Advent is a season of hope, of waiting, of watching for signs of God’s reign among us. It’s a season for remembering the people around us, of opening our hearts and learning to see the image of God not only in family and friends but also in “strangers.” In this spirit, Strangers Among Us is a wonderful series of advent reflections on immigration, published by the Virginia United Methodist Conference. It’s a helpful guide for examining the Bible and immigration, and you can download it here for free.
From the Introduction
In this season of Advent, we remember how the Holy Family walked this earth as refugees. As they followed the Roman decree — as they fled across the border to escape Herod’s law of the land–even up to the day he testified to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” they walked as strangers among us.
This is the scandal of Bethlehem: If God invaded our world once unawares, God could do it again. Today. Anywhere. Among any people. Anytime.
Yes — of course — we have this all figured out. We have scholars who tell us when and where and how the next coming will occur. But what if they are as wrong today as the scholars were in Jerusalem 2010 years ago?
What if Christ is among us as a stranger today? Would he still be in the most unlikely place? With the most unlikely parents? At the most inconvenient time? Could that time be this Advent?
If so — how would God want us to treat the least of these strangers among us? In our nation of immigrants, the issue of immigration has become a hot topic. Now, as perhaps never before, we feel a need to maintain our own safety. Enforce the laws! Reinforce the borders! Watch out — there are strangers among us!
This study is an invitation to ask how God would view our concerns. We may even hear the voice of angels unawares as we listen to our proudest Americans — those who most recently earned the right to call themselves citizens. These proud Americans do not want to abolish the borders or repeal the laws. They only want an immigration policy that works as advertised, with justice and liberty for all.
Surely, those who love the land of the free and the home of the brave want nothing less. Surely, God Almighty wants the same. As we read the word together in this holy season, let us ask: What would God do with the strangers among us? What would God do with strangers and sojourners — like us?
Strangers Among Us was written by The Reverend Larry Jent, Elder and pastor in The United Methodist Church, and CoChair of the Virginia United Methodist Conference Commission on Ethnic Minority Concerns and Advocacy. Larry is a person of Cherokee and Sac & Fox heritage.