A the request of a number of my colleagues, this week’s blog post is adapted from reflections I offered at the UUA staff chapel several weeks ago.-Ed.
Two summers ago, on July 29 2010, I was restless, pacing, watching Facebook for word from Phoenix as one by one Unitarian Universalist leaders were arrested in an act of civil disobedience. The discussion prior to this had been riveting; some people were saying that the call that had come from our partners to protest SB 1070 was another call to Selma. At the recent General Assembly the vote was to go to Phoenix in 2012 at the request of our partners and hold a justice GA. Immigration justice had jumped from something I was generally aware of to something on the front burner of my professional life. I was paying attention. (more…)
We are pleased to announce the publication of a collection of 22 brief excerpts from sermons and writings about the topic of immigration offered for Unitarian Universalist congregations. Each excerpt is followed by questions for discussion. The excerpts and discussion questions are suitable for in-person discussion groups and theological reflection groups, as well as for on-line discussion and individual reflection and journaling to help Unitarian Universalists prepare to engage in immigration justice work as an expression of their faith. Topics include Spiritual and Theological Grounding for Immigration Justice Work, Perspectives on Arrest for Acts of Civil Disobedience, Moral Perspectives on Economic and Legal Realities, and Visions. We’d love to know how you, your congregation, or your group make use of this material.- Ed
Rev. Ann Willever traveled with Borderlinks to the Arizona-Mexico border last month, part of a 23-person delegation that included nine youth and young adults, five ministers, and four seminarians. In this post, she shares some of her many stories from that trip. –Ed.
After spending the night in the Borderlinks dorm in Tucson, we set out the next morning in two vans with our first stop Green Valley, just south of Tucson. There we met Shura, a woman who volunteers with the Samaritans, whose mission is to prevent deaths in the southern AZ desert by providing water and first aid to migrants. Shura welcomed us into her home where she had arranged an array of items collected from the nearby desert on her dining room table – things that had been carried or worn by migrants…things left behind when they were either apprehended by border patrol or overcome by dehydration or sun stroke: clothing (including a small child’s Mickey Mouse sweater), shoes, children’s books, baby bottles, beautifully embroidered tortilla warmers. A pair of high heeled shoes – perhaps for the job interview a migrant might anticipate when reaching the US. She had many stories of encounters with migrants wandering in the desert over the years – one of the saddest had to be that of the 42 year old man suffering extreme edema who was searching for his son, who he hadn’t seen for two and half years. (more…)
As we prepare for Justice GA in Phoenix, Unitarian Universalists need to attend to how we engage as partners with those whose lives are most impacted by the social and legal effects of U.S. policy, law, and attitudes regarding migrants. This week, Janice Marie Johnson, UUA Multicultural Growth Director, offers her reflection on partnership.-Ed.
The Latin American Theology of Accompaniment offers an important glimpse into the spiritual practice of being in partnership. I first heard this term just a couple of days ago when I participated in worship led by Rev. Jackie Clements at Finding Our Way Home 2012, the annual gathering for religious professionals of color.
We learned that the idea of accompaniment was put forth by Roberto S. Goizueta in the book Caminemos con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 1995).We considered how the verb ‘acompañar’ in Spanish is different in complexity, texture and weight from the verb ‘to accompany’ in English which can be used to refer to going to the grocery store with someone. At our retreat someone said, “’it’s like being joined at the hip.” (more…)
“The First Sight of the New World: Columbus Discovering America”
In January UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery on the General Assembly business agenda. The Doctrine of Discovery—the legal justification for colonizing the Americas and subordinating aboriginal people—is a narrative unfamiliar to many Americans. The Doctrine is so deeply embedded in American and Western culture that it hides in plain sight. (more…)
In the month of February, we will provide materials to help Unitarian Universalists of all ages engage in theological reflection and prepare for the work of Justice GA in Phoenix and the work of our local congregations in support of immigration justice. In this post, we are pleased and proud to announce the publication of With Justice and Compassion: Immigration Sessions for Children’s Religious Education, by Mandy Neff.
The four-session curriculum includes plans for children in grades 1-3 and children in grades 4-6, as well as plans for a Family Night, where children share what they have learned and take part in a service project. Grounded in our second Unitarian Universalist principle and in the Buddhist lovingkindness meditation, the curriculum invites children to explore their own family stories while learning about immigration in the United States. It lifts up justice and compassion as guiding values as we consider immigration justice issues in our own time.
