Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sermon Preached at Prayer Service for Immigration Reform

In the first book of the Bible called Genesis God speaks to Abraham and says, “Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation.”
God calls people to leave where they are and go and make new community.

God called Abraham and Sarah.

God called Moses.

God called Joshua.

God called the judges.

God called the kings.

God called the exiles.

For Christians God sent Jesus and called the apostles and Paul and the first followers whose names are recorded in the books of the New Testament.

God calls.

God beckons.

God makes new community.

My family came from England and from Ireland. One almost drowned along the way, others made the journey with ease. All faced life threatening and life giving challenges in a new world. All of them faced a nation that promised new life regardless of the cost of arriving or the cost of staying on these shores.

They came with hope for a future and for something better for their life. Many believed that God had in store for them better things.

Perhaps your parents came too or you came. You and I have arrived here today because the mother of exiles, these United States, promises: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

We are, as the author Jon Meacham has writen, a nation that believes in God and believes in providence; the working out of God’s plan.

We know that God invites, God beckons, God calls out to his people and says: “Go to the land that I will show you.” We know this because we have experienced it ourselves.

God has called us, beckoned us into community.

God is constantly renewing the face of the earth. God is constantly doing his work through the efforts of his holy people. People called to work together, hand in hand, beyond the divisions of homeland and language, for the betterment of creation.

God intends us to be built into a virtuous society, a society who works for the benefit of all of God’s people and not ourselves alone.

When the followers of God have journeyed out into the deserts of life they have called upon God, do not forget us. And, I say God does not forget.

God does not forget his tired, his poor.

God does not forget his huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

God does not forget the fearful or the anxious.

God does not forget the fallen.

And, God does not forget the imprisoned.

God does not forget. God does not turn his eyes away. God remembers his people and their journey. God does not forget, God remembers you and he remembers me.

And when God looks down upon us and sees us in our lives calling out for him. God answers. And, there are many ways in which God answers. One of the ways in which God answers his faithful people calling out to him for rescue and to be saved is to send others.

Did not God send Moses to his people in Egypt? Did not God send Isaiah to comfort his people in Babylon? Do you and I not remember the names of those who God has sent to us to call us by name, to offer us the hand of God, and to lift us out of the dirt and ashes of our broken lives? You and I remember their names.

Those saints of God are generations of immigrants who have gone before us and were not content for their own success. When others arrived they remembered their experience and choose not to act out of fear but to help our immigrant fathers and mothers find their way in a strange land. They did this, these saints of God, because they heard the words of Isaiah calling: help the oppressed.

They heard the words of God speaking to their hearts saying: you were once a stranger in a strange strange land. You remember and you are called by God, this is what our immigrant fathers and mothers heard, you are called to help people into society with dignity, and respect. You are to help them become part of your national family…for they are part of my family -- the family of God.

Immigrants have always built up this nation and benefited us as a nation and as people of faith, by bringing their willingness to hard work, their entrepreneurial spirit, their diverse cultures, and their ethnic foods. Our culture is an immigrant culture.

It is true that immigrants are being demonized today because people are afraid of changing demographics, economic anxiety, border violence, because the system is broken.

These fears are not new fears. They are the same fears that greeted the Irish when they arrived. These are the same fears that greeted the Asians as they arrived. Today these fears greet the immigrant Hispanics, the new Africans, the islanders, and those from the Middle East.

God has never asked us to act out of our fear. God has always called us to act on behalf of the newcomer and the stranger. We know what we must do. We must on God’s behalf see one another as immigrant brother and sister – as family.

We are advocating and praying for reform because we are God’s family.

We are simply advocating for family unity.

We are advocating for reform that allows documentation of immigrants and their families with a path to citizenship.

We are advocating for affordable process.

We are advocating for an environment where people are safe in their community no matter what their legal status is; and that they have the ability to work with our civic authorities to provide for healthy communities.

We are advocating that policies should respect human rights by beginning with humanitarian values. We are advocating that we respect the dignity of all persons.

We are simply saying that we have a moral obligation to provide refuge and to welcome the stranger.

You and I have a responsibility to remember that we were once strangers in a strange land and that we are called by God to care for those now sent into our care.

We must do this because we understand that they represent God. The immigrant and the immigration issues we face today are our greatest challenge as a nation. How we answer the questions posed and the advocacy required will show what we are truly made of.

At the end of the day we can have great slogans, great beliefs, and even be one of the most powerful and greatest nations in the world.

