An Immigrant Family at Risk
In my read-through-the Bible passage for Monday, February 17, 2014, there was one of those strange stories that appears in Genesis: the story of Abraham passing off his wife, Sarah, as his sister. It happens twice with Abraham and again with Isaac (cf. Genesis 20:1-18 and also Gen. 12:10-20, 26:1-11). Why would Abraham and then later, Isaac, do this?
I wanted to know more about the story and so in reading the commentary, I discovered that this is really an immigration story! Abraham (and later Isaac) is immigrating through another country. They are powerless in the face of the prevailing power so they tried to minimize the vulnerability of their situation by insuring that the protector of the family stays alive. The result is that the family is split up, leaving Sarah vulnerable.
It’s a story which demonstrates the hard choices and risks that immigrants then and still today must make: how to stay alive, how to keep their families together and safe.
On the day I read this, my two colleagues, Bishops Julius Trimble and Minerva Carcano, were demonstrating (and later arrested) along with some other friends, including a former classmate and housemate, Rev. David Farley, at the White House to bring attention to our broken immigration laws and to encourage President Obama to exercise his power to change the law in order to stop the deportations and the breakup of families.
You might say that President Obama is in the same position as Abimelech. Will he choose to be exceedingly hospitable and welcoming? Abimelech said to Abraham once he discovered the predicament, “Live wherever you wish.” He also provided Abraham with flocks and land so that Abraham could prosper in the land. Abimelech believed that his own house and rule would be plagued if he kept Abraham and Sarah apart as a family. In the end, Abimelech and his household were also blessed by his generosity to Abraham.
Since the beginning of time, immigration has been a major way of life as people go from one place to another to find a new home for various reasons. But often in that process, they find themselves to be vulnerable to the powers of the land. The law commanded the people of Israel to be hospitable and welcoming to the resident immigrants (see Exodus 22:21).
Will we as a people and our president as our leader be as hospitable as Abimelech toward the Abrahams and Sarahs in our country, insuring that families can stay together? Let us work to that end!
Thank you to all who risked themselves for the Abrahams and Sarahs in our country yesterday!
For the story see http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/united-methodist-d.c.-pray-in-for-immigration-reform.