Where are your huddled masses now?

th-31

One love, one blood, one life, you got to do what you should
One life with each other: sisters, brothers
One life, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
One, one         – Bono

It is indeed a scary time in America and the world, by association. It used to be America set the tone for human rights as a symbol of unity amidst diversity. The mere idea of the United States says it all. We are made up of immigrants all seeking hope and opportunity. America has never been one ethnic group; it is a melting pot made up of multi-cultures and multi-colors. We are many and we are one. The Latin phrase on the Seal of the United States of America is “E pluribus unum” — “Out of many, one.” It’s not just one of the many things about this country; it’s the whole point.

As the “silent lips” of the Statue of Liberty still cry out:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  – Emma Lazarus

There is a strong movement in this country against what we have always stood for. It is a movement against unity. It is a movement that glorifies division and isolation. Instead of embracing the other, it fears the other. Instead of celebrating differences, it shuns differences. Instead of bridges, it builds walls. And it is growing and gaining steam. Send the homeless, tempest-tost away. Turn off the lamp. If you are different than us, we don’t want you. Go away. Who knows how far this will go, but it is not the America I know.

So where do we as Christians stand? Do we continue to hold up the banner of unity, or do we go along with the flow? For an answer, one doesn’t have to look much farther than Jesus, who said that if we look after the “least of these” we are looking after Him. He welcomed the Gentiles and the Samaritans. One of the first converts to Christianity was an Ethiopian. When the ones who were invited to the banquet turned down the invitation, He threw open the doors to anyone and everyone.

Bono sings we are one, but we are not the same, and that means that we get to carry each other. Carry each other — not drop each other.

“All for one, and one for all.”

You and I may not be able to stop this trend, but we sure have no business joining it. If you are a preacher, preach against it. If you have a voice, use it. Christianity and America have been pretty cozy as of late, but if America is truly going in this direction it is time to get out of bed.

If you want to be Christian and American, at least pick the right America. This new one isn’t anything like the original.

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12 Responses to Where are your huddled masses now?

  1. Very true. It’s complicated. And many of us are losing ‘friends’ over it (I use that word loosely because people who want to “unfriend” you because you disagree with them were never ‘friends’ to begin with). Somehow we’ve got to wave God’s banner instead of our own individual countries banners.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    I’ll take a stab @ providing an answering to this question: “So where do we as Christians stand?” although, I understand the very simple concept of never using the term ‘we’ becauz I only speak for myself – no one else! But my answer is the US Constitution, is where I’ll stand.

  3. Peter Leenheer says:

    The currency of the United States of America says “In God We Trust”. George Washington was a man of God. Perhaps Godly character in leaders is more needed than popularity, charisma and promises. America needs revival. Seeing the problem and doing something about it are often two different things. It takes a long time to get to the state America is in, and it will take time and effort to get out of it. Are you in this for the long haul? It took Wilbur Wilberforce 25 years of organized effort to get slavery abolished in Britain. When he started that looked like an impossible task. Until he realized he needed God to accomplish this. Nothing is impossible with God. I am constantly praying for America to trust in God! That is where I stand. I am Canadian. Canada has just had ten years of Godly leadership, the new government is working to undo some of the good that did. I am also praying for Canada. Nothing is impossible for God!!!

  4. CM says:

    As a person who holds dual citizenship, this issue is a constant concern for me. Immigration law has evolved tremendously over the years. No longer are immigrants required to be literate in their native tongue, as was the case in 1917. My mother, uncle, and grandparents immigrated here in 1947 from post war Europe – after surviving German occupation of their town and home. You could say they were refugees (although they would refuse to call themselves that). Nevertheless, they were required to have sponsors and prospective employment. My uncle became a U.S. citizen and was immediately selected for military draft. My mother and grandmother went to work in a factory. My grandfather became a cement laborer. They eventually pooled their money together (could not get a bank loan) and started a business that became very successful. One commonality I have noticed was that everyone who came to this country was expected to be a productive member – no handouts. There were no welfare programs or government assistance. Now if anyone suggests anything close to the way it used to be, they are decried as divisive, inhumane and cruel. But another commonality is that everyone depended on each other to a much greater extent. We relied on family, friends, and neighbors of the community. Even in the Chicago neighborhood where I grew up, we knew every family on our block – and this was even in the 1970’s. My childhood friends were Greek, Polish, Swedish, Irish, a true melting pot. We borrowed and swapped tools, food, you name it. We had police but did not require them much, as we were a self-policing neighborhood. Many of public edifices in Chicago were built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). I had a debate with my uncle some time ago where I proposed we need to bring back programs like the CCC, to which my uncle replied it would never work again – people would wither steal the equipment and supplies, or they simply would not show up to work. I was sad to admit he had a valid point. Which brings me to the point that with immigration today there is zero emphasis or expectation of service and giving back to the country. There is no draft, no CCC in lieu of a draft, no required time of volunteering, no expectation to learn the language, no expectation to assimilate. The word assimilation itself is seen as bad. For some reason we tend to look at the refugees or immigrants as “poor them”, and then our government proceeds to have no expectation that they become American when they arrive – they can be whatever they want to be, even if that means being anti-American. That by itself is a tolerance that is not tolerated in other countries (certainly not in my other country of citizenship). But is that the behavior Jesus would want from an immigrant who is offered much by today’s standards? Doesn’t Jesus have expectations for all of us, even from those who are poor and downtrodden? Why are we looking at the issue from one direction when there is an intertwined relationship involved here? So rather than focusing on policies of walls and borders, we need to to be focusing on policies of accountability and service in context of Love. With freedom comes responsibility. I apologize for the long response and to those who may find me rambling. . . .

