GATHERING SONG – “Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore”
Words & Music: Cesareo Gabaraín
Psalm 137 (Edited): By the Waters of the Atlantic Ocean
By the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our drums, for there the border patrol asked us for songs and the vigilantes asked for laughter, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? By the waters we weep, and we remember. We remember Liberia, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa…! We remember Mexico and El Salvador. We remember Honduras and Darfur. We remember Colombia and Bosnia. We remember Cuba and Haiti. We remember China and Romania. We remember both South and North Korea ….By the waters we remember.
On the willows we hung up our guitars and drums. We hung up our hopes. We hung up our homes, our land, our dreams. We hung up our quest for education, our hunger, our thirst. We hung up our friends, our traditions, our culture. We hung up our family ties, our food, our language. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? We sing only the song of the homeless, the unemployed, the laments of hunger and thirst, of death and destruction, the songs of the songless, the hungry, the thirsty, the songs of the lonely, the songs of the dying. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
PRAYER FOR IMMIGRANT STUDENTS
We gather to seek safety from a world that sets neighbor against neighbor. We gather to seek safety from the temptation to draw and enforce boundaries that mean we can describe other people as not our problem.
We gather to seek safety from a worldview that values us primarily as consumers, as wealth-generators, as units of production and consumption. We gather to seek safety from the binaries that bind and constrain us. We gather to seek safety from the very institution(s) and church(es) in whose name we gather, in which orthodoxy and hierarchy have been tools of oppression and abuse. We name ourselves as immigrant students. We pray that in our seeking, we may create that safety for which we yearn. We pray that, starting here, starting now, our seeking may crack open the empires that we resist and turn away from so that the whole world may be transformed into a place of safety and justice for all.
SONG – “By the rivers of Babylon”
Negro Spiritual * Arranged By Amos George Tetteh
Performed by One Voice Choir Ghana
SCRIPTURE READING – Matthew 2:13-23 (The Message)
13 After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child and wants to kill him.”
14-15 Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”
16-18 Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.) That’s when Jeremiah’s revelation was fulfilled:
A sound was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much lament.
Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone,
dead and buried.
19-20 Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.”
21-23 Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. When he heard, though, that Archelaus had succeeded his father, Herod, as king in Judea, he was afraid to go there. But then Joseph was directed in a dream to go to the hills of Galilee. On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was a fulfillment of the prophetic words, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
CREED FOR IMMIGRANTS
Woo Lim Kwak
We believe in almighty God, who guided God’s people in exile and in exodus, the God of Joseph in Egypt and of Daniel in Babylon, the God of foreigners and immigrants. We believe in Jesus Christ a displaced Galilean, who was born away from his people and his home, who had to flee the country with his parents when his life was in danger, and who upon returning to his own country had to suffer the oppression of the tyrant Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power. He was persecuted, beaten, tortured, and finally accused and condemned to death unjustly. But on the third day, this scorned Jesus rose from the dead, not as a foreigner but to offer us citizenship in heaven.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the eternal immigrant from God’s Kin-dom among us, who speaks all languages, lives in all countries, and reunites all races. We believe that the church is the secure home for all foreigners and believers who constitute it; it speaks the same language and has the same purpose. We believe that the communion of saints begins when we accept the diversity of the saints. We believe in forgiveness, which makes us all equal, and in reconciliation, which identifies us more than does race, language or nationality. We believe that in the Resurrection, God will unite us as one people in which all are distinct, and all are alike at the same time. We believe in eternal life beyond this world, where no one will be an immigrant, but all will be citizens of God’s Kin-dom that has no end. Amen
“A Place for Everyone Heavenly”
Father and Mother, we pray for the immigrant families, those who have built their lives outside of their homeland; those who had to run from their cities, leave their homes, and their environments because of death threats, dangers, natural disasters, or for better social economic opportunities or education, because they could not see another possibility, because they had no other possibility. Let the utopia of the gospel become real in our communities. Let us be the table that receives all ethnic groups, races, languages, cultures, and families. Let us be the banquet that receives those who have been excluded, so we may all be invited to sit down and share with Jesus.
Let us be the place of protection, place of learning, place of peace, of food, of fostering, of family, cities of refuge and care. A place without borders, without stigmas, without xenophobia, without homophobia, without racism, without machismo. A place for everyone.
In this time of learning and reflection, as we physically leave this space, O God, open our hearts and minds to your presence. Send the Holy Spirit to touch us and teach us to more fully embrace the call Christ has on our lives. As we remember others who travel paths unknown to us, who speak other languages, and are in our land both with and without documents, fill us with your compassion. Enable us to see your face in the face of the stranger and enable them to see your face and love in our faces. When our paths intersect, may we embrace one another with your love and continue our journey together by praying simply that you change us, God, change us that your will may be done in all things. Amen.