There are those who said last Sunday's sermon was courageous.
I am not one of them.
Ever since Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 hit the fan our staff has been praying about what to say and when to say it. As I told the congregation yesterday, I don't mind preaching on controversial topics but I try not to do it in the heat of the moment as I am libel to be swayed just as much as anyone else. When I looked ahead at the lectionary texts for the summer and saw the Good Samaritan, and then the weekly Bible Study group said that the text made them think of immigration I took it as a clear sign from the Holy Spirit that it was time to get off the pot.
When I walked in on Sunday morning I felt like I had let that same Holy Spirit down. I didn't think the sermon said enough. In the Old Testament we are reminded that we were once strangers in a strange land ourselves and in the New Testament we are reminded that everyone is our neighbor and that by showing hospitality to strangers we are opening ourselves up to angels unawares (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, Hebrews 13:2).
Quite frankly, compared to other political/controversial issues, immigration reform is a Biblical no-brainer.
And that is where I left it.
I did not challenge the unspoken prejudices we all cannot help but carry.
I did not lift up the statistics that challenge the myth that an increase in crime is directly correlated to an increase in the people who are fleeing across our borders.
I did not name the greed and capitalism that has caused a gut reaction of fear as our own economy took a plunge and we look to find who we can blame. (Do we blame the immigrant or the large corporation who breaks the rules by hiring them for cheap labor?)
I did not challenge our government (current or previous administrations) on how immigration and border patrols and involvement with other countries' politics has been handled (or not) creating the dire situation our border states are in.
I wanted to say all of that and more, but as I was working on it the Holy Spirit clearly said 'cut it'. In order to move a congregation forward, they must trust their leader and that kind of trust takes time. So for now I will accept that although it felt like a little step, yesterday's sermon was still a good step. All I said was that the Bible claims that everyone is our neighbor and that we are to show them mercy, just as mercy has been shown to us.
I guess that is enough... for now.