    • Andrew P. says:

      CM, that’s an excellent bit of “rambling”! Thank you.

      • Wine Runner says:

        In reality CM is not rambling. It is the context that under girds the premise put forth. In my opinion, few Americans who are not immigrants or children of immigrants (me) really understand the distinct differences between immigrants pre-1970 and those from recent years. CM nails it perfectly. So many immigrants today do not want to be assimilated into America; they want to change America to their liking. That was not the mindset of my father when he came to America in 1915. He fully embraced America becoming a citizen seven years later.

        The other issue that so often gets confused is that Jesus directs overwhelmingly his words (commands) to people and not governments. Most Christians confuse this and think government should be the initiator of helping people. Government should get out of the way and let people help people. Almost all government programs are poorlt managed and waste so much money. Mark Seguin is correct: The U.S. government and its citizens need to stand upon the U.S. Constitution. The federal gov. has abused the 10th amendment.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Luv this post of very good ‘rambling’ too! And big yes & Amen to this: “With freedom comes responsibility.”

    • Colleen Thake says:

      Amen Cm 🙂

  5. Andrew P. says:

    I’m mostly with you on this, John, but I am puzzled about one thing. “Christianity and America have been pretty cozy as of late.” Uh — of LATE? Where have you been? Some years ago, yes, but of late? It seems to me (while we’re quoting pop songs), that “those days are gone forever, over a long time ago, oh yeah.”

  6. Mark Seguin says:

    Interesting and related news report:

    http://cravenews.com/authorities-find-369-isis-terrorists-arriving-among-migrants-guess/

    could this also help explain the current state of affairs here and why some are concerned.

  7. We’ve just returned from visiting some National Parks and Monuments in the western United States:
    The Grand Canyon in Arizona; Monument Valley of the Navajo Nation; Utah’s Arches National Park; the Craters of the Moon in Idaho; plus other wilderness areas and tourist destinations of Oregon and Washington state.
    While at these places we observed people from practically every corner of the planet:
    There were men wearing turbans; women covered by burkas; well-dressed Asians and Europeans; casually-clothed Canadians, Mexicans, and US’ers; even an Amish family sporting their traditional garb!
    We heard various languages and dialects that reflected the many different countries these souls most likely call home:
    The Far East, Near East, Middle East, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.
    All skin-tones and (I dare say) every sort of belief system were represented by these “masses” of visitors as well.

    While it may not be thought of as extraordinary it could be considered somewhat remarkable (given the current state of American politics and global tensions) that all of us with our varied backgrounds could sit or stand side-by-side on buses, at cafeterias, in campgrounds, hotel lobbies, souvenir stands, etc., chatting together with complete civility – and even enjoying one another’s company without fear of any sort of hostility, aggression, or shaming.
    We were all at these Parks and Monuments for, essentially, a common purpose:
    To see for ourselves – and marvel at – the handiwork of God (whether some believed in Him or not, or whether some worshipped a deity not associated with the Bible). .
    Gathered together we enjoyed a common bond, a mutual respect, and even a camaraderie of sorts. Ideologies took a back seat to seeing the “natural” wonders of God firsthand.

    Perhaps, this is where some of the greater miracles have occurred and do occur every day:
    Not so much in His creation of the physical landscape but in the unity (or closeness) of His created beings as they appreciate and share the landscape and that moment together… we all stand in awe, hearts united, with one another, here and now.
    Even though the “natural” beauty from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans is indeed breathtaking, I believe the fondest and most favorable impression our guests take home with them are their memories about the everyday Americans they encounter, whether at a tourist destination or elsewhere.
    And, perhaps, that is why so many foreign visitors come to the United States to see for themselves a land brimming with beauty, rich in diversity, and a friendly welcoming people -regardless of negative news and propaganda spewed by politicos and media (both foreign and domestic).

    John, you stated that it’s “a scary time…” but I reject that notion.
    Regardless of all the fear-mongering being perpetuated during this (and every) election cycle, the simple truth is that “Governments fade, but God endures”.
    It’s an exciting time to be alive both participating with and witnessing how God will usher in the future of our history.

    While it certainly is not (nor ever will be) Heaven I still believe the United States of America offers a hopeful vision – a God-blessed landscape, if you will – for oppressed and dehumanized peoples everywhere (even within our own borders) that is found nowhere else in this world.

    I also confidently agree with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein (President of the international Fellowship of Christians and Jews) who recently wrote:
    “As Americans gear up for the 2016 elections, let us all give thanks to God for the blessing of living under democratic political systems. There are many [people] today… living under oppressive rule who do not enjoy that blessing.
    And, at the same time, never forget that political systems rise and fall like all works of man, and that true freedom is found in acting in faith and courage, trusting in God, and acknowledging His sovereignty and dominion over our lives.”

    “‘The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’” — Leviticus 19:34

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