The Entire Bible Is A Story Of Immigration

**pictured above: Eliana (left) and Inna (right) before church on Sunday in Kent, WA.

The other night, author and theologian Diana Butler Bass shared a Twitter thread on the subject of immigration and the Bible.

Pastor Brian Zahnd said, “Diana Butler Bass is a scholar and a better theologian than you or me. Read this 32 tweet thread and learn about the Bible and immigration.”

Here’s why this issue is important to me… because it’s not merely about an issue, it’s about individuals. It’s about people I know and love. It’s about my youth pastor’s wife who has DACA status, or I should say she was DACA status.

Eliana was just 1 year-old when she was brought to the USA. She is now 26 years old. Obviously, this country is all that she knows, and she has lived in the PNW her entire life. She is a beautiful woman of God who leads worship in our church, loves young people, and contributes to our community in a significant number of ways. I can’t imagine any scenario where she could possibly be viewed as a threat or a liability.

Here is Diana Butler Bass’ Twitter thread:

An evening thread, the story of the Bible, sojourners & immigrants, and God’s dream for the human family and creation.

A bedtime Bible story for those with broken dreams and who dream of a world of welcome:

The whole biblical tradition is about immigration. About the movement of people from one home to another.

Adam and Eve leave Eden and have to make home and family in a place they never intended.

The first story of the Bible is a story of exile and finding home.

And so it continues. Noah and his family flee the flood, survive, and build a new home.

God calls Abraham and Sarah out from their home. The founder of the three great faiths left Ur to find a home with God.

In this story, hospitality emerges as the most important virtue of faith. Welcoming the stranger is like welcoming God.

Judaism, Christianity & Islam teach that human beings are all wanderers, exiles & aliens. Thus, we welcome as we dream of being welcomed.

Jacob was an exile who returned to reconcile with his brother.

Joseph went unwillingly to Egypt, eventually leading God’s people to a rich & abundant land.

In Egypt, the Hebrew immigrants prospered. But they were so successful that they scared Pharaoh & he made them slaves.

Moses set them free and led them back to the land of Israel. Exiles back to their home.

The history following was one of constant movement, of settlement, exile, immigration, return.

The New Testament opens with two stories of movement.

Mary and Joseph must leave their town and register in a government census. Thus, Jesus was born away from home.

As a result of a prophecy, Herod seeks to kill him. Mary, Joseph & baby flee to Egypt to escape, not to return for years.

Jesus first instruction to his disciples is NOT “believe in me.” But it is “Follow me.”

Because faith is a life of being an immigrant, homeless to find a home in God.

And that’s exactly how the early church lived. They left Jerusalem and went to Judea and out into the whole Roman world.

The Bible is a document of immigrants, itinerants, exiles, strangers, and sojourners of all sorts.

And that’s why we are all DREAMERS. We dream of being settled in grace, in the love and full embrace of God.

We dream of a world where all exiles find home, where all strangers rest in peace, comfort, and joy.

We dream of the time where we all plant vine & fig tree, where milk and honey flow.

We dream of no boundaries that create war and division. We dream of swords beaten into plowshares.

We dream God’s dream.

If you are in the family of biblical faith, you are a dreamer.

Like Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, the patriarchs, matriarchs, prophets, followers, disciples, and lovers of God through time.

A vast human family of exiles, seeking and finding, offering hospitality, and caring for all on the journey.

Keep dreaming. Always. For it is a biblical dream, one that is the very center of the human drama of creation, redemption, and joy.

And hospitality, being both guests and hosts, must be practiced that this dream manifests in the world.

Without hospitality—welcoming the stranger—movement of peoples results in colonization, exclusion, and violence.

The Biblical dream turns to nightmare without that practice of welcome, of sharing table, of food & gifts.

So, dream. Live graciously as sojourner and live generously as citizen. Practice hospitality. Love one another.

*     *     *     *

Here is a video about an Assemblies of God pastor who is currently detained by ICE:

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I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

2 Comments to The Entire Bible Is A Story Of Immigration

  1. Love this Brian. Love our Eliana & all our family. Hospitality is a gift they have been showering on us. I’m so grateful.

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