It's a hot topic these days – why help people from other countries, when we don't even know who they are? What makes them deserve our help anyway? In her book Immigration and the Bible – a guide for Radical Welcome, UM minister Joan Maruskin wrote:
"The Bible is the ultimate immigration handbook. It was written by, for, and about migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. It gives directions for responding to sisters and brothers from around the world who come to a land seeking safety, sanctuary, and sustenance."
The Bible tells us how Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fled their homeland for a foreign land, seeking safety. It tells of the immigration of Abraham, and of the children of Israel as they sought to the gift of food from Egypt. Scriptures tell us over and over that hospitality to strangers is a mark of our faith. And a number of scholars make the case that the real sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality to strangers, as the townspeople sought to harm the guests whom Lot was sheltering.
So, one answer to the question of why help refugees, who are not like us, who are unknown to us, is this: we do it because of who we are, not because of who they are. We are people of a faith that tells us to welcome. We are people who have been shown grace, and now offer grace to others. We are people whose religion teaches compassion.
In the coming weeks you will hear more about our response to refugees. You have been gracious and generous. You have done that because of who you are. Thank you.