Signs of the Times • 13 June 2017 • No. 123
18-25 JUNE 2017
¶ Processional. “Who We Are,” Gungor (4:05 video. Click the “show more” button to read their commentary).
Above: Full cloud inversion over the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Harun Mehmedinovic, Skyglow Project.
On 4 December 2000 the United National General Assembly approved a resolution to inaugurate World Refugee Day, annually on 20 June. Protestant bodies as diverse as the World Evangelical Alliance and the World Council of Churches (which include Orthodox bodies as well) urge member congregation to commemorate World Refugee Sunday each year on the Sunday before or after 20 June. The Roman Catholic Church observes the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in January. —“World Refugee Day,” Wikipedia
¶ “no one leave home unless / home is the mouth of a shark.” —Warsan Shire, “Home”
¶ Invocation. “Give thanks and rejoice you storm-tossed pilgrims: the Stiller of Storms is at your mast, hushing the wind and calming the waves. Listen now you barking jackals: A diligent Voice will sever your tongue and seal your mouth forever. Give thanks, you orphan and widow; rejoice, you refugee: Let the least of these join choirs of angels in grateful harmony!” —continue reading “Let Wisdom’s Way Endure,” a litany for use on Refugee Sunday
¶ Making it visual. Immigration animated. Watch the movement of every refugee on earth since the year 2,000.
¶ “What does it mean to be a refugee?” an excellent brief video (5:42) summary. —Benedetta Berti & Evelien Borgman
¶ Call to worship. “For the Immigrants (Get to Know Me)”, Fred Bogert. (3:27 video Thanks Joe.)
¶ This is pretty amazing. “Clarkston, a small town in Georgia, has received over 40,000 refugees over the past 25 years. They come from every corner of the globe. This year there are more Congolese than Syrians; past waves of refugee resettlement have brought Bhutanese, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese, Liberians, Vietnamese. All have landed in an otherwise unremarkable city in the Deep South, population 13,000.” —Katy Long, The Guardian. Pictured above is Malek Alarmash who works at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston, GA. The company is run by a Christian couple and hires newly arrived refugees. Photo by Matthew Bell .
¶ Never before has the world seen such a dramatic increase in the number of refugees.
•Last year, 24 people per minute were displaced by conflict or persecution.
•More than half of the world’s refugees are children under the age of 18, and three quarters are women and children.
•Worldwide, less than 1% of the world’s refugees get the opportunity to be resettled in a developed country.
•Poorer countries are hosting over 85% of the world’s refugees. —watch this 0:58 video from the International Rescue Committee
¶ Hymn of praise. “I got two hands / I want to clap my hands together / I got two legs / I want to dance to heavens door / I got one heart / I gonna fill it up with up Jesus / And I ain't gonna think about trouble anymore.” —Towness Van Zandt, “Two Hands”
¶ “Where are the Syrian refugees?” —“The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition,” Michael D. Nicholson, The Gapminder Foundation
¶ A recent CNN poll found “ that a whopping 90% favor allowing [undocumented immigrants] who have been working here ‘for a number of years,’ know English, and are willing to pay back taxes to stay and eventually apply for citizenship. Only 9% want them deported.” —Greg Sargent, Washington Post
¶ Confession. “We live in a fretful land, anxious over the ebbing away of privilege, fearful that strangers are stealing our birthright, aliens breaching borders, refugees threatening security.” —continue reading “You shall also love the stranger,” a litany for worship using texts on immigrant
¶ The singular reason immigration reform is stalled is because our economy heavily depends on cheap labor—it’s a can’t-live-with them, can’t-live-without them” reality. Watching this “What would a city look like without undocumented immigrants” video (3:41.) —The Guardian
¶ Words of assurance. “Jesus, Savior, pilot me / Over life’s tempestuous sea; / Unknown waves before me roll, / Hiding rock and treacherous shoal. / Chart and compass come from Thee; / Savior, pilot me.” —The Lower Lights, “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me”
Left: Syria refuges depicted in pebble. Syrian Artist Nizar Ali Badr. See more about the artist and more of his artwork.
