Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just One Day ... For Love

How do you define love?
a) a gushy feeling that leads to temporary insanity.
b) a verb
c) justice
d) all of the above
e) b and c

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that is not love."

I received the email on a Thursday. I was asked to come out and support a rally for immigration reform taking place three days later in East Harlem. When I arrived, I was surprised to find the rally was taking place in a store-front church (or so I thought) that I had passed on a bus dozens of times. When I stepped into the sanctuary I was amazed to find the 1000 seat sanctuary packed to overflowing with evangelical and pentecostal Latinos holding signs and chanting in spanish, "Si, se puede! Se, se puede!"

I entered and found a place to stand off to the right. I watched my friend Rev. Gabriel Salguero, pastor of Lambs Church of the Nazarene, let loose with passion and fury as he talked about the raids that are breaking up families across New York City every day. Soul after soul stepped forward and offered testimony of how someone in their family--a son, a father, a husband, a mother--was taken from them and sent away without warning, probably for ever. Hard working families are losing breadwinners and nurturing anchors. Their emotional, mental, and spiritual anguish is compounded by a slippery slope into the quagmire of poverty. The crowd wept, nodding heads, chanting between testimonies, vowing action. I was moved to the core.

Two days later I received a phone call asking if New York Faith & Justice would like to join an interfaith network of organizations pressing for immigration reform in 2009. I said yes. I am now on the steering committee of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform. Why? For the sake of love -- for the sake of justice.

Each of us can do our individual part to heed Jesus' words in Matthew 25, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." We can be nice to immigrants (documented or undocumented) within our city, but until we address the policies tearing families apart, our niceness is complicity.

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