Labor Day and Immigration

Labor Day and immigration. Are there connections? Well, pretty obviously, since a huge portion of our labor force in the United States is made up of recent immigrants — documented and undocumented.

Yesterday, in the parish my wife and I attend, that connection was made pretty clearly. First, by the sermon based largely on this text from the Sunday lectionary:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…” (Hebrews 13:2a)

The sermon made appropriate connections between this text, the long biblical history of Israel being commanded to treat the alien well, since they themselves had  been aliens in a foreign land, and our responsibilties to “the stranger” in our land today.
And secondly, by an adult forum led by a Roman Catholic priest active in the “new sanctuary movement” whereby congregations and individuals can show solidarity to immigrant families (and in more ways than providing classic “sanctuary” in churches).

This might entail housing them, accompanying them to immigration hearings, deportation proceedings, etc. and assuring that they are provided due process under the law. It may also entail advocacy to try and change some of our immigration laws so that they might actually approach being “just” and heeding biblical ethics on showing “hospitality to strangers.”

It was a good Sunday. And it gave us plenty to reflect on as we enjoy this “last day of summer,” ever conscious of our privilege and of God’s call to love mercy and act kindly, yes — but also to do justice.  I cannot get these words out of my head and heart today, reverberating to the great hymn tune “Finlandia” to which we sang them  yesterday:

This is my song, O God of all the nations/ a song of peace for lands afar and mine/ This is my home, the country where my heart is/ here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine/ but other hearts in other lands are beating/with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean/ and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine/ but other lands have sunlight too, and clover/ and skies are everywhere as blue as mine/ O hear my song, thou God of all the nations/ a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms/ Thy kingdom come; on earth thy will be done/ Let God be lifted up till all shall serve him/ and hearts united learn to live as one/ O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations/ myself I give thee; let thy will be done!

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