¶ “Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee,” Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Brightly. (Thanks Kristin.)
¶ “Speaking to MSNBC on Saturday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked to discuss the growing anxiety over Syrian refugees entering the United States. . . . He responded, ‘I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue.’” —Jack Jenkins, ThinkProgress
¶ “We've all heard the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.’ The truth of this was clearly demonstrated one day last year when hungry Cambodians lined up in a refugee camp for food rations. Hundreds of the refugees waited in silence as their shares were distributed. But when fish nets were passed out, the crowds cheered.” —Coretta Scott King, CNN
¶ “Look hard for ways, for opportunities to make little moves against destructiveness.” —André Trocmé, along with his wife Magda, are a French couple named in Israel’s “Righteous Among the Nations” memorial for their community’s work in hiding Jews from the Nazis in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Philip Paul Hallie reports the town’s inspiring story in his book, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed. Read Dan Buttry’s profile of Trocmé on ReadTheSpirit.
¶ “The number of churches that are actively offering refuge—and where immigrants are taking them up on it— is unclear. But since Trump was elected in November, the number of churches in the United States expressing willingness to offer sanctuary has doubled to 800, according the Rev. Noel Anderson, national grassroots coordinator at Church World Service." —Jason Hanna, “Can churches provide legal sanctuary to undocumented immigrants?” CNN
¶ “How Cities Are Using Sanctuary to Build Moral Muscle: The bottom line is that no local policy can actually prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from conducting raids, making arrests, or deporting undocumented immigrants. But the sanctuary movement is not without power. Importantly, it serves as a public statement, and this public commitment has powerful political and moral impact.” —Mary Turck, Yes! magazine
¶ Short story. This is one example of how lasting ecumenical and interfaith engagement starts. “In rural Canada, churches that once shunned one another open their hearts to Syrian refugees.” —Bobby Ross Jr., Religion News Service
¶ By the numbers. In fiscal 2016, the highest number of refugees from any nation came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo accounted for 16,370 refugees followed by Syria (12,587), Burma (aka Myanmar, with 12,347), Iraq (9,880) and Somalia (9,020). —“Key facts about refugees to the US,” Pew Research Center
¶ Preach it. “You shall also love the stranger [immigrant], for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” —Deuteronomy 10:19. See “Strangers and aliens” for a collection of biblical texts relating to immigrants.
¶ "Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery." —Jack Parr
¶ Can’t makes this sh*t up. “We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” So said Nikki Haley, then governor of South Carolina (now US ambassador to the UN), responding to President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address. But what about:
•The Naturalization Act of 1790, which extended citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person. . . .”?
•Or the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882?
•Or the Immigration Act of 1917, which banned immigration from East Asia and the Pacific?
•Or Ozawa v. US, the 1922 Supreme Court decision which declared that Japanese immigrants could not be naturalized?
•Or US v. Bhagat Singh, the 1923 high court ruling which said people from India—like Gov. Haley’s parents—could not be become naturalized citizens? —Leonard Pitts, “Haley’s fairy tale ignores our history”
¶ Call to the table. “Remember, you were a slave in Egypt. . . .” (Deut. 24:17-18) is at the core of biblical faith. Memory fosters fidelity; amnesia leads to ruin. The witnesses who testify to one or the other are the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow, signifying those most at risk in the unfettered market’s madness. —kls
¶ “If humanitarianism is what motivated the U.S. in Syria, it would take in massive numbers of refugees, but it hasn’t.” —Glenn Greenwald, “The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria” The Intercept
¶ “There are 2.8 million Syrian refugees in Turkey alone. Only about 18,000 Syrians have been resettled in America since 2011.” —Angelina Jolie, the move star who is also the special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, New York Times
¶ The state of our disunion. “Consider two critical issues: refugees and guns. Trump is going berserk over the former, but wants to ease rules on the latter. So let’s look at the relative risks. In the four decades between 1975 and 2015, terrorists born in the seven nations in Trump’s travel ban killed zero people in America. In that same period, guns claimed 1.34 million lives in America.” —Nicholas Kristof, “Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists,” New York Times
¶ Best one-liner. “Why we should not forget the role our endless wars over the last sixteen years have played in creating the refugee crisis we now so earnestly decry.” —Jerry Lembcke, “The Great American ‘Welcoming’ Breakout: What’s Not to Like?” CommonDreams
Right: Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, opened in 2012 to host Syrians fleeing that country’s civil war. Some 80,000 refugees now live there, making it Jordan’s 4th largest city. Less than 13,000 Syrian refugees were admitted to the US in 2016.
