Good morning. It is such a great pleasure to be here. Thank you Rev. Michael for giving me the opportunity to share with you today. And thank you for hospitality yesterday, as a group on a pilgrimage, we enjoyed learning about this community a little more. As mentioned, our lovely guests are here learning and growing with us in our ministries at Rio Grande Borderland Ministry.
Holy Spirit church from Missoula, Montana like St. Paul’s are our Parish Partners in RGBM. What a blessing for me to be with two of our parish partners, here worshiping together, breaking bread together. We can’t do this work alone and with your partnership the light of our work gets brighter and God’s compassion to our migrant sisters and brothers grows stronger. Thank you for your commitment and we look forward to the work we will do together to bring God’s kingdom to our borders in this area, Juarez and Palomas.
As we continue the journey of this season on this 4th Sunday of Lent which means we are closer to the celebration of Easter, rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection. But we are not there yet so we continue to prepare , we continue to be in a season of prayer , a special season in trying to welcome a new creation, a new way of life and reflect on how we must live a Christian life. Reflecting on what we need to remove from our lives to be able to become that new creation that Christ invites us to as we follow Christ and what he taught us about and in Christ glory of the resurrection.
We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, we promote this love we hear about during our sunday worship, doing prayer and in community. In the Psalm today we hear that we create these changes in our lives daily then we rejoice in happiness. Those that trust in the Lord shout for joy because we are true to our heart.
In the gospel reading today Jesus shares a parable to the Pharisees & the scribes. These two communities follow closely the many laws that the jewish community instilled in the society at that time. So they questioned Jesus as he didn’t allow these laws to separate him from the people and the work he was called to do, bring God’s kingdom to us, Christ words and actions makes it attainable to all. He had compassion and built community instead of being legalistic but instead heard the stories and stood with people to welcome all. Many times those that broke these laws were called sinners. These many laws created a distance to God for some. It created a system where only certain people could get close to God and God was taken away for others.
And Jesus came to tell us God’s love, compassion and forgiveness was attainable to those that desire it wholeheartedly. Jesus is constantly teaching us how to become our best self. During Lent let’s figure out what is stopping us from becoming our true self and remove these obstacles. And then we are free to feel God’s love. The one that is called sinner can be loved by God and in turn is called to love as God.
So Jesus in the parable is addressing how sometimes we see things as either good or bad, without looking at the whole picture. The story of the prodigal son, we hear how the son that left his home as he wished his father was dead as he asked for his inheritance and then wasted all his money and found himself in place where he was not treated human as he had learned from his dad the way to treat workers and they were to be treated with dignity. So this knowledge sends him back to his father to at least become a worker and be treated with dignity. He knew after the way he treated his father and family he didn’t deserve to be in the household. But the way his father embraces him and welcomes him back surprises him, his brother and maybe the reader and listener of this story. Remember it is a new creation, a new way of seeing things.
In our work in RGBM we work with people that are sometimes seen as criminals. At St. Christopher’s in El Paso, Tx we worked at becoming a second line shelter in the network of shelters for asylum seekers in the area. We finally were able to provide the space on Feb. 28 and again on March 21 and look forward to being able to do it more often the rest of the year and till it is a need. It is grace filled to provide welcome with dignity. But as we started the conversation with the congregation there were some that were not sure, one person said, my sister lives in the area. Like her sister was not safe, I should have said well great then your sister can help us. But I was shocked that they thought these people coming in legally were a danger to her and those around us. The people are dropped off by ICE and in 24 hrs most are gone to be with their sponsor and families. And undocumented people are not dangerous either.
I was recently reading about that man from Guatemala that was crushed by a trash can here in Marfa. He was definitely not dangerous, he was afraid and lost. Yesterday I walked in that area and prayed for him, his family. Please read his whole story that came out on the 23rd of this month in the Big Bend Sentinel, if you haven’t yet. We as a group went to visit a shelter in Juarez on Friday, where we heard a story of a 5 year old who had a gun pointed to her temple for a good while as this man threatened her mother, overnight they left to come to the USA where they have a sister who is willing to help her. But she got deported, the Guatemalan man also got deported and is also in Juarez. They are not criminals, our system is broken. God calls us to heal to welcome with dignity to be the light of compassion in the darkness they have experienced. Let us not be like the older brother and limit ourselves to judgment but to this new way of love and run to embrace and welcome.