Advent 10, 2016
Since mid November I have been blessed to be part of our church's ESL ministry. I work with advanced students trying to get their GEDs, although these folks are far beyond that level in intelligence and background. What is holding them back is language. I have 3-4 Iraqi students (2 beautiful women in hijabs come), four Sudanese young men, and a couple of Hispanics.
Last night we used a reading on Christmas to talk about the holiday and gave them a small goodie bag. I had them write on "What surprised them when they came to the U.S." since almost all of theme have been here about a year or less. Their answers were funny, sad, intriguing: everyone has a car; taxes are taken from you first (in paychecks and extra on items you buy); everyone is so rushed and busy (hummmmm); people are kind and offer English classes for free. The Muslim woman said people looked at her negatively because of her conservative dress, which is part of her religion in the Q'ran.
In ancient Israel, the Jews were commanded to treat the immigrant or alien as a neighbor "and love them as yourself" (Leviticus 19:34). I think our church is trying to do that; in this international climate it is hard (I am not blaming Trump here; I think we were unwelcoming before Trump and he is being used as a scapegoat because of his "rhetoric." Americans are really good at blaming their leaders for their own sins.)
*I put rhetoric in quotes because how he speaks does not qualify as rhetoric, the subject I have a master's degree in from Ohio University. It is a string of odd pronouncements and superlatives and invectives.
Christmas of all times should remind us of the Leviticus 19:34 instruction, since Mary and Joseph were immigrants in Egypt and we are all sojourners in this world.