On Controlling Our Borders

Because I cannot leave well enough alone and lack the sense to let sleeping dogs lie,
I post this prayer from a modern day prophet.

On Controlling Our Borders
by Walter Brueggemann

Jesus—Crucified and risen—draws us into his presence again,
the one who had nowhere to lay his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.

We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being
and we fret about “illegal immigrants.”
We fret because they are not like us
and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them
and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax
dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines,
because we imagine that our life is under threat.

And yet, as we know very well,
we, all of us—early or late—are immigrants
from elsewhere;
we are glad for cheap labor
and seasonal workers
who do tomatoes and apples and oranges
to our savoring delight.

And beyond that, even while we are beset by fears
and aware of pragmatic costs,
we know very well that you are the God
who welcomes strangers,
who loves aliens and protects sojourners.

As always we feel the tension and the slippage
between the deep truth of our faith
and the easier settlements of our society.

We do not ask for an easy way out,
but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in presence of those unlike us;
give us generosity amid demands of those in need,
help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.

You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us
into agents of your will,
that our habits and inclinations may more closely
follow you majestic lead, that our lives may
joyously conform to your vision of a new world.

We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus.

Can you pray this prayer?
I certainly can; it’s a good prayer.
But there are some stinging parts.

help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.


And so…

Rage if you must, but first think about it.
Better yet, first pray about it.
I mean, talk to Jesus about it.
Discover the mind of Christ about it.
And ask yourself this question about it—
Can I imagine Jesus saying what I think about it?


(The prayer is from Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann
and the painting is Green Card by Wang Nanfei.)