The Wall on our Southern Border is Built on Racism and a Myth

We are told we need a wall on our border because terrorists could come into our country. 

1. If this is the case, then why aren’t we building a wall on the northern border, which is twice as long and ten times easier to cross? There are no known cases of terrorists crossing the southern border to carry out plots in the U.S. 

The truth is, we have much darker reasons for walling off our southern border, and it has to do with race. Immigration policy in the U.S. Has always been about keeping out undesirables. In the late 1800’s The U.S. Completely cut off Chinese immigration, because they were considered sub-human. They would entropy the fabric of society. 
2. The wall is also built on a myth: The evil we fear is “out there,” not in here. If we just put up a wall, we can keep the evil out. 

The events of this week, with the death of nine Bible study participants at Morher Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, at the hands of a white supremacist out to teach us that. Yes, 9/11 was committed by outsiders (who, by the way, didn’t come across the southern border) but the second most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. History was committed by an American: Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing. 

Good theology teaches us sin and evil are universal. No wall can keep it out. 


There was no border wall until 2008. San Diego has a triple wall. The cameras haven’t worked. They can’t distinguish between a two-legged coyote and four-legged coyote. 

Wall in Hidalgo, Texas cost $12,000,000 per mile. 22 miles. The entire southern border is 1,933 miles. 

Minimum wage in Mexico just went up to $6.40/day. PER DAY. As long as there is extreme poverty out there, and a better life in here, no wall will keep them out. Show me a 10-foot wall and I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder. Walls don’t work. Ask China. Ask Berlin. 

The wall has affected the ecosystem, disrupting migratory patterns. 

The wall also damages trade. In 2012, trade between the U.S. and Mexico totaled $472,933,986 billion, roughly the equivalent of $1.3 billion a day or $1 million per minute. 98.5% of Texas exports go to Mexico.  According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 463,132 jobs in Texas rely on trade with Mexico. The border region of the United States and Mexico – comprised of ten border states and nearly 100 million people – would be the 4th largest world economy.

According to the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, the U.S. economy loses $1.5 billion in output, $400 million in wages, $200 million in tax revenues, and 6,700 jobs due to border wait times in El Paso. Economic losses are projected to increase to over $2.6 billion in output, $600 million in wages, $300 million in tax revenues and 11,500 jobs by 2017. 
There are no known cases of terrorists who came across the southern border with ill intentions for the U.S. There were some who came across the northern border where there is no wall, but they came over legally and were caught. 

Administration officials said they are more concerned about jihadists entering the U.S. legally on commercial airline flights. 

Our border is as secure as a border can get without a military state. Border are by nature porous.  Border crossing are at a historic low. Our border fever is just that, a fever, based on racism and the myth that we can keep the bad guys out. This fever is costing us tax dollars, trade dollars and our humanity. 

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7.5.15 is Pentecost 6B, 2 Corinthians 12

A Heart for Reconciliation: A Walk Through 2 Corinthians

Background Material and Sermon Helps

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 – The elders make a covenant with David and anoint him. 
Ezekiel 2:1-5 – Call of Ezekiel: Whether they hear or not, they shall know a prophet has been among them.

Psalm 48 – The city of Zion is established forever.
Psalm 123 – Our eyes look to you, O God, until you show us your mercy. (Ps. 123:3)

2 Corinthians 12:2-10 – Paul’s out of body experience, and his thorn in the flesh. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Mark 6:1-13– A prophet is not without honor except in his own country. Jesus sends the twelve two-by-two.

Week 5: Powerful Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Second Corinthians has several natural breaks. The lessons in our first three Sundays came from chapters 1-7, which constitute a sustained argument for reconciliation. Last week our lesson came from chapters 8-9, which contained an appeal to raise money for the poor in Jerusalem.

Chapters 10-13, from which comes our final lesson, form Paul’s strongest argument. In rhetoric, one moves from the smallest to the weightiest arguments. There is a significant shift in the tone now. Paul mounts an all out attack on his opponents. The difference is so marked some scholars believe these last three chapters are part of a different letter that has been grafted on to chapters 1-9.

Ben Witherington III, in Conflict and Community in Corinth, A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, believes chapters 10-13 belong to the original letter. He shows that Paul has been bringing up these opponents all along. In chapter 1, Paul responds to an accusation of waffling on whether he’s coming or not. Who is making the accusation? In chapter 2 (verse 17), he says he and his companions are not peddlers of the gospel “like so many.” This is clearly a jab at someone. In chapter 3, he mentions those who need letters of recommendation, and so on. He’s been bringing it up subtly. Now he will go on a full frontal attack.

In chapter 10, Paul says, “For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’ Let such people understand that what we say by letter when absent, we will also do when present.” Paul is being critiqued in his absence.

In chapter 11:4-5, Paul says, “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.” He names his competition now. They are “super-apostles.” In verse 13 he calls them false apostles. He then boasts of his weakness: beatings and shipwrecks, hunger and thirst. He concludes with a most humiliating experience: escaping punishment by being let down the city wall in a basket. In Acts, Luke uses this story to illustrate Paul’s cleverness. Here Paul himself uses it to describe his weakness. Witherington points out the Romans gave an award for being first up the wall in a siege. Here Paul boasts of being the first down the wall.

This leads into our passage for today. Paul shares a vision story, an out-of-body (or possibly in-body experience, he’s not sure himself) experience, perhaps his version of his conversion. He tells it in the third person but it is clearly autobiographical. In this vision he is taken up into the third heaven, which he calls “paradise.” There was plenty of speculation in Paul’s day about how many levels heaven had.

