In these turbulent times in our national life, as the Leadership Council of Christ Church, we invite you to join us in redoubling our efforts to live and practice the gospel of redemptive love as taught and modeled by Jesus Christ.
Our current cycle of Gospel lessons recounts Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. Beginning with the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches that humility, integrity, and resilience in the face of injustice are essential Christian values. Later, near the end of his life (Matt.25:31ff), Jesus explicitly states that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, offer water to the thirsty, visit the imprisoned, and give aid to the sick are the ones who truly understand his message.
In this spirit, we oppose the recent Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees. We find this order antithetical to the spirit of Jesus’ life and message. We remember that Mary and Joseph were themselves refugees who fled to Egypt for safety after the birth of their son. We remember that, as this same son grew into adulthood, he never refused to help anyone on the basis of their national origin or religion.
At Christ Church, our congregation is populated by immigrants from more than 50 different nationalities and ethnicities, some who came to us from different faith traditions. In Washington Heights, a number of our members and friends are increasingly concerned about their families’ status in America. We stand with them and in solidarity with the recent statement by the President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church: “Orders, legislation or administrative actions that would have the U.S. State Department disqualify refugees from protection and resettlement based on their nationality or religion are a denial of the very principles this nation was built upon, contradict the legacy of leadership our country has offered the world, and dishonor our shared humanity.” (Read the whole statement here.)
In the months ahead, regardless of our various partisan leanings, we will remain focused on advancing the love of God and neighbor. We know that there have always been consequences for following the path of Jesus and that we may be called on to speak and to act as we seek, day by day, to love as he did. This includes learning to love those with whom we disagree, yet not dishonoring Jesus’ rigorous ethic of welcoming all persons and peoples into God’s gracious embrace.
We invite you to return to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. As you read these words of challenge and comfort, we ask that you remember our shared mission as Christ Church: to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves.
Derek P. Miller