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Faces on Faith: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ — Matthew 25:35

By Staff | Jul 11, 2018

Rev. John Cedarleaf

On July 1, there were demonstrations around the country protesting the policy of this administration in regard to illegal immigration, particularly the so called “zero tolerance” policy which means that each detained stranger is charged with a crime and brought to court. It also included the separation of children and parents, though that has been rescinded. Now families will be detained together for an unspecified period of time.

It would be easy on this beautiful July 2 to write something “summery” as I sit at our family beach house in Rhode Island, where I’ve spent a couple of weeks with my family including six grandchildren ages 12-4. They are the ages of many of these children who have been held along with their parents for the crime of entering the United States illegally. Yes, I know it is a crime as far as the statues go. I know all the legal stuff and all the endless discussions about borders and walls and things like that, and yes I’m a citizen of this country and I generally respect its laws. Both of my sons are veterans, Navy and Marine Corps, one of whom saw combat twice. So I’m a little tired of defending my patriotism to some.

Frankly, as a Christian, I’m committed to a “higher authority” as the old ad about Hebrew National franks used to say. I know the conversation around Romans 12 and how that has been used in the past and even now to stifle those who would disagree with this or that policy. As a Christian, a follower of the one who gave his life in love for all the world, my focus is different, or at least I hope it is different as I seek to hold up a different way. You don’t have to look too far in Scripture, both Hebrew and Christian, to see this ethic of love acted out in word and deed. In Hebrew Scripture, the stranger, the alien, are to be welcomed and in the 25th chapter of Matthew you have it made clear. The one who reached out to the least and the lowest reached out to Jesus, even though she may not have ever thought about it or known that she was doing so. Those who didn’t see the Jesus in the hungry and the thirsty; in the stranger and naked, the prisoner and the sick, missed the boat.

I don’t want to get to the dock and find out that I missed the boat. Do you?

The Rev. John Cedarleaf is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.