November 10, 2013: God’s Love Knows No Borders

Posted on : Nov 7th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Last Sunday was a wonderful celebration of our 100th Anniversary!  Our Church Council has been planning the events of the last months for over a year.  We certainly want to thank Zadoc Angell, Elizabeth Kesner, George Lynch, Hortensia Ruiz, Ron Thomas and Mike Wilson!  Additionally, we want to thank everyone who helped make our entire 100th Anniversary celebration such a great success including both all of our 100th Anniversary worship celebrations in the past six months and last Sunday’s fabulous celebration! This was truly a work of love by many, many members and friends of West Hollywood Church!

This Sunday we focus our attention on a current need and opportunity to be involved in sharing God’s love and bringing about God’s justice for and with those who live in our country without documentation.  It is estimated that today we have over 11 million people living in the United States without legal documentation.  Some people refer to these persons as “illegal aliens,” but Elie Wiesel, one of the great Jewish theologians of our time who himself lived through the Holocaust, has clearly corrected such “labeling.”  Elie Wiesel says, “There is no such thing as an illegal human being.  If you commit a crime, you do not become an illegal human being.”

Currently, one of the strongest voices calling for “Immigration Reform” is the Christian Church.  And for once, both progressive and conservative Christians are unified in our thoughts and call for action.  That is because immigration reform is ultimately a moral and spiritual issue.  It is a complex issue as well.  We can’t begin to address the need for immigration reform until we first understand how this need came about. To begin with, we are talking about 11 million people. That is a massive number of people who are here without documentation.  11 million people didn’t just “sneak across the border, unnoticed.”  Our immigration policies “allowed” most of them to come here, because we wanted and needed “cheap, undocumented labor.”  Many of these people mow our lawns, clean our homes, build our houses and work in low-wage jobs that Americans refuse to do such as harvesting our crops (so called “migrant workers”), or working in slaughterhouses and the meat packing industry.  One of the cries of “Immigration Reformers” is that those who have worked here must pay “back taxes.”  What most people don’t understand is that most of those persons did pay taxes – their taxes were withheld by their employers.  The only persons who didn’t pay taxes were those who were hired by Americans (that’s us!) who didn’t want to pay employer taxes, so they paid these workers “under the table.” Those who are guilty of not paying taxes are first and foremost the Americans who hired undocumented workers and did not pay employer taxes.

But an even larger issue, and one that we have heard so much about in recent years, is the separation of families.  Of the 11 million people here in the US without documentation, millions of them have given birth to children who are by birth, US citizens.  Families are being split apart as mothers and fathers face deportation, as well as some of their children who were born in other countries, but brought to the U.S. as infants.  Most of these kids had no idea they were here without legal documentation until they were ready to apply for college or a driver’s license.  Thus, the new “Dreamers” movement, a movement primarily of young adults who dream of becoming US citizens, is raising this issue of the separation of families in a strong and visible way.

This Sunday, we will focus on the spiritual and human needs that need to be taken into consideration as we work together in our country to find a just and reasonable way to resolve this huge dilemma.  Rev. Dr. Carlos J. Correa Bernier, Associate Conference Minister for Border and Latino Ministries, Southern California Nevada Conference, will be with us as well as Maria Hinojosa, Anchor and Producer of NPR’s Latino USA. Maria was a Keynote Speaker on “The Need for Immigration Reform in the United States” at this year’s General Synod of the UCC which was held in Long Beach, CA.  Through video, she tells one of the most hilarious, yet personally touching stories, about how this issue becomes personal, understandable and “fixable.”



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Exodus 22: 21-24

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

Matthew 2: 13-18

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

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