Remember the Lady of the Harbor

nearriotMaybe the people of Murietta are just too many miles from the Lady of the Harbor.

Maybe in their comfortable Southern California town, far away from Liberty’s statue, it’s just too easy to forget that we’re all immigrants.; and that even the men (yes, men) who signed the declaration we celebrate this day were also all immigrants. (Or the sons of them).

I’m ashamed of Murietta, frankly. Yes, ashamed. We are better than this, America.

The young children who are flocking to our shores are doing to for just the same kinds of desperate reasons that our forebearers did. It takes a special kind of desperation for a mother and father to willingly allow their children to travel to a foreign land by themselves.

Unlike the reaction these children got in Murietta, I for one look forward to some of them coming to Dallas, and trust that the good folks of Northaven will be eager to work with Judge Jenkins and others to do our best to welcome to stranger.

Even if you find yourself angered by Murietta, we must remember that their short-term memory problems are present in every American generation. In previous eras, the children of immigrants screamed about the scourge of the Irish, the Italians, the Jews.

But our short memory loss goes back even farther. It goes all the way to Biblical times. When God said to the people of Israel:

“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.“ Leviticus 19:33

You can find dozens of passages in the Bible that say exactly the same thing. You can find an extended blog from me about the clear call of the Christian God to welcome the immigrant, the alien, and the foreigner here.

In fact, I’ve done a lot of blogging on immigration issues and Christian faith. You can read them here.

Note the part of that scripture that I’ve underline. God call us to embrace and welcome the immigrant “because you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

It’s well established that there was no distinguishing between “illegal” and “legal” in Biblical times. That is a distinction the Bible does not care about.

So, today, on this Fourth of July, I have two things running around my brain.

The two things are the picture from Murietta along with a song from my friends Brother Sun.” Brother Sun is a great trio of my friends, Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor, and Greg Greenway. The song is “Lady of the Harbor.” Give it a listen:

The final verse calls out to me today, on this July 4th:

“And will the dream, survive the strain?
Will huddled masses have the chance to learn it’s sweet refrain?
Or will we fall, into our fear, and turn our backs upon The Lady of the Harbor?”

Good questions.

She still calls to us. Our faith still calls to us.

Shine on, O You Lady of the Harbor.



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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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