Last weekend I had the privilege of participating in “Called to the Wall,” the annual Lenten Via Crucis pilgrimage to the U.S. – Mexico border in support of immigrants that is co-sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, and the Anglican Church of Mexico. I’ve never payed much attention to what is happening in the world of immigration, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to celebrate the Eucharist at the border as one community in Christ.
This was my first time at the border, and in a way it felt like the people on the other side were in jail. I couldn’t help but wonder what it felt like to them. We were all at the border for the same reason, to celebrate the love of Christ, but we couldn’t physically celebrate the Eucharist together because of a physical barrier. I began to think about the barriers we put up in our own lives that prevent us from sharing God’s love with one another. I think fear is the biggest barrier in my life. I fear what will happen if I stop and talk to the homeless man on the street who looks like he could use a conversation just as much as he could use a hot meal. I am scared to talk to people from other races, religions, and cultures about their life because I’m afraid I will say something stupid or offensive. I think a big part of my EUIP year has been learning how to combat this fear in order to live in communion with others.
It was especially powerful to experience this day with fellow EUI Edgar. On the way home he told us the story of how his family crossed the border. He also told us about some of the difficult times his family has gone through as a result of them being immigrants to this country. I am grateful that EUIP has opened doors for me to have experiences like this and conversations with people who don’t have the same background as I do.
At the beginning of the Eucharist, we prayed, “Strengthen us to welcome those from other lands, cultures, and religions, that we may live in human solidarity and in hope. Give us courage to open the door to our neighbors and grace to build a society of justice so that we may proclaim the undying love of our Savior Jesus Christ.” It is our job as children of God to be welcoming to our neighbor, but how many of us actually practice this in our everyday lives? How many of us continue to live in our own little worlds because we feel safe and comfortable? I think we forget that Jesus was an immigrant – from heaven to earth.
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee's Urban Service Programs. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service.