Sunday is my day to pray about immigration. I believe that it is in the heart of prayer that dormant potential is awakened, prejudices are softened, and genuine change begins. What to do about the "stranger within thy gates" (Exodus 20:8-10) is an age-old question. The Ten Commandments were initially addressed to a growing, migrating Jewish tribe. "The stranger within thy gates" was mentioned in the Fourth Commandment, which instructs that everyone within our territorial midst - from our families and those under our roof, to the face in the crowd - would now receive a blessing under the new law. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates” (ibid.)
This new rule was a great equalizer giving everyone, from family member and beasts of burden to the man on the street, a break. But we shouldn’t overlook the commandment’s illustration of the delicate and necessary balance that exists between blessing and obligation, also critical to the immigration debate. Accepting the blessing ourselves we must also consider those around us and contribute to the good of the community. There is a moral obligation that applies to all sides and parties to shift from self-interest to the spiritual, moral, and legal solutions that help the community, as a whole, progress.
There is a good reason that servants, cattle, and strangers are included in the Sabbath rest. A full one-out-of-seven-day pause to reflect on the needs of others – family, neighbors, workers, and strangers in our gates – isn’t a bad idea. A one day a week pause to get a better sense of God's goodness - and of every man's capacity to see and experience abundant good right where they are, without infringing the right and freedom of others - is a really good thing.
My prayer for today is to understand that God’s infinite goodness isn’t a diminishing resource or under economic threat. Sourced in Spirit, this good is practical and unlimited. It may be expressed in a good idea, helpful talent, a generous spirit, and energetic hope. It may be found in openness to new ideas, the ability to forgive and move on, and the humility and willingness to work hard. Like sunlight, it is available to one and all, without precondition or limit, to bless but not to threaten any other expression of good.
I hope you will join me in this Sunday prayer.
This blog springs from ideas shared in several articles I have written on this subject. If any of the ideas inspire you to go deeper into the subject, you may wish to visit the following links:
Immigration and 'the stranger within our gates'
A healing response to immigration worries
Doors open to religious dialogue
News alert: Prayer alert
You may also wish to visit my:
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no