Prayer for Immigrants (and prayer of confession)
Jesus—crucified and risen—draws us into his presence again, the one who had nowhere to laid his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.
We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being, and fret about 'illegal immigrants.'
We fret because they are not like us and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines, because we imagine that our life is under threat.
And yet, as you know very well, we, all of us—early or late—are immigrants from elsewhere; we are glad for cheap labor and seasonal workers who do tomatoes and apples and oranges to our savoring delight.
And beyond that, even while we are beset by our fears and aware of pragmatic costs, we know very well that you are the God who welcomes strangers, and who loves aliens and protects sojourners.
As always, we feel the tension and the slippage between the deep truth of our faith and the easier settlements of our society.
We do not ask for an easy way out, but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in the presence of those unlike us; give us generosity amid demands of those in need, help us to honor those who trespass as you forgive our trespasses.
You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us into agents of your will, that our habits and inclinations may more closely follow your majestic lead, that our lives may joyously conform to your vision of a new world.
We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus. Amen.
This prayer by Walter Brueggemann appears in Prayers for a Privileged People (Abingdon Press, 2008).
Prayer of Confession
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and Neighbor.
We let our system of laws take advantage of the immigrants, using their labor for our benefit, while not fully including them in our community and society.
We have betrayed our neighbor by worshiping human made laws over the commandments of God.
Repentance, fasting, prayer, study, works of love and welcoming the stranger help us return to that love of God.
We confess we have not loved You with all our heart, and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
I invite you now to recommit yourselves to love of God and Neighbor, and be part of fixing a broken immigration system that has brought pain and separation for thousands of families.
Oh God, accept our repentance today, for the way we have allowed neglect of civil and human rights.
Let our indifference to injustice end here and now, as the struggle for citizenship and full inclusion for our immigrant brothers, sisters, mother and fathers continues today.
This prayer was prayed on Ash Wednesday, 2013, for a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Immigration.
You'll find lots more on immigration at the resource page for our free small group study guide As the Citizen Among Us: Loving the Immigrant as Ourselves.