If we do not help people find freedom and liberty…and we do not do this with kindness, and hospitality and love then we may loose the heart of our nation. Indeed, we will have lost the heart of all of our faiths combined.

It is God that calls us into a diverse community, a family of God. It is upon God’s mercy and providence that we depend. And, it is upon God’s call to help the stranger that we discover our journey into God’s kingdom.

God spoke to Abram and said, “Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation.”


by The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Preached at Immigration Reform Prayer Service, Catholic Charismatic Center, Houston, Texas

Hear the sermon preached in Spanish, with the last 1/4 in English  here:  http://www.adoyle.libsyn.com/

News following the Immigration Service:
http://www.39online.com/news/local/kiah-religious-leaders-immigration-reform-story,0,3910843.story

http://www.click2houston.com/video/23811580/index.html

http://www.khou.com/home/Interfaith-prayer-service-focuses-on-immigration-reform-95739914.html

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/immigration/7039827.html

Pide a Dios a su pueblo: Ir a la tierra que yo te voy a mostrar. (Génesis 12:1-7)

En el primer libro de la Biblia llamado Génesis, Dios habla a Abraham y le dice: "Deja tu tierra, tu familia y tus parientes para ir a la tierra que yo te voy a mostrar. Con tus descendientes voy a formar una gran nación; voy a bendecirte y hacerte famoso y serás una bendición para otros. "

Dios llama a la gente a salir de donde están y que vayan y hagan una nueva comunidad.

Dios llamó a Abraham y Sara.

Dios llamó a Moisés.

Dios llamó a Josué.

Dios llamó a los jueces.

Dios llamó a los reyes.

Dios llamó a los exiliados.

Para los cristianos Dios envió a Jesús y llamó a los apóstoles y Pablo y los primeros seguidores, cuyos nombres se registran en los libros del Nuevo Testamento.

Dios llama.

Dios nos llama con señas.

Dios hace nueva comunidad.

Mi familia vino de Inglaterra y de Irlanda. Uno casi se ahogó en el camino, los demás hicieron el viaje con facilidad. Todos enfrentaron amenazas y desafíos en la vida que da un nuevo mundo. Todos ellos enfrentaron una nación que prometía una nueva vida sin importar el precio de como llegaron y los gastos de permanecer en estas tierras.

Llegaron con la esperanza de un futuro y por algo mejor para su vida. Muchos creían que Dios tenía reservado para ellos cosas mejores.

Tal vez los padres de ustedes llegaron o usted mismo llegó. Ustedes y yo hemos llegado hasta aquí porque la Madre de los exiliados, los Estados Unidos, promete: "Dame tus cansados, tus pobres, tus grupos confundidos que ansían un libre respirar."

Somos, como el autor Jon Meacham, que tiene la creencia de que una nación que cree en Dios y cree en la providencia, esta trabajando en el plan de Dios.

Sabemos que Dios invita, Dios nos envía señales, Dios llama a su pueblo y dice: "Ve a la tierra que te voy a mostrar." Lo sabemos porque lo hemos experimentado nosotros mismos.

Dios nos ha llamado, nos envía señales en la comunidad.

Dios está constantemente renovando la faz de la tierra. Dios está constantemente haciendo su trabajo a través de los esfuerzos de su pueblo santo. Personas llamadas a trabajar juntos, mano a mano, más allá de las divisiones de la nacionalidad y el idioma, para el mejoramiento de la creación.

Dios tiene la intención de que seamos incorporado en una sociedad virtuosa, una sociedad que trabaja para el beneficio de todo el pueblo de Dios y no solo para nosotros mismos.

Cuando los seguidores de Dios han viajado a través de los desiertos de la vida y han clamado a Dios, no te olvides de nosotros. Yo les dijo, Dios no olvida.

Dios se no olvida su cansancio os sus pobres.

Dios no se olvida de las multitudes que ansían respirar libertad.

Dios no olvida de los que tienen miedo, o sus ansiedades.

Dios no se olvida de los caídos.

Y, Dios no se olvida de los cautivos.

Dios no se olvida. Dios no voltea la mirada al otro lado. Dios recuerda a su pueblo y de sus viajes. Dios no se olvida, Dios se acuerda de ustedes y se acuerda de mí.

Y cuando Dios nos contempla y nos ve en nuestras vidas gritando por él. Dios contesta. Y, hay muchas formas en que Dios contesta. Una de las formas en que Dios responde a su pueblo fiel que clama ser rescatado y salvado es enviando a otros.

