Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pharaoh

Thursday, March 22, 2012 -- Week of 4 Lent
James De Koven, Priest, 1897

Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 955)
Psalms  (morning) 69:1-23(24-30)31-38       //        73 (evening)
Exodus 1:6-22     
1 Corinthians 12:12-26      
Mark 8:27 - 9:1  

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

"Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.  He said to his people, 'Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we.  Come, let us deal shrewdly with them...'"  (Exodus 1:8f)

My home state has a new Pharaoh.  Governor Phil Bryant has endorsed an Alabama-style bill by Representative Becky Currie to deal shrewdly with our immigrants.  Like the Alabama law, the bill would require schools to check the citizenship and residency status of every child who enrolls for education.  Anyone applying for a drivers license or business license is subject to check.  Even public utility companies in Alabama are checking status before connecting utilities.  It's a felony to have running water if you are undocumented.

The bill's sponsor Rep. Currie says it's no big deal, just follow the law.  "That's all we're asking.  Be legal."  Nothing to it.  Just file your paperwork and get in line and immigrate legally.  I wonder if she knows, the immigration bureau is just now processing applications filed in 1993-4 by legal residents here from Mexico who would like to have their spouse or child immigrate legally.  That line's not quite 20 years long.

At last weekend's "Immigrant Welcoming Congregations" workshop, our parishioner Doug Cummins told about the best student he ever taught in his college career, a young woman from Moldova.  When she had to leave the country inconveniently for several months to renew her visa, Doug asked, "Why don't you apply for residency or citizenship so you won't have to do that?"  "Have you never heard of quotas?" she asked.  The process is slow, she explained.  "How long would it take you?" Doug asked her.  "Right now, 110 years," she said. 

Just get in line.  That's all we're asking.  Be legal, says Rep. Currie and Gov. Bryant.  (Rep. Currie has also said she believes President Obama is a foreigner and a Muslim.)

There's a loss of soul in as well in these policy changes.  Maybe you've heard some of the reports of how white people in Alabama have begun acting differently toward darker people.  There's more hostility, more threatening behavior.  It's happening in stores.  It's happening even in old relationships that used to be friendly.

God has a way of punishing Pharaohs and oppressors.  God hears the cries of the oppressed.  If Mississippi passes this racist, discriminatory, evil legislation, my state -- poor as it is -- will become poorer.  In Alabama immigrants have fled the state, leaving some crops unharvested.  Conservative estimates count direct losses of $40 million and of 140,000 jobs.  (Even with high unemployment, Alabama citizens aren't flocking to fill the low wage jobs.)  Gross Domestic Product decrease is estimated between $2.3 - $10.8 billion, and local sales taxes are expected to go down $20 - $93.1 billion.  And grocery prices rise as crops sit in the field.

Fear is never productive.  I'm told that the Bible has 365 different places saying, "Fear not.  Do not be afraid."

Paul offers a better way.  We are one body -- "Jews and Greeks, slaves or free" -- documented or undocumented.  When we oppress one part of the body we harm the whole.  "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you.  ...On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members we of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this."  (1 Cor. 12:21f)

We pull people to this country with our need for cheap labor.  Struggling people trying to provide for their families are drawn to this country and to the hope for a better life.  We make it virtually impossible for them to come illegally, even as we benefit from their risk to come nonetheless.  Then we treat them as criminals, separate them from their families, detain and deport.  It is wicked behavior.  Anti-family, anti-work, anti-aspirational, anti-compassionate.  Cruel, bigoted, proud, and damaging to the whole. 

Things didn't turn out well for the Pharaoh.  Things aren't turning out so well for Alabama.  They won't for Mississippi either if it follows Gov. Bryant and Rep. Currie's lead.  Prejudice, arrogance and oppression have their own destructive consequences.  Love, compassion and justice can build up the body.  A better law -- Jesus' new commandment:  "Love one another."

Lowell

Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
-- Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"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
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

2 Comments:

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous carolyn cole said...

Thank you for writing on the issues that the undocumented are facing. I think most of us are unaware of what they deal with on a daily basis. Our meeting on Saturday was excellent. Compassion is the key to loving one another.

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the comment, Carolyn. I hope our parish can contribute some compassion to the injustice and suffering that so many of our immigrant neighbors face.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home