THE BIBLICAL STORY IS A MIGRATION STORY
Scripture is inspired for all people in all places in all times calling us to a higher response than this world even knows. Here Rev. Julia Matallana-Freedman, who in 2018 received her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity and was ordained Elder in the Free Methodist Church in Southern California, provides a thoughtful guidance to which each of us are called by God to respond as the church – the called-out-ones.
So much about our faith as North American Christians is discursive. Ultimately the words we use and the interpretive choices we make matter because our actions unfurl alongside our discursive choices. The Christian ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas, frames it this way:
“The most creative social strategy we have to offer is the church. Here we show the world a manner of life the world can never achieve through social coercion or governmental action. We Serve the world by showing it something that it is not, namely, a place where God is forming a family out of strangers.” (Resident Aliens, 39).
We know there are many FM leaders across the nation already actively involved in refugee ministries and initiatives. This post embodies our striving for the centering of this ongoing work and to lift up the stories of FM Churches on the borderlands and in the trenches of this ongoing moral corruption. This reflection is searching for the increase of unlikely voices coupled with divine creativity to do God’s work faithfully.
If we, the FMC, are going to take Stanley Hauerwas’ statement seriously then we must think much more creatively than democratic vs. republican, white vs. brown, citizen vs. migrant, etc….The challenge remains holding a number of truths simultaneously even when they appear contradictory. And maybe it is only me, but trying to balance all the contradictory truths can leave me utterly exhausted.
I came upon a 2010 article written by an author denoted as “West,” they say,
“My friend Joan Maruskin wrote an article calling the Bible the “Ultimate Immigration Handbook.” Joan writes that, “The Biblical story is a migration story. The Bible is the story of the uprooted People of God seeking safety, sanctuary and refuge and the living God giving directions for welcoming the stranger. From Adam and Eve, to Noah, Abraham, Moses to Jesus, Joseph and Mary, all found themselves on the move, migrating, looking for a better life.” – (https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/the-biblical-story-as-a-migration-story/ accessed: June 27)
This thought washed over me like I was clean of my sins once more, loosed of my chains, and enveloped by the God of love’s Holy Word. Because this interpretation means that the scriptures actually have something constructive to say to us regarding the detaining and deporting of asylum seekers, and I might add, it has no relationship to he-who-must-not-be-named’s (HP shout out) interpretation of Romans 13. In fact, the people of God are (and were) the migrants.
This interpretation reminded me that we all, regardless of identity, understand the desire for a better life. (In clarifying my discursive choice here, I must add that identity matters. Our identities don’t just magically disappear by believing in God, because social location, and constructions of race, and economic status, etc. deeply matter! Instead, it is to say that beneath these identities there are forms of longing that are recognizable across all identities). We all want the best for our kids, and the best for our churches, and the best for our denomination, and the best for our relationship with God, etc….but these longings must never be confused with avoiding a definitive moral stance.