The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream...Get up, take the child and his mother and go to Egypt....So he got up took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt where they stayed until the death of Herod...and so it was fulfilled who the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Out of Egypt I called my Son." (Matthew 2)
As I write to you, I'm still in Indiana, but my bags are packed, my Spirit is filled and I'm grateful for the week ahead. I hope (wifi permitting) to update you on my journey over the next several days. As many of you are aware, I have been participating in the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program, a Lilly Funded grant for pastors. The program gathers together 16 pastors with 5-10 years of ministry experience from various denominations throughout Indiana to learn about issues that impact the communities in which we serve. We've met at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN every other month and speak with leaders throughout the state, including experts in education, economics, grass roots community development, and government to learn how churches can build stronger communities and be intentional about the ways we share the Gospel with those around us.
Tonight, however, I prepare to travel not to Crawfordsville, but to Tijuana, Mexico as we gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the hot button topic of immigration. While we too often look at immigration in sound bites, and as an issue marred in passion and controversy, this week my colleagues and I will be immersed in an issue that isn't simply a talking point for politicians--it has impacted the lives of those we will meet. It's not an "issue." It's people's lives, people's safety, people's families and livelihood. We'll hear from faithful civil servants who work to protect US citizens and provide safety in the southern US. We'll speak with young adults who came to this country as children but were deported after spending over a decade in the US. I will be privileged to visit an orphanage and speak with local workers to understand the joys and struggles of life in this region. Upon our return, we will discuss immigration's impact on Indiana and consider how the church can speak faithfully and deeply to one of the most complex issues of our time.
I expect to be conflicted, uncomfortable, challenged. I expect to see Emmanuel, God with us, in the most broken of places. I expect to see joy, to see the Spirit of the Living God alive in those whom I am privileged to meet. But above all, I go forth on this journey, praying for open eyes and an open heart, seeing all those whom I meet, not as citizens of one nation or another, but as Children of God. Beautifully and wonderfully made. For this is who we are and whose we are.