Thursday, September 13, 2007

Refugees in Egypt

Thursday, September 13, 2007 -- Week of Proper 18
(Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258)

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
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Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 982)
Psalms 50 (morning) [59, 60] or 93, 96 (evening)
1 Kings 18:1-19
Philippians 2:12-30
Matthew 2:13-23

Whenever I hear reports of refugees, I think of the story that Matthew gives us about the flight of Joseph and Mary and the child Jesus. Because of the violence and threat of Herod, they leave their home and make their way to Egypt. There they find safety and refuge until they can return. After Herod's death, they go back to Israel, but not to Joseph's family's region of Judea. Fearing Herod's son Archelaus, the family moves into the northern reaches of Galilee, an area with a more diverse population because of its proximity to major highways and to Gentile population centers.

The plight of refugees is so vulnerable. To leave one's home and relocate to a foreign land is a desperate thing. Violence, famine and grinding poverty have caused dislocations of families like Joseph and Mary throughout human history. I read the other day that over two million souls have become refugees because of the violence in Iraq.

Mary, Joseph and Jesus survived in Egypt. We don't have any canonical accounts of their tenure there, but we can infer a few things. It is likely that they were not hounded by the Egyptian authorities and treated as criminals. It is very possible that they were able to find some community and support among other Hebrews living there, maybe some whose families did not participate in the Exodus. I'll bet Mary and Joseph weren't required to learn Egyptian as the official language of that nation. We don't know how much welcome and how much discrimination and shunning they received as refugees or as illegal aliens.

But what we are invited into with this story is an attitude of compassion. For Christians, every refugee is Christ. Every alien family is the Holy Family. That attitude of compassion, hospitality and justice is our inheritance, not only from the compelling story of Jesus' sojourn into Egypt, but also because of the repeated commandment of God in the Hebrew Scripture: "The alien among 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." (Leviticus 19:34)



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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
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At 9:50 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

They didn't want to stay in Egypt, so I would infer that they were not treated as honored guests.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger scott said...

well said Lowell.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Telmeimrong said...

The aliens were also to take part in the passover. Does this not suggest that they are to adopt the way of the host?
I see this is an effort to give anyone who opposes illegal immigration a huge guilt trip. I, like the majority of Americans welcome LEGAL immigrants who want to be Americans.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

No, I've been invited to the Passover by Jewish friends. It is their gift of hospitality. I'm not expected to become Jewish or to obey the Jewish law. I am simply invited to celebrate the festival of freedom and liberation.

Maybe you should go on a big guilt trip over your failure of hospitality and our country's moral failure toward those who would like to immigrate to this country legally but are blocked by our unreasonable quotas. God doesn't like Pharaoh's laws.


At 9:55 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

We (the people) are Pharaoh?

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reg golb said
Yes, if you want to be a Jew then you must accept their way of life. If you are a visitor, like the Bible example I quoted, you are simply participating in the passover.

First, most of the illegals who are here don't want to be American's, they should stay home, that is the law.
Second, if you want to be an American then you must go through the proper channels. If you are successful then you become an American, you speak English, you follow our laws, you help enforce our laws.If you are denied you either keep trying or you quit trying.
Third. If there are enough Americans who believe that we need more legal immigrants than are currently allowed, you change the law.

The law is the law. If you don't like it, you don't break it, you try to change it. Where is the scripture that says to condone breaking of the law?

God doesn't like Pharaoh's laws? Where is that scripture. 1Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake:
We are to follow the law, God put the Jew's on the crossroads of the world. If you think Christians are on the crossroad, then get the laws changed.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Yes, Reg. I remember your argument very well growing up in another prejudice. It was the law in my state that black people couldn't vote, couldn't go to school with white people, couldn't eat in the same restaurants, sit in the same waiting rooms, or marry someone outside their race.

The laws were unjust, and Christians motivated by love and justice violated those laws as part of a movement to get them changed.

It is virtually impossible for a willing common laborer to immigrate legally from Mexico to the United States. We have a fairly generous policy toward doctors and engineers. But we need workers. According to the National Immigration Forum, there are 5000 visas available each year for general workers from Latin America to enter the US legally. Our economy has been successfully absorbing about 300,000 a year. Our economy NEEDS those workers and in many ways is dependent upon them. It takes about 10 years for most laborers to immigrate legally. Waits can be as long as 22 years. This is a broken system.

Good people who want to work to make a better life for themselves and their families would like to come to this country legally to help us meet the labor demands our economy generates. Our ineffective immigration policies prevent them from doing so legally. Humane immigration reform could change this. Create a sensible immigration policy that is realistic enough to restore the rule of law. You can't enforce an unrealistic law. Give undocumented immigrants a reasonable path to earn citizenship. Work with families, not against them. Yes, this is a family values issue. Immigrants have families too. We are a nation of immigrants. We can do this better. And walls are for the Soviet Union, not America.

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. (Leviticus 19:34)

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The system is broken because the current laws are not enforced. What are you doing to get the law enforced, or change the law?

Black people were legal citizens, they paid taxes, they deserved consititutional rights. Illegal immigrants, from anywhere, don't deserve the same rights as did black Americans.

Walls are for any country. All countries have limited resources, that is a fact. Anyone who comes here and uses our limited resources is a thief. Anyone who comes here and works without paying taxes, putting their kids in our schools, using someone elses ss# is a thief. Thieves are criminals. Christians can be compassionate, but endorsing criminals is ridiculous.

Why do you suppose most Americans, and as much as 50% of legal immigrants don't want illegals to get amnesty? Because they know they wouldn't get amnesty. Because they understand someone has to pay the bill. But, of course a certain group of people need more voters.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

There was an interesting show on the history channel on climatic changes over the ages, and how in past ice ages New York was covered by glaciers and undoubtedly will be covered once again in the future. This seems to predict a time during the next ice age when Americans may be fleeing to Mexico and Latin America in a reverse of today's situation. So, we better not build the walls too high. Or maybe we should be more supportive of globalization and reducing the barriers between people, lest the theory of Karma come back to haunt us.

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Karma, what verse is that again?

At 7:54 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

"What goes around comes around." - Momma.

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did God support globalization?



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