Friday, December 7, 2012
La Posada: Seeking God At The Border
Your life depends on a random stranger who could kill you, will probably disrespect you, and will most likely pay you much less than you deserve. But even those prospects are better than the ones you used to have. This is the life of los jornaleros – the day laborers.
Gustavo Arellano, Ask A Mexican
Tomorrow a few of us from Orange County will head down the the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrate La Posada Sin Fronteras with a binational coalition of justice-seekers and peace-mongers. The organizers of this two-decade tradition seek to subvert the Mexican Christmas ritual of the Posada, the playful re-enactment of Mary & Joseph frantically searching for a room in Bethlehem on the eve of the birth of Jesus. Our Mexican brothers on the south side of the border will ask us if there is room for them in El Norte.
Unfortunately, the uniquely American experiment (the nation of immigrants!) has become a schizophrenic community that desperately needs the work and creativity that immigrants provide ("Help Wanted") but at the very same time seeks to criminalize and deport them ("No Vacancy"). This mentality is deeply hypocritical and immoral.
We will give voice to immigrant injustice and claim the alternative vision enshrined on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
We will proclaim the American Dream with Martin Luther King: that all God's children--red and yellow and black and white and brown--may "live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
We will overlap the story of the baby Jesus and his parents in their journey to Egypt to flee violence & injustice with that of countless young DREAMers who have come to the States to flee the violence & economic injustice of their own countries of origin.
We will return to our roots as followers of the God who demanded that the Promised Land of ex-slaves be a place where all foreigners are given dignity: "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:33-34)
We will spontaneously see the face of Christ in the faces of every immigrant we meet: "I [Jesus] was hungry and you gave me food, I [Jesus] was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I [Jesus] was a foreigner and you welcomed me..." As the late Christian theologian Jim McClendon said of the disciples of Jesus in Matthew 25: they will be known by "their unreckoned generosity, their uncalculating love, their aimless faithfulness."
We will pledge allegiance to a lifestyle of entertaining angels by lavishing hospitality on our immigrant brothers and sisters.
We will be reminded of our own family histories of immigration. My grandfather came from his native England to the States as a child, his own father seeking work as a school custodian in the Pacific Northwest.
We wil pray the words of Cesar Chavez:
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the spirit will be alive among us.
Let the spirit flourish and grow;
So we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.
Will you consider joining us at the border?