|Bishop Aitken's Reflections
A Pastoral Letter
Dear Pastors, Deacons, and members of congregations in this Synod,
At a breakfast table in the home of one of our congregation's family members, a mother texted me this week to tell me about how her family discussed the recent orders to close down immigration and refugee resettlement in this country. They read Scripture and discussed what it means to follow Jesus. They used this Bible passage for their conversation around the table: "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as you native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19: 33-34
I speak to you as your Bishop in strong, encouraging, and gospel terms. Jesus Christ, crucified and raised for the life of the whole world, has claimed you. Be bold in following him. Fear, racism, degradation of others, half-truths and hate are disseminated today with increasing fervor. The number of suffering refugees seeking help today is greater than ever before. What's needed is the good news of God's love, as shown to us in Jesus: Matthew 25:35-40 "...For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."37Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?"40And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,you did it to me." Jesus knew, didn't he, the ancient words from Zechariah, "Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do no devise evil in your hearts against one another." (Zechariah 7:10)
In times like we are experiencing today Christians do what we are always called to do;
+ Hear the gospel and proclaim it in word and deed
+ Love our neighbor (as defined by our Lord, this means anyone who needs our help)
+ Welcome the stranger, give them food and drink, clothing and shelter
+ Be courageous, stand up against oppression and injustice, Christ lives in you!
+ Take care of the widow and orphan, stranger and alien
+ Bear witness to the incredible depth of God's love for all people - no exceptions!