¿Acaso Dios no envío a Moisés a su pueblo en Egipto? ¿Acaso Dios no envío a Isaías a consolar a su pueblo en Babilonia? ¿A caso ustedes y yo no recordamos los nombres de aquellos que Dios ha enviado a nosotros para que nos llamen a cada uno por nuestro nombre, que nos han ofrecido la mano de Dios, y que nos han levantado de la tierra y cenizas de nuestras vidas rotas? Ustedes y yo recordamos sus nombres.

Esos santos de Dios son generaciones de inmigrantes que nos han precedido y que optaron por ayudar, no por temor, sino que ayudaron a nuestros padres y madres inmigrantes a encontrar su camino en una tierra extraña. Ellos hicieron esto, porque estos santos de Dios, habían oído las palabras del llamado de Isaías: ayuda a los oprimidos.

Escucharon las palabras de Dios hablar en sus corazones diciendo: una vez fuiste un extranjero en tierra extraña. Recuerda que eres llamado por Dios, esto es lo que nuestros padres y madres inmigrantes oyeron, ustedes están llamados a ayudar a las personas a formar la sociedad con dignidad y respeto. Ustedes están para ayudarles a formar parte de esta nación ... porque ellos son parte de mi familia - la familia de Dios.

Los inmigrantes hoy en día y siempre han construido esta nación y nos han beneficiado como nación y como comunidad de fe, trayendo su voluntad de trabajar duro, el espíritu emprendedor, sus diversas culturas y sus comidas típicas. Nuestra cultura es una cultura inmigrante.

Es cierto que hoy los inmigrantes están siendo comparados con el demonio porque la gente tiene miedo de los cambios demográficos, de la ansiedad económica, de la violencia en la frontera, porque el sistema de inmigración está roto.

Estos temores no son nuevos temores. Son los mismos temores que recibieron a los irlandeses cuando llegaron. Estos son los mismos temores que saludó a los asiáticos cuando llegaron. Hoy en día estos temores saludan a los inmigrantes hispanos, los nuevos africanos, los isleños, y los del Oriente Medio.

Dios nunca nos ha pedido que actuemos por nuestro miedo. Dios siempre nos ha llamado para actuar en nombre del recién llegado y el extranjero. Sabemos lo que debemos hacer. Debemos de parte de Dios vernos unos a otros como hermanos y hermanas inmigrantes - como la familia.

Estamos defendiendo y orando por una reforma porque somos la familia de Dios.

Simplemente estamos abogando por la unidad familiar.

Estamos abogando por una reforma que permita la documentación de los inmigrantes y sus familias en un camino a la ciudadanía.

Estamos abogando por un proceso económico accesible.

Estamos abogando por un ambiente donde las personas estén a salvo en su comunidad sin importar su estatus legal, y que tengan la capacidad de trabajar con nuestras autoridades civiles para establecer comunidades saludables.

Estamos abogando por que esas leyes deben respetar los derechos humanos.

Estamos abogando por los valores humanitarios.

Estamos abogando por que se respete la dignidad de todas las personas.

Simplemente estamos diciendo que tenemos una obligación moral de brindar refugio y dar la bienvenida al extranjero.

Usted y yo tenemos una responsabilidad de recordar que una vez fuimos extranjeros en una tierra extraña y que estamos llamados por Dios para atender a las personas que se envían ahora a nuestro cuidado.

Tenemos que hacer esto porque entendemos que ellos representan a Dios. Los inmigrantes y los problemas de inmigración que nos enfrentamos hoy son nuestro mayor reto como nación. Cómo respondamos a las preguntas formuladas y la defensa necesaria se mostrará de lo que realmente estamos hechos.

Al final del día podremos tener grandes lemas y consignas, grandes creencias, e incluso ser una de las naciones más poderosa y más grande del mundo.

Si no ayudamos a la gente a encontrar la libertad ... y no hacemos esto con la amabilidad y la hospitalidad y el amor, entonces habremos perdido el corazón de nuestra nación. De hecho, habremos perdido el corazón de todas nuestras creencias combinadas.

Es Dios quien nos llama a una comunidad diversa, una familia de Dios. Es la misericordia de Dios y la providencia de lo que dependemos. Y en el llamado de Dios ayudando al extranjero descubrimos nuestro viaje en el reino de Dios.

Dios habló a Abraham y le dijo, "Deja tu tierra, tu familia y tus parientes para ir a la tierra que yo te voy a mostrar. Con tus descendientes voy a formar una gran nación; voy a bendecirte y hacerte famosos y serás una bendición para otros. "

Un Sermon que predico en el Servicio de Oración por Inmigración

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter & Responses

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter to the Anglican Communion has energized many responses in The Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion. Linked are the Presiding Bishop's response and my response.

A Column for the Living Church
 
I wrote the following guest column for the Living Church at their invitation. It is a more condensed version than the response included above. I have also included it in the Out of the Ordinary.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pentecost Letter: mapping our location

William Smith was born in Oxfordshire, England, in the early 19th century and from an early age he was interested in stones. In his diary he wrote that the small round rocks used for marbles looked like something that once lived.

Dairy maids in Oxfordshire used Chadworth Stones (this is where the word stones came into usage as a weight of measurement) to weigh their butter, moreover, the most popular stones looked vaguely like living creatures as well. Manufactured weights were not available at the time and unknown to Smith, the “marbles” and the “weights” were fossils.

Smith grew “curiouser” and “curiouser” pondering the patterns he noticed in rocky formations while he worked as a surveyor of coal mines and canals. Concurrently, the industrial revolution was driving questions about harnessing energy for manufacturing and human energy for labor. The origins of species was being questioned. It was Smith though, who pulled the many thoughts and questions together and eventually drew the first geological map, accurately depicting the layers of earth's strata. This map is the physical birth of geology and quite literally, changed the world. Geology and the manner of study inaugurated in large measure by Smith literally provided both a wealth of raw resources that industry needed to industrialize the world. I learned this all by reading a wonderful book by The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology by Simon Winchester.

We live in a world that clearly stands upon the answered questions of Smith's day, but we live in no less a chaotic time. Advances in technology, science, global culture and society challenge many of our preconceived ideas about the world and its origins. The speed of this change is momentous. In The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle writes that there are three questions being asked today: Where is authority? What is a human being? And what does it mean to be a religious person in a world of global religious complexity?

The top most sought after jobs this year 2010 did not exist in 2004. We are quite literally training children to answer questions and work in jobs that do not yet exist. China will soon be the largest English-speaking country in the world. The United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Twenty-five percent of India’s population with the highest IQ’s is grater than the total population of the United States.

Twenty-seven billion users on My Space make it the size of the fifth largest country in the world. There are five times as many words in the English language today than there were when Shakespeare wrote. One out of eight couples married last year met online.

Billions of searches are done on Google - people seeking answers.

You can watch more of these facts on a YouTube video entitled: Did You Know? at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUMf7FWGdCw

Where do we go when Google can’t come up with the answer? Who do we talk to when we only get computerized voices on the phone?

It would be nice to find a solid place to stand in this scenario.

While I cannot be certain, I do believe that this the very same kind of question that the disciples asked themselves as Jesus explained to them that he was leaving. If I were a disciple I would have asked it as a follow up to Philip's question on the road to Philippi. I would have asked it at the Last Supper. I would have asked it in the Garden of Gethsemane. I would have asked it in the Upper Room and on the shore of the Galilean lake. I would have asked it every time Jesus said he was going away … and in John's Gospel they pretty much did!

Jesus' answer is the same throughout the Gospel, and it reminds us of God's faithful friendship with the patriarchs and matriarchs of our deuteronomistic family: "I will be with you."

Jesus desires an apostolic community where his disciples are forever unified to God - to the community of God - through the Holy Spirit. Jesus dreams that they will follow him, continue to love as he has loved, and continue his ministry of proclaiming the good news. All of this work intimately reflects the divine community of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), reflects the divine unity, the divine love and the divine outpouring of itself into the world.

We are the Episcopal Church. We are that apostolic community in the world. We are the community united in all of our diversity in and through the power of God's revealing Spirit. We glorify God and we make him known as creator, as unique revelation (Jesus Christ), as empowering Spirit.

Yes, the Holy Spirit, the wind, the pnuema, God's breath, the Paraclete, the wisdom, spirit and perfect love of the divine Godhead moves inside the very being of our church and our congregations, our orders and our mission.

The Episcopal Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. And it is in our apostolic family of God that we find our place on the map and where we will find our solid rock. It is from this vantage point that you and I together forge the reign of God - a reign of peace and justice, a reign where people find their dignity, a reign where others are treated as neighbor. Outside the church we are God's hands at work, we are God's revelation.

Our church may not always get it right. We may not have all the answers for how to live life in this chaotic and changing world. But we do know who we are, where we are and in whom our hearts rest.

Come Holy Spirit come, comfort your people and send us out transforming our congregations, our community and the world around us. Come Holy Spirit come!

Blog Archive

Quotes

  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball