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Signs of the Times  •  27 June 2018 •  No. 165

Processional.Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor,” musical setting by Irving Berlin of Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty, performed by the Portland Choir & Orchestra.

Above: Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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Invocation. “In seasons of dark desire eyes strain for Eden’s refrain and flickered light ’mid the fright of earth’s travail. Oh, Beloved, unleash your Voice of Pardon from wrath’s consuming reign. Speak peace to the hungered of heart.” —continue reading “Speak peace to the hungered of heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 85

Call to worship. “Come, heaven! Come, earth! With mercy so tender, adopted in splendor, all bloodletting malice shall melt into praise. Riches of grace are lavishing still—breathlessly awaiting the fullness of days, when all will be gathered and richly arrayed. With mercy so tender, adopted in splendor, all bloodletting malice shall melt into praise.” —continue reading “Good pleasure,” a litany for worship inspired by Ephesians 1:3-14

Signs of resistance to impunity.
        • “The El Paso [Texas] County sheriff [Richard Wiles] prohibited his deputies from working off-duty at a temporary shelter housing migrant children, saying he refused to support the Trump administration’s “unjust” policy of separating families at the border. “I told them absolutely not. I think it’s wrong. . . . It’s not consistent with the values of the sheriff’s office.” Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post
        • After providing journalists a tour of a child detention camp near El Paso on the Mexican border, a senior manager told them that President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy was a ‘dumb, stupid decision. . . . All it did was harm children.’” Kevin Tripp, Guardian

Hymn of praise.  “All praise belongs to God. Let’s sing.” —“Tala' al-Badru Alayna” (The Moon Has Shone His Light To Us),” Canadian children’s choir singing the oldest known Islamic song, which was sung by Prophet Muhammad's companions to welcome him as he sought refuge in Medina

Setting the record straight in light of fearmongering. "‘There's no wave of crime being committed by the immigrant community,’ [Houston, Texas, police chief Art] Acevedo said. ‘As a matter of fact, a lot of the violent crime that we're dealing with is being committed by people that are born and raised right here in the United States.’” Four different academic studies now prove him right. —for more see John Burnett, “Illegal Immigration Does Not Increase Violent Crime, 4 Studies Show,” NPR

When love overrules fear. This brief (1:06) video, recorded by an onlooker, shows Mamoudou Gassama, an undocumented migrant from Mali living in France, scaling four floors of an apartment building to rescue a toddler dangling on a balcony rail.

Confession. I am “trudging into the distance in the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus. . . . The Lord out of dust created me, made me blood and nerve and mind, had made me bleed and weep and think, and set me in a world of loss.” —adapted to read first-person, from Flannery O’Connor’s novel, The Violent Bear it Away

Words of assurance. “All glory to you, Gracious One, who smiles on the earth, restoring the fortunes of our ancestors. In your presence, the weight of shame is lifted, and we are drenched in pardon. The cooling of your anger lifts mist into the air, and the fields drink their fill.” —continue reading “Justice and peace will kiss,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 85

Hymn of intercession.The Prayer of the Refugee,” Rise Against.

Colbert, Sessions, and the Apostle Paul. In case you missed this: Stephen Colbert takes down Jeff Sessions’ biblical rationale for family separation policies. (5:06 video)

Professing our faith. “In considering illegal immigration, many talk appropriately about the rule of law. But there is also the imago dei—the shared image of God—that does not permit individual worth and dignity to be sorted by national origin. This commitment does not translate simplistically into open borders and amnesty. It does mean, however, that immigrants should not be used as objects of organized anger or singled out for prejudice and harm.” —Michael Gerson

Right: Rob Rogers, political cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was fired from his job after producing this cartoon.

Short story. My friend and colleague Joyce Hollyday and other gringas meet every Thursday with a group of Spanish-speaking women at a local church in Madison County, NC, for Bible study, language lessons, and a potluck lunch. The mujeres’ fear of being arrested and deported bubbles up frequently in the conversation.

        “But a few weeks ago Carmela announced over lunch, ‘I think the best way to keep from being sent back is to introduce ourselves to local law enforcement—let them see our children and get to know our families.’ It seemed to me audacious and brave—and very frightening for my friends.”

        You’ll love reading the rest of the story, “Lunch with the Law.”

Cheers. “Notice how we’re constantly told there isn’t $ to provide adequate schools or healthcare for poor children but funds suddenly materialize whenever they decide to imprison children.” —@BreeNewsome

Jeers. Border Patrol agents caught on film destroying supplies left by humanitarian groups to reduce migrant deaths while crossing the US border with Mexico. More migrants died during that dangerous trek in the last 16 years than in 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina combined. (Thanks Jeanne.)

By the numbers. National Bureau of Economic Research reported in a June 2017 study that each adult refugee settling in the US between 2010-2014 paid, on average, $21,000 more in taxes than they cost in public assistance. Veronika Bondarenko, Business Insider

        In a July 2017 study the Trump Administration’s House and Human Services office that that refugees paid $63 billion more in taxes than they received in public assistance. New York Times

¶ “Regarding our current ‘immigration’ uproar: the chaos at our southern border with Mexico did not start at that border. There is traceable history behind the fact that many of this era’s migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.” —continue reading “Are things are getting worse? No, just uncovered. Commentary on ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies, with five suggestions

Offertory.Immigrants: We get the job done.” Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton” creator) produced this thought-provoking music video about the American immigrant experience, featuring Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product. (6:07 video.)

History summary you need to know.

        • Here’s an excellent, brief (3:21 video) history of race as an immigration factor. (Thanks Leon.)

        • Essential reading.There’s no immigration crisis and these charts prove it,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

        • “There were no federal laws governing who could enter and who couldn’t until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.” —read more on US immigration history, Becky Little, “The Birth of ‘Illegal’ Immigration,” History

        • “When people say ‘my ancestors came here legally,’ they’re probably right. For the first century of the country’s existence, anyone could land here and walk right off the boat with no papers of any kind. Coming here ‘illegally’ did not even exist as a concept [until 1924].Kevin Jennings, LA Times

        • “Until the 1920s, Europeans who came to the United States could just show up, without a visa, and were generally admitted. After the 1920s, there were also relatively easy avenues available to people to adjust their status while remaining in the country, even if they had entered without authorization. Those possibilities basically ended in 1965 [with the Immigration and Nationality Act], and the consequence of this change has directly fed our current immigration challenges.” —Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

        • How things have changed. “The traditional hospitality of the American people has been severely tested by recent events, but it remains the strongest in the world. Republicans are proud that our people have opened their arms and hearts to strangers from abroad and we favor an immigration and refugee policy which is consistent with this tradition.” Republican Party platform of 1980

Art at right by Nizar Ali Badr. See more of his “pebble stories” art.

Preach it. “As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.” —Barbara Brown Taylor

¶ “What is the fear that drives the leaders of the United States to tear children from their parents and put them in places of horror and despair? For both Pharaoh and Herod, the destruction of children had nothing to do with “safety” and everything to do with insecurity, a pathological hatred of the other, and a fanatical desire to hold on to power at all costs.” —Sylvia Keesmaat, “Separating Children and Parents Is Not About Safety. It’s About Hate,” Sojourners

Hymn of supplication. I Am a Stranger,” Ken Medema.

Can’t makes this sh*t up. President Trump has nominated Ronald W. Mortensen to be the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Mortensen currently works for the Center for Immigration Studies, a white nationalist group. Southern Poverty Law Center (Thanks Harold.)

Call to the table. “I am resilient / I trust the movement / I negate the chaos / Uplift the negative / I'll show up at the table / Again and again and again / I'll close my mouth and learn to listen.” —Rising Appalachia, “Resilient

The state of our disunion. “There are white Christians who are OK with forcibly separating migrant children from their families . . .  who are so enthusiastically preparing for summer mission trips to these same children’s countries.” —@davidswanson (Thanks Kristen.)

More disunion. In February the “US Citizenship and Immigration Services altered its mission statement by taking out a reference to the US as a ‘nation of immigrants.’" The new statement speaks of “protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.” The rising tide of xenophobia is now reinforced with formal language. Max Greenwood, The Hill

Best one-liner. “All of us are immigrants, in this state of grace.” —Leslie Lee & Steve Gretz, “Immigrants” 

For the beauty of the earth. Two resources to explore opportunities at US national parks.

        •The outdoor recreation company Montem has created a very useful compilation, “Top 37 National Parks To Visit Before You Die," which includes not only photos but background information, including a “things to do list” and “how to get there” options for each.

        • “The 22 best US national parks to escape the crowds, chosen by experts.” —Guardian

Altar call. “The strategy of Jesus is not centred in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place—with the outcast and those relegated to the margins." —Fr. Gregory Boyle

¶ “Here's where to donate to help migrant children and families at the border,” by Megan Leonhard, offers great advice generally as well as several specific recommendations. CNBC (Thanks Buddy.)

Benediction. It’s hard to describe Bruce Springsteen’s performance (6:26 video) at the recent Tony Awards. It’s a combination of spoken word and singing (from “My Hometown”) as he describes both the beauty and the heartache of every hometown. There is no one without the other. Root yourself; find companions; turn your face into whatever wind—fair or foul—is blowing. In everything give thanks, resting in the assurance, which only a heart of faith can access, that in the end goodness will outdistance hardship.

Recessional. Sharifah Khasif, extraordinarily beautiful Qur’anic recitation.

Lectionary for this Sunday.Rouse yourselves,” a litany for worship inspired by Ezekiel 2:1-5. And: “Sufficient grace,” a litany for worship inspired by 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 & Habakkuk 3:17-19.

Lectionary for Sunday next.Good pleasure,” a litany for worship inspired by Ephesians 1:3-14

Just for fun. There is no white Jesus. (1:52. Thanks Phil.)

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Are things are getting worse? No, just uncovered," commentary on “zero tolerance” immigration policies, with five suggestions

• “Good pleasure,” a litany for worship inspired by Ephesians 1:3-14

• “Blessed assurance: Call to the table in the face of terror

• “Speak peace to the hungered of heart,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 85

• “Justice and peace will kiss,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 85

• “Three exegetes—a traditionalist, a modernist, and a post-modernist—walk into a bar. Over shots of bourbon, the three discuss the prologue (1:3-14) to the epistle to the Ephesians,” pastoral commentary
SPECIAL FEATURE. In light of the US Independence Day approach, see this 2017 special issue of “Signs of the Times” on “Patriotism.”
Other features

• “Out of the House of Slavery,” a Bible study on “immigration”

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