party or your political leanings. What I am saying, for a period of time, how about for the rest of this summer, make the priority your Christianity. How would you respond if that was Jesus? If that was Jesus as a child, if that was Jesus as a parent, if that was Jesus who was lost, if that was Jesus that was working with those people - how would you respond if that was Jesus?