“We don’t see these people as problems. They are our family.” Quoted from David Medrano Diaz, a Methodist pastor in Matamoros who builds relationships with the residents of this tent city. This quote stopped me in my tracks.
As I gathered myself, I reflected, how are we intentionally keeping the most vulnerable within our lives and close to heart? Keeping vulnerable people close can be problematic; there can too often be a patriarchal structural violence held over them. We see this exercised through governments flexing different policies, acts and laws, causing vulnerable people and communities to live with fear, dependency and under oppression.
Keeping the vulnerable within our hearts, in a healthy relationship, I’d like to suggest, takes selflessness, humility, and a willingness to yield.
Yielding takes a willingness to confess and redirect the paths we walk. When we practice the discipline of confessing: our implicit and explicit biases, our fear of the other, and our oppressive ways, we will grow closer to the heart of God. We need to stay aware of who’s in our midst and be prepared to incarnationally show up.
God’s greatest gift of humility is known through the life of Christ. Jesus shows up vulnerable as a baby from beginning to end, all the way to the sacrificial death and resurrection.
And so, we are invited to engage in work that deconstructs thoughts, actions, and narratives that unjustly categorize God’s beloved as “problems.”
What needs to happen is equal representation so change is seen within the structural violence of poverty and racism. What needs to happen is equal access to services, transportation and education. What needs to happen for the vulnerable is that, we no longer stay silent because when we do we are complicit to the injustices that must change. So, maybe we should ask, who are the vulnerable that we will no longer leave in the shadows so that they can lead us beyond our unjust ways?
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
May we not tire of declaring that if we really want
an effective end to violence,
we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence:
exclusion of citizens, and repressions.
May we receive a portion of your Spirit,
that we might be seeds for a new age. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become educated this week:
Look for space where you can listen to impacted community members.
To cultivate growth this week:
Look for one way to collaborate with local immigrant organizations in your community this week.
To advocate this week:
Start a conversation with a neighboring congregation to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
Nathan Arledge is an elder in the North Carolina Conference currently serving at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC.