Hello reader(s). It has been long enough since my last update that there may only be one of you left (mom or wife?). Things have been pretty busy, but that’s not a great excuse. Blog posts are best when life is busy and there is something to actually talk about, no?
We moved on June 15 to Fayette, AL where I am now serving as pastor with the fantastic people of First UMC. What a great church! Our first Sunday went very well. It was exciting to see all of the new faces. They seemed curious and excited to see what they’d gotten themselves into with this new pastor!
More will come later about the move, our missing dog (Katie), swimming, camp, church, sermons, and bike rides. Today I’ll publish what I started to write 3 weeks ago, and just finished.
I had some slight misgivings about being faithful lately. By faithful I mean, speaking up on an issue. Since I call myself a disciple, *every* aspect of my life is (should be) held up to scrutiny by the One I follow. Every behavior, action or thought is (should be) a tiny picture of how I imagine Jesus might bring grace and life - what to buy, how to give/spend/save money, what to drive, how to entertain, when to act or not, how to vote, who to help, how to love... everything. Since I call myself a leader I should lead.
But when I was invited to sign an open letter to the governor and legislators expressing how a new law is theologically offensive, alarm bells went off in my head. I wanted to sign the letter - to lend my voice and support - but how will my new church-folk take it? Do I really want to annoy some people even before I get there? No, I don’t want to annoy anyone, but I do want to be a faithful witness to what I think Jesus would have me say/do. Hopefully, even if someone disagrees with the issue they can appreciate that I am trying to be faithful.
Let me say, I agree that the US and Alabama must have effective laws regarding borders and immigration. However, the way we go about enforcing our borders should not fly in the face of who we claim to be; a Christian nation. This bill, HB56, is written in a mean-spirited way. It is as if there is a neighborhood competition for having the best disciplined children, and the Alabama legistlative parents have said “let’s make them suffer,” thinking their cruelty will win points with their neighbors.
We do need effective immigration law. But this bill flies in the face of what the Bible says is an appropriate way to treat one another. Some of the blblical instructions regarding aliens are...
From Leviticus 19:33-34 - When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 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.
Exodus 22:21 - You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Malachi 3:5 - Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in their wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me.
Deuteronomy 27:19 - Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan and the widow of justice.”
Zechariah 7:9 - Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
Ezekiel 47:22 - “You shall allot (some of the land) as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as citizens of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
Matthew 25:35 - For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Jim Evans in EthicsDaily.com writes, “The point I am making is simply this: Any group of people who claim to be a Christian majority, as is the case in Alabama, should not be celebrating the adoption of the harshest and most comprehensive anti-immigration law in the country – not in the light of these biblical memories of oppression.
“We should do one of two things – give up our claim to being a Christian majority, or adjust our ethics to conform to biblical teaching on the matter. We cannot have it both ways.
He’s got a point. eb