The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We are all familiar with the end of this poem. We all know this the message of the Statue of Liberty greeting immigrants as they once approached our shores.
But the whole poem is amazing. “Mother of Exiles.” “World-wide welcome.” “Tired, poor, huddled masses, wretched refuse, homeless, tempest-tost.”
All of these people are welcome at our shores.
Or at least, they once were.
Let me be the first to admit: ISIS scares me. This is an enemy that does not fight the way enemies fought in the past. This is not as simple as Germany and Japan forming the Axis while the Allies show up and fight. Some wars have had some well-defined boundaries and well-defined combatants.
This enemy does not.
But if I am afraid from half a world away, what must it be like to live in the presence of such evil day after day? There are hundreds of thousands displaced people running from daily atrocities like we witnessed over social media and news broadcasts in Paris and Beirut last week. Hundreds of thousands Exiles, homeless, tempest-tost human beings running for their lives.
And in America we have governors responding in the most Hitler-esque fashion possible: “Your kind is not welcome here.”
In America we have people who cry out with one breath “all lives matter” and with the next “bomb all Muslims off the face of the earth.”
In the church we say the risk is too great.
I am scared. The world we live in is the not world we are used to. The enemy does not fight the same way they used to.
But one thing remains the same: God is the God of the immigrant. God is the God of the homeless, the poor, and the frightened. God is the God of people who are running for their lives.
And the people of God need to be about the business of God.
So let me say this: if you are an immigrant, if you are a Muslim, if you are a refugee you are welcome in my home. I want to have a meal with you. I want to invite you into my life.
I welcome the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I welcome the ones who have no place to call home.
This may not matter. After all, I doubt this is going to reach too many people for whom the invitation is offered. But if you happen to come across it, let me know.
Emma Lazarus did not just write a cool sounding poem. Lazarus wrote prophetic words that should be true of all God’s people.
So give me the tired, the poor, the immigrant, the refugee. Come to my doorstep.
You are invited.
You are welcome.