S (Scripture): Ezekiel 20:5 “‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel I swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to them, “I am the Lord your God.” ‘”
O (Observation): God knows that some elders of Israel are coming to Ezekiel to confront God. God puts on Ezekiel’s lips the promise that God made to God’s people (to be their God), and also the memories of how God’s people failed to honor God in the wake of the great Exodus, where God’s people found freedom and abundance in the promised land.
God’s claim on God’s people however, does not run out…ever. Despite their shortcomings, God remains faithful to God’s covenant.
A (Application): “We are to fear and love the Lord, so that…”
This phrase is used to begin the explanation of each of the 10 Commandments, as written by Martin Luther. Ezekiel is called to share a message that is supposed to instill a fear and love for the Lord. Remember the covenant? Remember your failures? Remember how those ancestors were made never to see the promised land?
And so what impact does this have on us as God’s people? We can look to Ezekiel, and be reminded of stories of faithfulness and of waywardness. And yet, God remains faithful regardless of our actions.
Last night, a group from our congregation, known as “Theology on Tap, “discussed the issue of immigration and the church. Welcoming and bringing aid to refugees was not a controversial topic for us. However, we recognized the struggle with the “sensation” that our “country is being taken over by illegal immigrants.”
We recognize the role of government and seek for a legal path for immigration for all who wish to come to this great country.
And as this group gathered, we harkened back to our own stories of our ancestors and the reasons they emigrated to the United States and when. We also considered stories from the Scriptures on extending hospitality to the stranger (Good Samaritan), feeding the hungry / clothing the naked (Matthew 25).
Let us not forget that God has made a promise to us in many ways: as infants coming to the font, as immigrants to this land, as people steeped in sin and sorrow.
God comes to us…ALL of us…and as the church we are called to accept and welcome all people. And as we grow together, may we remember all that God has done for us…and may we allow God to reach into our hearts and transform our shortcomings into gifts of hospitality to our neighbors.
So…what about you? What are your immigration stories (personal or otherwise)?
I love to tell of my Irish great-grandmother coming off the boat at Ellis Island in 1927. She and several of her siblings and my great-great grandmother were on the Thuringia as they came as immigrants to the US. (Her picture is at the top of this article. She’s the one with the really bushy hair in the center of the photo.)
P (Prayer): Lord, keep us mindful that we are forgiven sinners. Make us humble in heart, mind, and soul. Make us agents of change and give us hearts for hospitality for all immigrants into this country. Amen.