Paul seems to be saying that even though his opponents have had amazing visions, he too has also had visions and revelations, he just doesn’t boast about them much.          In order to keep him from getting to puffed-up about his revelations, God gave him a thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what this thorn in the flesh is, though there has been no small amount of speculation over the last 2000 years. In Galatians, Paul mentions a problem with his eyes, which may also tied back to his conversion experience, where he was struck blind for a time. This fits well. Paul, however, also uses the flesh to talk about our sinful nature, so he could be talking about a moral failing he has.

Paul prayed for the thorn to be taken away, but God said “No. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This is central to Paul’s theology. The more pride one has, the more one is puffed-up, the less one is in Christ. For in Christ, the power of God is made perfect in our weakness. This counters ancient ideas about power and Roman theologies about how deity works. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthian 8:1)

Paul is not powerful. He is not a big person. The only description of him we have is as a small, bald person. In fact the word Paul means “small.” He may have had some eye problems as referenced in Galatians 4:15. He had walked all over the Empire and been beaten numerous times almost to death. The power of the gospel came through his weakness, not through his strength.

Likewise, the strength of the church comes not through our pride or insisting of our own way, but rather through our humility, gentleness, kindness, and willingness to bear the sufferings of those in need. When the church rises up and demands its own way, insisting on its rights in society, it misses the power of the love of Christ to which it is called.

Jesus is a suffering messiah with a crown of thorns. His power comes through weakness. Paul is a suffering apostle with a thorn in the flesh. His power comes through weakness. How will it be for you, for me, and for the church? In the wake of Independence Day, we should give thanks that we are free to love, free to serve, free to give our earth and lives away for the sake of the gospel.

If there has been any recurring theme throughout 2 Corinthians it has been the heart. Do not lose heart. Open your heart. As we conclude this study of 2 Corinthians, let us follow Christ who taught us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, as the two greatest commandments. Let us remember that we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, so that we can remember that the power comes not from us, but through us.

Texts and Themes

Pentecost 2B: June 72 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 – Don’t Lose Heart. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed daily.

Pentecost 3B: June 142 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17New Creation. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. We walk by faith and not by sight, at home in the body and away from the Lord.

Pentecost 4B: June 212 Corinthians 6:1-13Open Heart. Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation. We have endured beatings, riots, hunger, imprisonment…

Pentecost 5B: June 282 Corinthians 8:7-15Eager Generosity. The offering for the poor in Jerusalem. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

Pentecost 6B: July 52 Corinthians 12:2-10Powerful Weakness. Paul’s out of body experience, and his thorn in the flesh. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

More Information on the Study of 2 Corinthians

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The Charleston Victims

  In memoriam…



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Prayer Vigil for the victims in Charleston

I plan to attend the Prayer Vigil/Press Conference for Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church tomorrow, Saturday, June 20, 2015. Join me if you wish. 
The vigil will be held at 5:00 pm at Wesley A.M.E. Church in Houston, Texas. The church is located on the corner of Dowling and Webster at 2209 Dowling Street Houston, Texas 77003.

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The Rev. Honorable Clementa Pinckney

Here is a video of The Rev. Honorable Clementa Pinckney that shares some history of the congregations. 

The Rev. Honorable Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. in Charleston (the oldest A.M.E. church in the South, was a 2008 graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. As you can imagine the seminary community is reeling with grief along with the congregation and families. The video below will give you a sense of this articulate pastor and Senator who lost his life last night. 

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Mother Emanuel in Charleston

We must look not only at the individual , but at the society that creates him. 

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Israeli Settlers Allegedly Burn the Church of the Loaves and Fishes

Earlier today in Israel, the Church of the Loaves and Fishes was burned:

This church is run by the Benedictines, on the site where tradition holds Jesus had the Feeding of the 5,000, a story which appears in all four gospels. This story comes up in our lectionary readings in a few weeks, on July 26, 2015. 

I visited the Church of the Loaves and Fishes on January 15, 2009. It is the site of the most famous mosaic in the Holy Land. 

The Washington Post reported: 

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the arson attack resembled previous acts of vandalism by Jewish extremists who have targeted monasteries, churches, mosques and cemeteries. He said Hebrew graffiti was scrawled at the site, including a verse from a Jewish prayer reading, “False idols will be smashed.”

Sadly, Christians are being pushed out of the Holy Land. Violence by Israeli settlers is out of control, by admission of the local authorities. The native populations, many of whom are Christians whose families date back to the days of the first churches, are under persecution. Keep these people in your prayers. 

Note: Here is a press release from the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry…

New York, NY, June 18, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today strongly condemned the suspected religiously motivated hate crime against the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish at Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
ADL called the attack an “affront to all religions and a serious blow to Israeli society,” and called on Israeli law enforcement to fully investigate the suspected hate crime and prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law.
The 1500 year-old Church was set ablaze early Thursday morning, causing damage to the prayer room and outer areas of the Church. Graffiti reading “False idols will be smashed” – a line from Jewish prayer – was spray painted on one of the Church walls.
“We deplore this despicable hate crime against one of the holiest Christian sites in Israel as an affront to all religions and a serious blow to Israeli society,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, “We express our full support and solidarity with the Roman Catholic community and all Christians affected by this hateful act.”
Mr. Foxman added, “The zealots who committed this heinous attack represent the most extreme elements of society, and must be swiftly apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We welcome the strong condemnation and commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prosecute the perpetrators, and underscore his sentiment that hatred and intolerance have no place in Israeli society.”

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