I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Last week, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, rector of St. Columba’s, invited me to join him and a group of clergy from around the country, including the Rev. Jim Quigley from St. Alban’s, on a 48-hour pilgrimage to the U.S./Mexico border. By the time this message reaches you, we will be on our way to El Paso, Texas.
I travel with a heavy heart, knowing that our southern border is the site of large-scale human suffering and the focal point of our most divisive political discourse. Yet I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet and pray with leaders of Borderland Ministries, an agency of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, and to cross the border to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. There, we will visit and pray with those fleeing violence and poverty in Central America in asylum-seeking shelter areas. Three Anglican bishops of Mexico will join us.
This is what Ledlie wrote to the people of St. Columba’s:
We organized this brief 48-hour pilgrimage not to engage in political action, protests, or service projects. We are going to meet with those seeking asylum, with fellow Christians and people of faith responding to this crisis; to learn from them, to pray, and to discern steps we can take in support. We are going because we care; we are going to bear witness to God’s call to seek the face of Christ in all persons, with reconciling love for our neighbor.
The Episcopal Church’s witness along the U.S./Mexico border is inspiring, and the context for that witness is sobering. Equally inspiring is the Episcopal Church’s decades long commitment to advocate for both border safety and a just, merciful immigration policy. EDOW congregations have also responded with sacrificial love to the global migrant crisis and the urgent need for immigration policy reform. I am honored to travel with Ledlie and Jim as your bishop.
I will post photos and reflections on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (search for the hashtag #AdventAtTheBorder), sharing what we experience and learn. I ask your prayers for those who, like Joseph and Mary, have fled their homeland seeking safety for themselves and their newborn son, and that we, as a people, might respond with the compassion of Jesus.