¶ Altar call. Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University and a leading expert on prejudice, “has studied how immigrants and refugees are uniformly discriminated against the world over. She’s conducted neuroscience research that shows when we dehumanize others, the regions of our brain associated with disgust turn on and the regions associated with empathy turn off.” —Brian Resnick, “The dark psychology of dehumanization, explained,” Vox
¶ For the beauty of the earth. “Stunning timelapse video (2:53) captures cloud 'waves' in Grand Canyon.”
¶ Benediction. “Go In Peace,” Sam Baker.
¶ Recessional. “O courage my soul / and let us carry on. / For the night is dark, / and I am far from home. / Thanks be to God / The morning light appears.” —Detroit Mass Choir, “The Storm Is Passing Over”
¶ Lectionary for this Sunday. “Jump for joy, oh people! For amid the screaming commercials and blithering campaign ads, the Redeemer has heard our aching voice. God hears! God knows! This is our assurance against all blistering deceit.” —continue reading “Bounty and abundance,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 116
¶ Lectionary for Sunday next. “For succor and strength, confine to the Shadow; / there abide, reside, whatever betide. / In the fullness of time the Call will be sounded; / the pathway of peace, reveal and confide.” —continue reading “Abiding in the shadow,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 17 and other text references to “shadow”
¶ New essay. “When you stick it to your neighbor, you’re sticking it to the Abba of Jesus. When you shorten the breath of those on the margin, you are simultaneously constricting the Breath of the Spirit in your own lungs. In vivid Pauline language, greed is synonymous with idolatry (Colossians 3:5); when your belly (e.g., your desires, your security demands) becomes your god, you are the ‘enemy of the cross’ (Philippians 3:18-19). I can assure you, those texts are never read in White House prayer breakfasts.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s essay, “God and stuff: Lawnmowers, banking boodle, and the Spirit’s traffic in human affairs”
¶ Just for fun. “Long Hot Summer Days,” Sara Watkins
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Featured this week on prayer&politiks
• 50+ new annotated book reviews in “What are you reading and why?”
• “Let Wisdom’s Way Endure,” a litany for use on Refugee Sunday
• “Abiding in the shadow,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 17 and other text references to “shadow”
• “Baptized into death,” a Father’s Day sermon rooted in Genesis 21:8-21; Psalm 86:1-10; Jeremiah 20:7-13; Romans 6:10-11; Matthew 10:24-39
Refugee Sunday resources
• See World Refugee Day “Worship resources” from Church World Service. Many denominational bodies have special resources—do a web search with the name of your body + “world refugee Sunday.”
• “You shall also love the stranger,” a litany for worship using texts on immigrants
• “Strangers and aliens,” a collection of biblical texts relating to immigrants and refugees
• “Strangers we were,” a litany for worship inspired by Ephesians 2:11-12
• “Songs about immigrants and refugees,” a listing for reference
©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org. Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor, as are those portions cited as “kls.” Don’t let the “copyright” notice keep you from circulating material you find here (and elsewhere in this site). Reprint permission is hereby granted in advance for noncommercial purposes.
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