“Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed.  And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, or the widow.” Jeremiah 22:3  

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

We see our nation as forward-looking and progressive, a champion of democracy and human rights.  We decry the oppression happening in other countries, grateful that can’t happen here.  We are better than that.  

“Give me your tired, your poor …”  Emma Lazarus would weep.  For the most part we sympathize with orphans and widows … at least those we know, or in communities like ours.  It seems we are less charitable toward aliens, the very people oppressors have robbed of freedom, safe shelter, and fair opportunities … “the wretched refuse of [other] teeming shores.”  I hear “They’re all illegal … taking our jobs … living off our tax dollars.”

I’m not condoning illegal behavior.  I also can’t condone hypocrisy … judgmentalism and shunning, even as we profess Christian charity.  Tensions between ethnic groups is as old as our nation’s history.  Newcomers were not welcomed by those already here.  The perceived threat has persisted for centuries. Nations do have limited resources.  There is not an easy solution to a hard problem.  But can’t we discuss the situation without an attitude of derision and demonization?  Are we following the admonishment of Jeremiah simply because we refrain from violence?  Have we become complacent and indifferent to the perils and traumas people face in their homelands? 

I remember a verse I read several years ago outside Untunjambili Lutheran Church in South Africa: “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12)  Today’s verses challenge me to do more than simply remember it, but to act with justice and righteousness.  

Merciful God, Forgive our cynicism and indifference.  Give us grace to look for solutions to problems with understanding and respect toward differences.  Help us see opportunities to befriend and give us the courage to act .  Amen  

Verla Olson