Comfort, or Cold Comfort?

“Hear what comfortable words our Savior Christ speaks to all who truly turn to him.” (from The Book of Common Prayer). Hear Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ... Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 11:28, Luke 6:20)

Contrast words now spoken to those the USA government wants to turn away. In a radio interview, Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was asked if he agreed that the words of Emma Lazarus at the base of the Statue of Liberty are a part of the American ethos. In reply, Cuccinelli tweaked Lazarus’ words:
"Give me your tired and your poor … who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge."

Such a jarring contrast with Jesus’ words that offer comfort and hope. Emma Lazarus came from a large Sephardic Jewish family of immigrants, and wrote her sonnet
The New Colossus in 1883 to draw a contrast between Lady Liberty and the ancient Colossus at Rhodes. "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame … a mighty woman … her name Mother of Exiles."

I often tell international students, our legal guests on American campuses, that I serve as an ambassador of God’s Kingdom, not American culture. As St. Augustine observed in his classic work
The City of God, there is an Earthly City and the City of God. There are two kingdoms. God’s Kingdom overrules all lesser kingdoms, empires, and nations in this passing world.

I grieve for my terrestrial nation. She is no longer
Mother of Exiles. My family’s ancestors might not be welcomed today. We were 18th century immigrants from France, 19th-20th century poor immigrants from Italy, and a 4th great-grandmother who was a political exile at 5 years old, expelled from French Acadia. The Chinese name for my nation is: “měi guó,” the “beautiful country.” And America has been a beautiful hope for generations to those who seek a better life on earth.

Nations and governments set immigration criteria and policy. They regulate citizenship and borders. Governments decide at what level they will offer refuge to the world's poor, tired, and oppressed. But the USA’s acting Director of Immigration has now confirmed the larger point.

Do you want a glimpse of God’s kingdom? Then seek out a welcoming community of Jesus’ followers called by God to belong and serve in local embassies of God's kingdom. Jesus' disciples live as exiles and ambassadors even in their own countries.

But do not look to this current American government. Unless you expect cold comfort.
LORD, have mercy. Make America GOOD again. So that we may become a beautiful beacon again.