Human beings and our ancestors have been migrating for millions of years, since long before we became Homo sapiens. Everyone reading this has ancestors who migrated out of Africa. The Americas were populated in repeated waves of migrants who came first from northeast Asia, either across the Bering land bridge or by small boat down the west coast, beginning some 15-20,000 years ago. Later influxes came from Europe beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries. Those were succeeded by colonists, slaves, deported convicts, soldiers, and people searching for a better life and/or fleeing oppression, war, and violence.
The biblical narrative is also filled with long journeys and migrations, beginning with Adam and Eve, refugees from Eden. Abram leaves Haran for Canaan; his descendants go down into Egypt; and Moses leads them out toward a land of promise. Later the Israelites are deported to Babylon, and Cyrus sets them free to return. God’s own self migrates into human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, and calls together a network of friends to become his body migrating and bearing good news across the globe.
This nation still struggles with the tension between immigrants and the original peoples of this land, often ignoring the serial migrations that have shaped its history. If we look back far enough, we might come to realize that the land is God’s, and cannot ultimately belong to any of us. That understanding forms the base of the biblical injunction to love our neighbors, particularly the wayfarer, the sojourner, and the alien among us—for we are all sojourners on this earth. None of us leaves the planet alive, and we do not take the land to our graves—our graves take us back to the land.
While we walk this earth, we have the ability to bless those who walk this way with us. RefugeeNet is one way of blessing, offering welcome and the support of a community to the sojourners around us. Those who participate in that kind of community soon discover themselves blessed beyond imagining. Befriending the stranger and the newcomer expands our view, showing us novel faces of God. Even our understanding and worldview can migrate into new and unexpected possibilities—that’s what it means to learn, or to repent and amend one’s life.
We live in a society that’s stirred up by fear of the other. The biblical command is to love the other, for each one bears the image of God. The Diocese of San Diego knows something about what it means to love fearlessly. We can practice that fearless love by embracing the foreigner or visitor in our midst, and expecting to entertain an angel, bringing us the good news of God’s abiding love for all. Learn more about the ministry of RefugeeNet here: www.refugee-net.org.
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