By Rev. Hannah R. Terry
FAM (Fondren Apartment Ministry) of Westbury United Methodist Church
If you live in Houston and decide to drive south on route 59 for about five hours, you’ll find the city of McAllen,Texas. In McAllen, you’ll find unforgettable tortillas. You’ll find sun-scorched valley soil. And you’ll find a wall near the Rio Bravo.
It’s a concrete wall being built to reinforce the border between Mexico and the USA. To narrate and enforce distinctions regarding who is supposed to live and be on which side of the river. To cross between the countries, there’s a gate. And the gate is lined with video cameras, lights, signs, and armed officers.
On a recent mission trip with clergy friends, we entered through the gate and crossed over the border without a hitch. After we visited missionary colleagues and shared chile relleno and prayer, we headed back to the gate opening to US land. Before we passed through the gate, we were asked to stop the van, hand over our passports, and wait while border patrol determined whether or not we were cleared. It all took less than five minutes.
We drove on and picked up our friendly conversation. But I heard tiredness in my colleagues' voices. I imagine it could have been tiredness from the constant sun that afternoon. It could have been tiredness from the bumpy van ride and the flat-tire-repair-adventure we had had that morning.
It could have been tiredness from the rich chile relleno just a few hours prior. But it also cold have been tiredness in not knowing how to best come alongside and work for establishing justice at the city gate. Tiredness as our heads spun from seeing and encountering stories of pain and stories of hope told by Latino and Latina missionary friends and laity. Tiredness in seeing the pain of people and nations divided but not yet seeing how the fullness of the gospel can heal these particular nations and systems.
I imagine this was not simply tiredness though that I heard—this was perhaps tiredness paired with expectant longing. Expectant longing for God to reveal the next steps for these pastors in working for the establishment of justice at the city gate in McAllen. Expectant longing for how this pilgrimage would reshape how we would see our communities Expectant longing to hear how God was calling us to establish justice at city gates to which we were returning. And expectant longing for strength to boldly take the next step for justice with our neighbors and refugee brothers and sisters.
Prayer: Lord, we confess that we do not always hate evil and love good and establish justice at the city gate.We’re sorry. We humbly ask for you to teach, change, and empower us to establish justice at our own gates.
1. What gates—physical or metaphorical—are nearest you and your home?
2. Are there any people separated by these gates? If so, who are they?
3. What could it look like to participate in establishing justice at these gates?