There is not a test that can tell us who to admit and who to turn away.
There is not a test that can show us who is worthy of being helped and who will use our dollars to buy more booze.
There is not a test to make sure that all of our values are completely the same.
“We show compassion to everybody,” said Obama just now.
And we do.
Governor Synder will not keep Michigan safe by turning away Syrian refugees.
We cannot be kept safe by staying in our safe little circles.
We cannot be kept safe by turning away anyone who is not like us.
We cannot be kept safe by thinking that we get to decide who is more worthy of our help.
We cannot be kept safe.
We can be redeemed by opening our hands.
We can be redeemed by opening our minds.
We can be redeemed by realizing that the same terror the people in Paris felt and still feel is the same terror that refugees experience. Except it was right at home, in a place they can never go back to. In streets they played in as children, walked in as lovers. Shopped in, skipped down. And they cannot go back.
I don’t know all of the answers, or even most of them. But I do know that when fear threatens, when we allow that fear to make us mean, to make us withdraw, to make us circle the wagons, well, then the mission of those who are against us is accomplished.
What greater destruction could they dream of for the people who have been driven from their home country than that there is no safe haven? What better way to complete a massacre than this, when they don’t have to kill their own people, when we will do that for them, when we twist and become like them, pushing out anyone who isn’t christian, pushing away anyone we might deem suspect?
We will do that for them as winter falls and little children freeze to death.
We will accomplish their goal, will play into their hands when we don’t feed people, and when we become so wrapped up in our warm house/Christmas shopping/should I get a new car/what should we have for dinner/don’t let those people in they stink/don’t let those people in they’re Mexican/we sang that hymn too fast/to slow/you fill in the blank with you own — Bull Shit.
I watched a pregnant woman hang on a window ledge 25 feet above the ground and plead for help as her people were massacred on the other side of that wall.
I watched a man who came out of his house to comfort the dying people in the street that the medics could not get to. To bear witness, he said, to their ends.
We cannot close our borders. We cannot put up a wall. We cannot turn our backs and hope for the best, tending our own green and bountiful gardens while a WHOLE WORLD STARVES.
I don’t know what we do to save a world that is living out end of times predictions.
But I do know that we will not be kept safe behind walls, looking into faces that are the same as ours, praying in only English, thinking that somehow we have this salvation thing cornered.
Our salvation isn’t found in Christmas gifts, not even in the gorgeous and expectant season of Advent. Not in turkey dinners, not in saying that the people who need help cannot get help from us, shouted behind our closed door; as children and old people die of starvation and neglect and cold.
Our salvation is found in taking them in.
We are the birth pangs.
We are a disturbance to a system that is stacked against the poor and the oppressed.
We are the great heaving AGONY of a new world being born.
The bible says that Christ is making things new. And if we are the hands and the feet of Him then it is US who are making things new.
Not making things the same.
Not making things comfortable.
Not keeping out those who desperately need sanctuary.
God with be our brothers and sisters around the world, not just in Paris.
And though Advent is still a few weeks away, may we live in the expectation that a baby born to a migrant woman whom no one would take in, on a cold and starry night, will be the child who will redeem a world that is in so much pain.
That child is present and alive in you.
And in me.
And we are called, truly we are, to care for each other. To put our own selves aside and to walk the way of the cross, which is not a fragrant path with sparkling fountains, not a path walked in our comfortable shoes.
It is a path fraught with danger and politics, a path littered with the bodies of the little children we allow to die every single day. A path we will walk barefoot, to the base of a hill, where our end will meet us in the form of a man who holds out his hand and welcomes us in.
This is Jesus love.
This is a Jesus Movement.
Turn off the TV.
Get to Work.