Jesus: the illegal alien

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>Most CC readers are aware that I pastor at Reconciliation United Methodist Church. I am privileged to work with Rev. Dr. Edgardo Colón-Emeric, our Pastor of Spanish Language and Outreach Ministries who has been a vital part of our congregation for years. As of last year, he is now also the Assistant Research Professor of Theology and Hispanic Studies at Duke Divinity School.

This past Sunday he preached on the texts for the Third Sunday of Easter. Since Sunday, there has been a substantial amount of “buzz” about his sermon and the implications for Christian living.

I found myself wondering again about the “context” of sermons. Readers of this blog should know that this sermon was delivered in both Spanish and English to a very diverse congregation that includes African Americans, Anglos, Latinos (both documented and undocumented) and others (with approximately 10 nationalities in all). Any number of lines or excerpts of this sermon could be pulled out for “sound-bites” that might well anger others. Since there is no video, I doubt any of it will show up on YouTube, which is probably a good thing!

I have enjoyed the reflection, questions, and further biblical study that has been the fruit of subsequent discussion. Instead of posting the full text directly into the blog, I have made a link here for those who wish to read the translated version.


  1. >This was a very interesting and thought-provoking sermon. I was glad to be there to hear it. Look forward to reading and studying it further again now. Thanks to both pastors for posting and making it available!

  2. >Interesting sermon. I would love to hear more from those who heard it firsthand. While it does seem challenging, and stikingly prophetic, it also seems to use the text to make a point rather than look at the point the text is making. The encounter on the Emmaus road means Jesus is the “good coyote”? That seems to be a stretch. Because Jesus left heaven and was born here without a birth certificate, he now is the first “undocumented alien”? Again, it seems as though he is making the text say something that fits into his thoughts, even if it does not.The challenge to consider how we as Christians should respond to those whom we come across is valid…to remember that we are aliens in a foreign land. I’m just not sure that the Emmaus encounter is the vehicle to take us down that road.I also take issue with the comment about the “system that abuses you”. That seems overly harsh considering it is a system that they come to voluntarily and stay in it illegally. Most of the abuses, do they not, come because people can take advantage of their desire to stay undocumented, and because they were willing to circumvent the system in the first place. I must say though that taking advantage of undocumented aliens is wrong!I do believe, by the way, that we need immigration reform- that we need to allow the opportunities of this country to be more open to all. Generations ago, my family immigrated here as well. I believe there needs to be some way to address the living experiences of those who are within our borders, as a mass deportation of tens of millions of people is simply not realistic, nor does it serve anyone’s best interest. I also believe the church is called to minister to and with people regardless of their documented status. I do not believe it is a simple issue, with simple solutions. In the end, I bristle at making political points by stretching Scripture in this way. There are other ways he could have argued this point well from Scripture, it just seems he was manipulating the text in this particular instance. That’s why I’d like to hear more from those who actually heard it, to understand the way it was received. It may well be that in simply reading the text I am missing an important part of the context for my understanding.

  3. >PR,It was well received, but our congregation wrestles with this issue among our membership – so it is not hypothetical political debate that is “out there” it is “in here” – though there is a diversity of opinion on how to live faithfully around this issue. Couple of things I would say are solidly biblical and theological about this sermon:1) baptismal identity trumps national identity hands down – every time. Anything less makes nation an idol.2) Jesus was not only accursed under the law, he was publicly chastised time and again for associating with the wrong kind of folk.3) Jesus as “buen coyote” has something to commend it – I think. Jesus life, death, and resurrection is about delivering people from getting what they deserve (wages of sin) to getting precisely what they do not deserve (grace).

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