May 20 Minister Moment

This Sunday is Christian Pentecost, the 50th day after Passover, and, in the book of Acts, the day the apostles were filled with the holy spirit and able to speak to every nation, in fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy. Interestingly, they tend to leave out this bit: Joel 3:10 “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” Joel was an advocate for pushing enemies into the seas and the desert.  A voice from a tribal time.

Christian Pentecost comes from Jewish Pentecost, literally “50th” in Greek.  In Exodus that was the day Moses received the Law from God (following the flight from Egypt) as well as the time of celebrating the spring harvest. One tradition of Shavuot, the Hebrew name for the holiday, is to read the Book of Ruth. We will turn our attention to Ruth this Sunday. Ruth is the story of an immigrant woman who survived because the people of Bethlehem were commanded by God to be generous.

Last week I told you of my trip through the desert to leave water for those migrating across the border.  That was my first day of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee/UUA journey for religious professionals, guided by the able folks at borderlinks.org

This week I want to talk a bit about day two.  We spent the day learning the legalities of the immigration system.  Perhaps you know someone who got their “green card” and is now a citizen, or someone who has been here “on an H1B visa” or perhaps someone living without documentation.  

Our morning involved a simulation of the visa and entry maze.  Who gets in more easily (hint: white) and who probably can’t get in at all?  For someone wanting to join a sibling in the USA there is a wait, for some countries that wait can be up to forty years.  That’s a biblical number too… forty years before entering the promised land.

The afternoon was spent watching deportation hearings in US Federal Court.  A very nice judge and very nice defense attorneys held hearings for seventy persons who illegally crossed the border in Arizona.  Each had been charged with two crimes.. one a felony and one a misdemeanor. They had all signed documents pleading guilty to the second, and so the first was dropped.  But the plea meant that they were now criminals and could be deported immediately. If they returned (as about twenty of them had) they got a second charge, and would be given between thirty and one hundred twenty days in a privately run prison in central Arizona.  Some came here seeking asylum, and they mentioned this with their guilty pleas, but asylum is only considered after conviction.

Following the ninety minutes it took to convict and expel the seventy, the judge came down to chat with our class.  A sixty-nine year old grandfather, he said the only solution to this was to change the system… create a way to come into the USA at least temporarily, and create a path to citizenship.  I am not an open borders advocate, still I agree, the system has to change. I will work for candidates who want to enact a rational, humane immigration system. It won’t be ideal, but change can happen.  The current system is institutionalized cruelty.

What a perfect segue!  Federal Elections are coming up!  Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, for the Tuesday, June 12, 2018 Primary Elections is Monday, May 21, 2018.  I voted absentee in the municipal elections, but will be here for June 12.. mark your calendars! VOTE

And I didn’t have a chance to remind you to SIGN UP to help “Clean the Bay” on June 2nd.  Our congregation has taken responsibility for some shore line near Military Highway.  We will use canoes to do this work. Sign up in Social Hall or see Paul Greggs.

Nor did I talk about the upcoming General Assembly, and proposed Study/Action issues:
https://www.uua.org/action/process/csais So you have to read about them yourself!

See you soon,

Rev. Charlie