We're officially the subject of the local paper op-ed. You can find this letter to the editor in the Radford New Journal. Our Steering Team is already composing a response. You'll find that in the RNJ soon enough.
There's plenty of reasons from financial, logistical, social, and even foreign policy perspectives that suggest resettling refugees is not only something that we're able to do well, but that it's right thing to do as a community. My purpose here, though, is expressly theological.
Matthew 25, some of Jesus's last words before his crucifixion, remind his listeners that what "you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me," and conversely, "when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me."
Every human is created in God's image (see Genesis 1-3), no one more so than any other. We're all deserving of care, assistance, and relief from tragedy (see Amos 5), no one more so than any other. We're all sisters and brothers of Jesus (see Matthew 25), and when we offer compassion to those on the lowest societal strata, we serve both them and Jesus through them.
This applies not only to Christians, but to people of all faiths and no particular faith. This applies not only to Americans, but to people who call other countries home and whose nations have been wrenched away by violent extremists. The call of Jesus sends us to embrace not just those who are like us, to relieve not just those who share our religion, to support not just those who are our allies, but to pray for those who persecute us, to overcome evil with good. What better response is there to a destabilized international community, caused in part by our own government's actions and in part by other governments who seek to seize and retain power, than to face that evil with the good of relief for the refugees created by such violence?
As I told a concerned citizen on the phone last week, it isn't my job as a pastor to just protect Christians. It's to offer good news in word and deed to all people. I'm not called to love Christians more than others, but instead to offer Christ's love to all, with whatever needs they bring, whether Muslims (or Christians) from Syria, Buddhists (or Hindus) from Burma, or Christians, agnostics, atheists, and all others who already call the New River Valley their home. So, we'll continue to work with partners like Beans and Rice and Bobcat Backpacks to provide relief to the hungry here. We'll continue to work with the Women's Resource Center to provide a place of safety and a new start for victims of relationship violence. We'll continue to welcome refugees. We're financially able to do this as a community. We've got connections in the housing and job market already lined up. We've got a community that believes its welcoming, and an opportunity for them to put that into practice.
Most importantly, as people of faith, we've got sisters and brothers of Jesus who've become the least of these due to circumstances beyond their control. Bound together in the God who created us all, we share spiritual DNA with these people, Before us, Jesus lays a harrowing reminder: what you do and don't do for the least of these is your very same response to me.
In the words of one of our forebears in faith, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
This post originally appeared on friartucker.org.
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