Sarah went with him, journeying too.
Slaves down in Egypt fled Pharaoh's army;
Ruth left the home and people she knew.
Soldiers were coming! They had to flee.
Taking young Jesus, they crossed the border;
So was our Lord a young refugee.
After all, the founders of this nation were greatly influenced by the writings of philosophers who had, for centuries, expounded on the ideas of liberty and justice.
And, whether or not they were members of a Christian denomination, they were also influenced by the teachings of Jesus, who tempered all of those lofty philosophical ideas with direct acts of compassion.
In this morning’s Gospel lesson, we meet two social outcasts – an older woman who had been suffering with a hemorrhage for twelve years. It was bad enough that she was a woman and therefore inferior – never mind being unable to bear a child – but she had been bleeding for twelve years and was, therefore, considered “unclean”.
But, she is the daughter of Jarius, one of the leaders of the synagogue. I guess, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is a truth as old as time.
Well, our American history has a different story to tell, doesn’t it? We have separated family right from the founding of this country with our treatment of Native Americans. We’ve done the same with African slaves.
The only ones who are native to this land are the indigenous First People who were here when the Pilgrims landed on the Mayflower. There’s a reason that it says on the bottom of the dollar bill. “E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.”
We have been strangers, "aliens" too.
May we reach out and offer a welcome
As we have all been welcomed by you.
BUNESSAN 188.8.131.52 D ("Morning Has Broken")
Later, Ruth went with Naomi, her mother-in-law, because her love of family led her to take risks and leave the home she knew for a new home.
Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt when his parents had to flee from Herod for his safety. Jesus taught that one of the greatest commandments is to love our neighbors; these neighbors include foreigners (Luke 10:25-37 with references to Leviticus 19:18, 33-34). He also taught that all people will be judged on their compassion for those in need and their welcome of strangers (Matthew 25:31-46).
Today, people are immigrants for many of the same reasons that these biblical people were. The Church is called to follow the Bible's teachings by welcoming and supporting immigrants today.
The hymn tune, Bunessan, is a traditional Gaelic melody that was originally associated with the 19th century Christmas carol "Child in a Manger," by Mary Macdonald. When Lachlan Macbean translated the Gaelic hymn to English, he named the melody after the small village on the Scottish island of Mull. Eleanor Farjeon wrote a new hymn to this tune, "Morning Has Broken," that was published in 1931.
This hymn is part of "In the Beginning: Genesis in Scripture, Prayer and Song", a service patterned after the Service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas and based on the stories of Genesis (Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Women and Joseph). This creative service is a great resource for a lay Sunday or instead of a guest preacher. http://www.carolynshymns.com/genesis_service.html
Nine more hymns to support immigrants and refugees are available at http://www.carolynshymns.com/topical_index.html#sublist_I