There is something powerful in seeing. In the moment we begin to understand we say, “my eyes were opened,” as if we had been walking around blind before. When the Apostle Paul began to live in the light of Christ, something like scales fell off his eyes and he could see. Last year I took a trip with the Christian Community Development Association board to the Arizona/Mexico border. It felt like a collective eye opening moment. When it came to concern for undocumented immigrants, some of us had never looked before, some of us had our eyes down on other things, and some of us were seeing the situation in a new light. Whatever the case, after our trip together, we all see the issue of immigration differently than we did before.
On the bus ride back from the border we watched the movie, “Crossing Arizona”. There is a scene where a Minuteman rally takes place in a hotel ballroom. As the speaker rants about immigrants taking away jobs and ruining our society, the immigrant hotel workers are cleaning up and serving those in attendance. As the viewers watching the scene we were left asking, “How can they not see that the people serving them are the ones they are railing against?” How can they not see?
How can we not see? How can we not see that thousands of people have died in the desert trying to reach a better life for their families? How can we not see the complexity and hypocrisy of a system that on one hand invites people in and on the other provides no way to come? How can we not see the millions of undocumented neighbors who work and live among us every day contributing to our communities?
Often when we talk about Comprehensive Immigration Reform we say we need a way for people to “come out of the shadows”, a way for people to be seen, to have their presence acknowledged and accounted for. As we drove through the desert I thought of a migrant woman who went out to the desert feeling used by people that didn’t acknowledge her or her contributions. In Genesis, Hagar encountered God in the desert and she gave Him a name, “You are the God who see me,” she called Him. The God who sees. It seems like such an obvious recognition and yet profound when I think of how often we walk through life not seeing what is really going on.God sees. He sees the poverty and circumstances that prompt immigrants to come here. He sees their fear and courage. He knows the dreams and hopes that motivate them to press on. And He sees our confusion, concerns and questions as we seek to sort through the mess we are in as a nation. He sees our tension between law and compassion, protection and generosity. He is the God who sees.
Next Monday, November 7 at 6pm we are gathering in an attempt to see our immigrant neighbors, to voice our non-immigrant questions and pray together that the God who sees would see us in our good intentions and wrestling and lead us to unity and justice. And we trust that in coming together and seeing one another we, like Hagar, will not only be seen by God but can look and say, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
If you are in the Southern California area join us for the Immigration Prayer Vigil- Monday November 7 at Newsong Church in Irvine- 18842 Teller Ave. We are fasting during the day and breaking the fast with a simple meal at 6pm. The prayer vigil will start at 6:30pm. Hope to see you there!
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