Please let us know if you use this program, and tell us how it comes to life in your congregation!
Perhaps you have a little more time than usual for watching movies at this time of year. Perhaps you are looking for a good youth group or other small group activity. Perhaps you are looking for a selection for your congregation’s book and movie group. Here are some recommendations for movies that explore immigration issues. -Ed.
The Visitor (2007) 104 minutes, PG-13
In this fictional drama, an American college professor and a young immigrant couple grapple with the treatment of immigrants and the legal process post-9/11. The film makers are using the film to call attention to issues of due process, detention and deportation. Learn more about what you can do in response. (more…)
This is another in a series of posts exploring the wisdom Jewish and Christian scripture and tradition offer as we strive to faithfully respond to immigration issues. This is an excerpt from Rev. Lucinda Duncan’s sermon, “Taking Jesus Seriously,” preached at Follen Church Society in Lexington, MA on December 19, 2010- Ed.
In the Gospels, Jesus says:
Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
A more accurate translation would have said, Blessed are the destitute…
What is this all about? Was as Jesus saying that God actually blessed the destitute, the beggars? Was Jesus simply a romantic charismatic liberalwho thought everyone could be taken in and fed?
The reality is that Jesus was saying that Godblessedthedestitute, the beggars, because they were the poor who had then hit hard times. After struggling to eke out a basic minimum living, they were crushed by debt, disease, or drought and could no longer make a living. They needed to beg on the streets to gather enough coins to put some food into the mouths of their children. Now let me just say: We know these people. In modern times these are the people who, in desperation, pay a year’s wage to a mafia coyote for the opportunity to risk life and limb to be transported illegally into the United States. Once here these are the people who are hired by major corporations to pick crops for substandard wages, to pluck chickens for fast food chains, or to wait around in groups on empty city corners to see if someone might drive by to offer them a single day’s wage.
Do you get what I’m talking about here? Yes, it’s our immigration issue, and it’s not going away. Yes, I’m saying that the people Jesus would call blessed by God are these very people, the undocumented immigrants carted into the United States by crime rings who care not a whit for the life or safety of any of their recruits and who are now the cause for such a ruckus in states like Arizona who believes every undocumented immigrant is a criminal trespasser.
If we are to take the words and the actions of Jesus seriously, we need to look at and listen to the needs of the poor, the undocumented, and the impoverished in this nation. We have the resources to do this. We used to have the heart. Could listening to what Jesus had to say, and how he lived his life, help us to realize hope and dignity must be supported somewhere, by someone or some people? Does listening to the words and looking at the life of Jesus change any of your minds about our immigration issues, about the minor actions — like the DREAM Act – that could possibly affect some of those in the right age group to win legal approval from the land in which they were raised? Can we bring ourselves to see what is morally relevant about Jesus’ philosophy and work together to provide hope and dignity to those who are settling this land? How seriously do we want to take Jesus?
Rev. Lucinda Duncan is Minister Emerita of the Follen Church Society, Lexington, Massachusetts.
With thanks to the Rev. Sonya Sukalski for this post! -ed.
We accept life’s gifts with grace and gratitude and use them to bless the world.
This piece of the chalice lighting often heard at Starr King School for the Ministry is an easy sentiment to connect to at Thanksgiving. Through the jostling at the dinner table about who says “Grace” and prodding about every person present voicing their gratitude, we try to reconnect to the abundance of harvest time. “Grace” as a word for what we do before a meal (sometimes, perhaps not often enough) has not always retained its meaning as something we enjoy but did not earn.
The apple tree in my back yard reminds me of this and opens doors to the joy of our interdependence. I have to pause to thank the woman who planted and nurtured the tree. I have to thank the workers who laid pipe and keep water flowing so that in times of drought, it was able to have life-sustaining liquid. I ponder the first people to try apples (Eve and Adam?), and know apples were good food. I do very little to this tree- I trim off the branches that break due to the weight of the apples, try to pare back the blossoms or tiny apples so that the branches don’t break, and then sit back and enjoy the shade. Hopefully taking time to notice the beauty of the fruit growing, and praying that I notice when the apples are ready to harvest. In the harvest, I am always limited by the time, help and imagination for products or recipes. There are always more apples than I know what to do with. Seeing this abundance connects me to grace, and helps me appreciate a world of plenty. (more…)