Tonight I’m a very happy man. Tired, but very glad. For the past few days I’ve been chairing an advisory committee at the CRC Synod in Chicago. One of the big items on our agenda was to shepherd through Synod the Study Committee Report on the Migration of Workers.
It’s a report birthed in pain – the pain of so many migrant workers who come seeking a life but now live daily in fear, the pain of cultural misunderstanding within the CRC at a past Synod. But it’s a wonderful report that outlines how we, as a Christian community, can respond with the welcoming grace and compassion of Jesus to undocumented immigrants and refugees in Canada and the United States. It’s a highly polarized issue rife with hardened political positions on either side of the political spectrum. But this report laid out the marvellous biblical narrative, how we are all aliens but welcomed by God, and called to enfold the stranger, extending the same welcoming grace to others that we’ve received.
Preparing for the discussion and debate that happened tonight, I worried about the potential for debate to turn ugly, I was anxious that partisan political agendas and talk-radio vitriol would dominate. But instead we heard stories of real people who are affected by this reality. Tonight we saw a move of the Holy Spirit in the CRC to openly embrace the call of this report, we saw God taking the hurt, pain and alienation of the past and turning it into healing, into a commitment to accept the “alien within our gates” and to serve the voiceless marginalized.
Tonight, I’m rejoicing in the beauty of God’s church, which can shine with glory; I’m revelling in the large heart of the Christian Reformed Church, a Dutch-immigrant church that is understanding that perhaps its best gift to North America today is to reach back to our immigrant past and respond to the needs of the many new strangers from across the globe coming to cities and towns; I’m glad for the wisdom of so many thoughtful gifted people God has blessed the CRC with, and some of whom I’ve been privileged to work with on this report.
I’m tired, but it’s a glad weariness. This work at Synod reminds me that joy will have the last word, that “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)