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For many immigrants to the US, the physical trip to the United States is not the end of the hardships and dangers of their immigration journey. Even after crossing the border into the US, immigrants tell stories of cruel Border Patrol agents, violent private citizens, inhumane detention centers, and inhospitable communities. There is so much pain, violence, and fear within the US borders.
These stories inevitably bring to mind Genesis 18:1-15, the passage about how Abraham and Sarah provided abundant, impractical, overwhelming hospitality to three strangers. Abraham gives not only a little food and water, but the best of all that he has. Travelers in the desert would have risked dehydration and death without hospitality along the way.
Later in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Exodus shows us how the Israelite people experienced exactly what it means to wander in a foreign land, and thus, fully understood the importance of offering hospitality to travelers and immigrants. In many ways, hospitality to those who we may be tempted to consider “other” is at the core of the Scriptures, and is a key aspect of our Christian faith and practice.
But we American Christians have not always lived up to this biblical imperative. The harsh realities immigrants face once crossing into the United States bear witness to this failure of hospitality. Those of us who live in the United States and profess Christian faith must ask ourselves how we can better offer holy hospitality to those who seek welcome. When we offer refuge to the immigrant among us, we welcome God into our midst.
~Grace Cain, MDiv student
This blog is part of a 16-piece series for MIGRATION & HOLY WEEK composed by the students and instructors CTS Contextual Immersions J-Term 2022 Courses on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Because of COVID, both the planned travel seminar and the virtual seminar joined for a fully online zoom-based two-week seminar. Instructors compiled, edited the offerings into this series. We hope that this series that integrates our studies and themes of Lent will pose questions for all of us to contemplate and respond to in our life of faith.