Colin Kapernick kneeled, Jemele Hill of ESPN spoke out, Steph Curry hesitated to visit the White House, and the President turned his racial prejudiced agenda against athletes and those who cover them. To quote Ron Burgundy, “that escalated quickly.” On Friday, the President referred to NFL players as “SOBs” and tweeted that those who did not stand for the national anthem should be fired.
I don’t believe the issue is a lack of respect for the flag or our nation, but the racial bias and prejudice that permeates our living today. The President has made it clear that he cares only about himself. This is the man that has continuously tweeted about crowd size at rallies while making no mention of Puerto Rico being without electricity. When the subject turns to race, he goes to great lengths to defend white supremacists as “nice guys” while calling African-American athletes “SOBs” This culminated in yesterday’s mass protest by NFL players, officials, and owners. Many kneeled, some locked arms, and a few even skipped the whole national anthem all together. The NFL said “enough.”
Walter Bruegemann describes Biblical Christianity as “awed to heaven, rooted in earth,” The wonder of God roots us to what is going on in current time and place. I’ve been thinking about the difference between being driven to your knees in prayer and being driven to your knees in protest. There are times when the line between the two is thin. This is such a time. Prayer is proclaiming that God’s will makes a way when it seems there is none. Prayer is asking that a world more whole than what we currently experience will take root.
All our biblical prophets confronted the evils of empire in their time and place. The stories from the Bible that we read to our children are about heroes who were in tune with God’s will against empire. The one whom we proclaim Lord and Savior was put to death because he confronted empire. Yesterday I thought about where we would find Jesus. I imagine if you looked closely enough, you would have seen him somewhere on his knees, in prayer and protest, proclaiming God’s kin-dom come to earth.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” Matthew 25:35(b)
It is the easiest parts of the Bible to understand that are the hardest ones to live out. As the Trump administration prepares to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) I have a hard time seeing how Christians would support this action. If anything, people who seek to follow the ways of Jesus should be on the forefront of advocating for rights for Dreamers.
Immigration is tricky in the United States. In a nation where everyone is from somewhere else, we struggle with what to do about those who desire to do the same as our ancestors. I’ve spent time building homes in Tijuana and Tecate, along US and Mexican border. I’ve had interaction and spent time with people who live in these communities. The welcome and hospitality is consistently excellent (and biblical). This past Spring, our group meet Eddie. Eddie lived across the street from where we were building. He made it a point to open his home to us each day for bathroom facilities and for rest from the sun. He played music for us while we built. He cut up enough fresh mangoes for twenty-five people each day. I don’t know if Eddie was familiar with Matthew 25, but he sure did know how to live it out. He spoke of the family who had moved to the United States for better opportunities. I remember thinking how I hoped they had been treated equally as well in the states as we had been treated in Mexico.
There are currently 800,000 Dreamers here in the United States. Chances are you know at least one, two, or twenty in some form or fashion. They are neighbors, friends, and colleagues. I suspect that if you took a snapshot of any group of 800,000 people here, you would find that the Dreamers compare very well using the traditional metrics of success. For example, ninety-five percent are either working or in school. In the the wider church I serve, Dreamers offering some of the best ministry the church knows today. Our church will be less whole if DACA is ended. Our nation will be less whole if DACA is ended. Dreamers illustrate the best of what the United States offers not a problem that needs to be solved.
Later in Matthew 25, Jesus points out the consequences for not welcoming the stranger are steep. Rejecting the stranger amounts to rejecting him. While I do think that the ending of DACA by this administration is cruel and has much to do with racial resentment and prejudice, it is not my politics that informs my thoughts. It is my faith. It is my understanding of how Jesus calls us to live that urges me to speak out. A world in which Dreamers are deported is a world that is taking a step away from God’s dream for us. The deportation of Dreamers brings another scripture to mind- “Jesus wept.”