#DefendDACA #Sanctuary

I’m not sure that it’s “standard blog behavior” to share the writings of others. But I feel so passionately about how we #WelcomeTheStranger that I thought, as we enter this #AdventSeason that commemorates a holy family of #Refugees, you might indulge me. Thank you Tracey for your powerful words! Peace, Joe

#Sanctuary #DefendDACA New from the UCC’s #WitnessForJustice program:
 
Issue# 868 November 20, 2017
#WelcomeTheStranger Without Caveats or Conditions
Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey
Minister of Congregational & Community Engagement
 
As a longtime advocate for just immigration reform, I have been following and amplifying the call for a clean Dream Act. When President Trump ended the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), 800,000 young people became vulnerable to deportation. I believe we are called to be people of justice and mercy, recognizing the violence and crisis driving the global movement of people, but I also believe the Dreamers benefit our communities and that we need them to help us make a more just and beautiful world. I want them to stay for multiple reasons. Congress must pass a legislative solution very soon for that to be possible. It is an urgent matter, which is why I recently shared an update on this issue from a young Dreamer on social media using the hashtag, #HereToStay.
 
A social media “friend” of mine, someone I have not spoken to in years but with whom I went to high school, commented on the hashtag writing, “yes, they can stay if they immigrate legally like my grandparents did from Sweden.” Swedish flag emojis and exclamation marks followed. People of privilege often make the assumption that what worked for them or their family must be possible for everyone. However, our immigration policy and history is full of racism, exclusion and economic preference, all written into law.
 
The policies, economics and history driving different groups of people to our country are complex and interconnected. But as people of faith, the just and right response is simple and clear: welcome the stranger and care for the immigrant. It is a clarion call throughout scripture. There are no caveats made, no conditions that if the stranger is only a first-generation arrival, then we don’t have to welcome or care for them; or if they are an immigrant with brown or black skin they can be treated differently than immigrants of European descent. Our call is simple, recognize humanity; welcome and care for humanity.
 
Advent is right around the corner and with it the reminder that Jesus was born a refugee fleeing state violence. King Herod, feeling threatened and angry that another “king” was being born, ordered all children two years old and under killed. Who could inflict such massive violence and suffering in the name of protecting their own power? Was the messaging spun that this was for the safety and wellbeing of all? And yet, this story unfolds here and now too. The threat of mass deportation by our politicians amounts to more than just words. It has been accompanied by a surge in ICE raids and propaganda painting all immigrants as threats to the nation’s economy and security.
 
We must lift our voices. We must be lights shining against this darkness. All of our humanity is at stake.
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Thanksgiving–A Time To Remember Who We Are

 

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It probably won’t surprise you to know that Thanksgiving has always been a holiday of mixed blessings for me.

Back in College, the sheer gluttony of the Thanksgiving meal tore me apart as I wrestled with my sense of vocation and, particularly, my exposure to the Catholic Worker movement and others who were living out their faith daily, providing food and shelter to the materially poor.

While at Divinity School I even took a few Thanksgiving’s “off” as I struggled with the concept of being thankful for so much abundance when I knew my new-found friends in Korea, Mexico, and even parts of New Haven would be going hungry that night.

And for seven years in Italy I was conflicted… torn between wanting to share “the best” of the U.S. Holiday Season with my foreign-born daughter and the Refugees through whom I first encountered IPM. We’d travel the countryside to find the right “bird” and those shared meals in the basement of an Episcopal Church in the heart of Rome taught me something very special about what it means to be thankful in a world where so many are left longing.

When I returned to the States full time Thanksgiving was certainly a welcome break from the workweek, but it also provided an opportunity for service and shared sustenance. In fact, helping to prepare a meal for the less fortunate was rewarding to me in a way that a meal replete with political and religious argument among an extended family never quite cut it.

But in the past sixteen+ years with IPM I’ve found a new appreciation for the Holiday just as I have bristled at it’s false retelling of a founding myth. Thanksgiving has become for me, my immediate family, my faith community, and the IPM Family across the USA, an unique, annual opportunity to step back, count our blessings, and redouble our efforts to make a difference in the world.

We, who live in these United States, do have much to be thankful for. Yes, we live in difficult times for sure. Yes, we seem to be increasingly divided by class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. The extent of our Partisan divide and the rancor that goes along with can be troubling at times, debilitating at its worst.

But there is also a spirit at work in the communities where I spend most of my time. At IPM, at worship, with my students and friends: I can’t help but feel a sense that something is changing. That all the negativity is making us realize how much there is to be positive about. That all the rancor can help us recall just how good it can feel to find a compromise. That all the hate in the world can’t squelch my deepest belief that hope and love ultimately win.

So as you and those you love head off for this Thanksgiving Holiday I’d ask that you keep IPM in your prayers, that you consider the type of year-end gift you can make to truly make a difference in our work around the world, and that you will take the time to slow down and remind yourself just what brought you into relationship with this IPM Family. Give yourself the gift of knowing—even if for only a moment—that your partnership with us makes all the difference in the world.

Best wishes for a joyful and peace-filled Thanksgiving Holiday!

Peace, Joe