“Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here…” – Ephesians 2:17-19 (The Message)
I have yet to hear any mention of “crossover” that does not immediately cause me to think of immigrants. Caring for and about immigrants is not only part of our Judeo-Christian faith tradition, but it is a somewhat new and very particular part of my call.
Recently, I stumbled across another crossover story online. (What follows will be far more meaningful if you read that original post.) It grabbed my attention because the author/guest blogger, Bob Ekblad, happens to have connections to our region. The story he begins with takes place on Fir Island, near the Skagit River in Washington. It’s a story of agricultural workers that could easily have come from many places, including places very near my own home.
Ekblad describes a conversation with an undocumented worker who has been condemned by many people who tell them they speak from a place of Christian faith. Ekblad responds, “…I believe that in the Kingdom of God there are no borders and that God views us all as beloved children. If salvation were about obeying the law, then all of us are damned. I tell him that I’ve been seeing Jesus more and more as our Buen Coyote. Jesus crosses us over into the Kingdom against the law, by grace.”
I was—and I still am—especially struck by this idea of Jesus as el buen coyote, the one who breaks some laws in order to fulfill the Gospel.
I put a significant amount of effort into seeing various sides of issues and different perspectives on matters that come to my attention, but there are plenty of circumstances where there is a clear line. With so much talk about crossover, I am paying extra attention to how I respond to those lines.
Immigration requires crossing an international boundary line, and there are many ways to do that. When it comes to matters of safety and wellbeing, for instance, I refuse to cross lines that will put children at risk. But when there are terrifying risks on both sides of the line, then what?
I don’t know how a parent ever makes the choice between staying in la patria (the homeland) where their children are in grave danger and crossing an international border into the land of opportunity that is riddled with countless other risks. Church polity and biblical obedience present another line.
It is not always so simple as right and wrong, at least not as I see it. Sometimes there is a choice between being right and doing right. Other times, it is still far more complicated…and often heartbreaking.
Recently I have found comfort, hope, and new perspectives by referring to worship resources from other cultures. I have several favorites from Fiesta Christiana: Recursos para la Adoración (Resources for Worship), including “The Immigrants Creed” by Jose Luis Casal. (Spanish and English text available here. Video with Spanish and English available here.)
Since coming across this idea of Jesus as el buen coyote, my prayer has been this: May the only lines I ever cross be those that Jesus, El Buen Coyote, leads me across.
Rev. Karen Hernandez is Sage District Superintendent in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Don’t be fooled by the name—she’s una gabacha (a white girl) who seeks to confront privilege and racism, beginning with her own.