We are grateful for the opportunity
To be together
To Stand together
To make our voices heard.
On this morning, the words of the book of Leviticus
Reverberate in our minds and hearts
And they should resonate in the halls of Congress
As senators and representatives deliberate on
Immigration reform and a path to citizenship
for 11 million aspiring Americans who want to officially
Be acknowledged as members of our national community.
Those words from Leviticus to which I refer declare
WHEN STRANGERS RESIDE WITH YOU IN YOUR LAND, YOU SHALL NOT WRONG THEM. THE STRANGERS WHO RESIDE WITH YOU SHALL BE TO YOU AS YOUR CITIZENS; YOU SHALL LOVE EACH ONE AS YOURSELF, FOR YOU WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
If we love and respect aspiring citizens,
We will provide them with a timely path to citizenship.
We will not separate them from their loved ones by arbitrary, impersonal and heartless deportations.
We will welcome them with open arms as our ancestors were welcomed when immigration was encouraged to strengthen our community.
For too many people, love and respect have turned to fear – fear of the unknown, fear of the stranger, and, on the part of some Congressional representatives, including our own Representative Peace, fear that TOO many people will want to enter our country and overpopulate our land.
In the words of one Jewish popular songwriter, Neal Sedaka,
who reflected in one song on his own family’s immigration to this country, THERE WAS A TIME WHEN STRANGERS WERE WELCOME HERE.
It is time to open our arms – our hearts – with reasonable standards - with shorter timetables – to let those people – those children of God – who want to be members of our communities JOIN US in our land of freedom as full citizens.
We read in Leviticus that welcoming the stranger – not oppressing the stranger – is a holy act.
Eternal One, lead us to holiness, to hope as we grow in love and respect for each other. And let us say amen.