Pastor’s Ponderings

From Kathy…

Sometimes I am asked what is my favorite piece of scripture. I find that very hard to answer because I have so many depending on the situation and what is going on around me and in me. This morning I find myself focused on the passage from the Book of Deuteronomy 10:18-19. “God enacts justice for orphans and widows, and God loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing.  That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt. (Common English Bible Translation).”

Last Saturday, 20 of us gathered in the Chapel for Part 1 of a workshop “Embracing the New Multicultural Reality”. We focused on how we sift through the tangled web of cultural and racial difference, difference in life-experience and personal story, and systemic racism to figure out how we can love one another well across cultures and races. We were reminded that racial and cultural difference and experiences are sometimes an uncomfortable topic for us to talk about. We worry that we will feel guilty, that we will say something wrong, that we may be judged. Nevertheless, it is an important topic to dive into without shame or guilt but with curiosity because we all have room to grow and learn and doing so is a gift to our neighbors who may be different from us.  Part 2 of the workshop which will be held later this year will give us skills to become more multiculturally competent.

It was a very rich morning. One of the things we were asked to do was to consider forming teams that would regularly walk 8 blocks in all directions from our church and take time to converse with those that we met, learn about their experience in our community, ask them how they have seen change in the community and if/when appropriate invite them to consider checking out the Asbury community. So watch for more news on that.

On the next day, Sunday, I was reminded once again of how God moves in our lives in interesting and interrelated ways. A young man, Alex, has arrived in our community and in our congregation. Alex comes to us from Guatemala via First United Methodist Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Alex is seeking Asylum in the USA. He had been living in Ypsilanti Michigan and was active in the First UMC in Ypsilanti. They had been assisting him and he had been active in their church. First UMC Ypsilanti contacted me before Alex arrived to ask if we would welcome him and I said of course!!. I am seeking to put together a group of people who will walk with Alex during the next several months. Alex understands English and speaks some and is becoming more fluent daily. His primary language is Spanish. Alex is living with a good friend and his Aunt a couple of miles from the church. Alex is 18 so I can only imagine how worried his family back in Guatemala must be. And I think if this was my son, I would want a church like Asbury to welcome him into the community. I am seeking to put together a group of people who will intentionally walk with Alex on his journey. There will be many different ways we can accomplish this including:

•             helping him learn the Livermore area,

•             doing research with Alex on groups that help with Asylum cases (there are several)

•             befriending Alex and welcoming him in our church, community and homes

•             Driving Alex and accompanying him to Asylum interviews

•             Helping Alex with the paperwork for Asylum

•             Help him figure out transportation options (I am wondering if a bike might be an option for getting around Livermore)

•             Eventually when its appropriate, helping him find a way to continue his education or training and to find work

•             Most likely fund raising to help with some of the Asylum expenses

As you can see, there are a variety of ways that folks can help walk with Alex through this time. There is also training for local church support groups for this work and we will seek out that training. If you might be interested in intentionally walking with Alex for the next several months, please let me know!!

On another front, I ask for your prayers as we approach the special General Conference that meets February 23-26 in St. Louis, MO. I especially ask that we pray for the delegates to approach this conference with love in their heart, with the intent to act ethically and with an openness to the leading of God’s spirit. On the Sunday that I am at General Conference, February 24, Don Fado will be our guest preacher. Chelsea will lead worship but she is just getting back from her vacation to Nepal and will probably have major jet lag! Don is a retired United Methodist Pastor who is an excellent preacher. He is the father of one of Asbury’s former Associate Pastors, Donna Fado Ivery.  Please give Don a warm welcome.

As always, I am glad to talk with you about what I have written above or any other matter.

Blessings,

Pastor Kathy

 

 

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