Saturday, March 16, 2013

Immigration Reform Liturgy and Sermon

While I'll spend some more time later reflecting on the Immigration Advocacy Workshop we just held at Saint Peter's Church where I currently serve as Vicar, I figured I could at least post the homily and liturgy we used for the text immediately.  Click the link below for a .pdf of the liturgy, which borrows from Lutheran, Catholic and evangelical resources.  

Immigration Reform Liturgy at Saint Peter's Church

Additionally, the a rough manuscript of the homily I preached on Saint Matthew 25: 34 - 40 follows:

Born in the wilderness, a young Israelite sojourner with tears in her eyes steps foot into the Promised Land for the first time. A poor Gentile woman is welcomed into God’s covenant with Israel through Christ. Fast-forward a couple thousand years… Dutch Anabaptists arrive in New Amsterdam, later to be renamed New York, having braved sea and storm in order to be safe from religious persecution. A recently freed African-American family, whose ancestors were brought to America in chains, make the long journey north to New York from the Carolinas seeking safety and economic opportunity. An Irish widower, with two young daughters in tow arrives on Ellis Island. Pro-democratic activists flee from a newly Communist China. Persecuted Hmong families arrive from Vietnam. A Nicaraguan family in a similar situation flees from the US-backed Contras. A migrant worker hopes for a legal status that will allow him to receive just wages. Today, a young Mauritanian girl escapes from forced prostitution and seeks asylum here in our city.

I’m a vicar, studying to be a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and I way too often hear from folks both at my seminary and in other churches that the Church, that the Gospel no longer seems relevant in our society, that it’s hard to find Christ in our contemporary situation. When I hear that sort of talk, I find it quite odd… to be fair, there’s oftentimes when Jesus can be quite cryptic in what he says in the gospels, but when you listen to the stories I just mentioned and then listen to Christ’s words in today’s gospel reading, I have no worry at all that the gospel, that Christ, is still relevant in our world today, as he’s always been. Christ is with us, and it’s amazingly good new that Christ shows up where we least expect him to… in simple water, in Words, in bread and wine and in the faces of those oppressed, those seeking refuge those made to feel not welcome in our society. It’s also amazing good news that churches from across the political spectrum agree on this… today’s liturgy uses prayers from Catholic, Lutheran but also evangelical sources. Christians can’t help but see Christ in those refugees and migrants who most need immigration reform, and across the country we’re starting the conversation about how to respond. Thanks for being here, and thanks for joining us.

God's peace,

Dustin is currently a vicar at the Lutheran Office for World Community and Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan, having recently completed his second year of a Masters of Divinity program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice building in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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