Sanctuary: A pause to reflect
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has called the Episcopal Church, a church of sixteen countries worldwide, into the Jesus Movement in which we ourselves reflect the holy love of Jesus in the world. In just a few short months, the Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation and author of “Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other and the Spirit of Transformation,” along with other notables from the wider Episcopal Church will visit us in our diocese over three days, November 17 – 19. This is a “Revival,” one of six the Presiding Bishop has or will give in Episcopal dioceses in 2017 and 2018. He will be sharing his vision of “The Jesus Movement” and how we are called to follow Jesus. Not just THAT we are called to follow Jesus, but WHAT that might look like on a day to day basis. He could, for example, help us discern how we are called to respond to the plight of immigrants. Do we make any exceptions to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors? What if our neighbors do not have legal immigration status, which an estimated 3.2 million people (8% of the total population) in California do not?
The sort of love that Jesus demonstrates throughout the Gospel is that which knows no boundaries – no excuses, no exclusions, no requirements. In fact, as 1 John puts it, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) And, 1 John implores us in another verse, “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
The question for us is how God is calling us to BE for our immigrant brothers and sisters, both those with papers and those without papers? How are our actions consistent with Jesus – consistent with a people who call themselves “the Jesus Movement” – when we have so many questions about whether our brothers and sisters are “legal” or “illegal,” “residents” or “aliens?”
The answer, I believe, is Love. Do our actions – helping our undocumented residents or not – align with Jesus’ command not to turn our backs on the resident aliens: “You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice…. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:17–18). How best can we, the holy people of Jesus, best show our love to all people?
Have we obeyed what Jesus called the second great commandment, to “Love your neighbor as yourself?” (Matthew 22:39).
This, I believe, is the test.
If you have any questions or contributions, please email me at DeaconNancy@diosanjoaquin.org.