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I am an immigrant and a former refugee. I came from Cuba to the United States via Spain in the late ’60s. I belong to that group of people from the “Global South’’ who began migrating to this country by the millions after the liberalization of immigration laws in 1965.
Presbyterians are known as belonging to a “thinking” denomination. Our Reformed theology emphasizes the importance of having an educated clergy and an informed laity, and we have a long tradition of involvement in education, with more than 50 Presbyterian colleges and universities.
What does the Bible say about poverty? Is it an unfortunate but inevitable reality? Is it the fault of the poor themselves? Is it a way to get close to God? Is it a curse from God?
Several years ago, we faced a mystery in our home. When my older children were 3 and 4 years old, all of our children’s books were getting ruined. The pages were wrinkled, folded and ripping. The books could not fit on the shelves because the damaged pages made each book take up twice as much shelf space as it should have. We were forced to throw the kids’ favorite books in the garbage because they were unreadable. I saw it as a crisis of responsibility. How could our children be so careless with their possessions?
The minister was giving a sermon on “total giving.” When it came time to take up the offering, the plate came to a pew where there was a very small boy. He looked up at the usher and said, “Could you lower the plate?” Thinking that he wanted to see into the plate, the usher held it down a bit. “No,” said the boy, “a little lower, please.” The usher lowered it a bit more. “More; could you just put it on the floor?” the boy asked. The usher was aghast but finally put it on the floor. The boy stepped into it, stood there, and said, “This is what I give to the Lord.” — A Stewardship Scrapbook
On the day PC(USA) member Francis Ntowe’s sister was buried, there were six other funerals in her small community in Cameroon. “One of them was a pastor, and all of them had died from HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Every single one.”
In a few weeks, many of us will make our way to a place we call home in observance of Thanksgiving, our most religiously secular and secularly religious holiday. Gathered around a table of plenty, we will partake and share, acknowledging God’s gracious bounty to all and giving thanks for it.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words at Glenville High School in Cleveland on April 26, 1967. Several things have happened that have had me mulling on this concept of “somebodiness” and how, 50 years later, MLK’s words here are still so strikingly relevant.
Loan Nguyen waited anxiously at the airport for the arrival of a Syrian family that had traveled 13 hours from Jordan. The family, displaced by war in Syria, had spent more than two years in a refugee camp, trying to find a new home. The couple and their two small children were entering a country they did not know, and they had no idea what to expect.
I can still remember my first encounter with an overt racist. I must have been 8 or 9, and my friend and I were in the back seat. Her mom was driving and started talking to me.