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Holy Everything: Our trust and love is without borders

January 21, 2019

The mountains turned from blue to pink to gray as the sun was setting tonight in El Paso, Texas. The rays reflected and illuminated the peaks and valleys in ever-changing ways.

The shifting of hues was reminiscent of the changes happening in my own heart. New realities are being revealed, and it’s altering the depths of my spirit. I’m in this region of the country, joined by four others from the organization I serve, for a week-long Border Immersion Experience. We’re here in pursuit of love.

The Border Servant Corps, the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, N.M., work in partnership to provide an experience of learning and accompaniment for those who would like to participate. During the week, we will worship, serve refugees from Central America, learn as much as possible about immigration, savor times of fellowship, and root ourselves in an ongoing spirit of accompaniment.

I’m here in my professional ministry role; I’m also here as a human seeking to understand a lot more than I currently do about what’s actually happening at the U.S.-Mexico border.

As of this evening, the government is still shut down, which will have implications for our week. We don’t yet know if immigration court will take place Tuesday. We are also unsure if there will be Central American refugees to accompany and serve as they transition to their sponsoring families. What we do know is that we’re here and we’re ready.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul directs the people to “pursue love.” After a long and beautiful exposition in chapter 13 about the beauty and importance of love, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they actually have to pursue it. The original Greek word that is translated into English as pursue is “dioko.” It means, “to run swiftly to catch” and “to press forward” and “to seek with earnestness.”

From these descriptions, I get the sense that Paul was conveying that there is an active element to love. It isn’t solely something we give, receive and experience. Sometimes love invites us to consciously move toward it, to press forward with an open heart ready to encounter it whenever and however it shows up.

We began our time in El Paso with a Sunday worship service. Pastor Rose Mary led the bilingual service in Spanish and English. In the sermon, she highlighted the story of John the Baptist and Jesus from Luke, chapter 3. “We are all called by God!” she proclaimed. “But do we really allow the Spirit to transform us? Because remember, the Spirit has that power. … It can be scary, but it’s good.”

After the sermon, we sang a hymn called “Oceans.” One of the verses read, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders/Que to Espiritu me guide sin fronteras.” These are my prayers for the week ahead: for transformation of our hearts by the Holy Spirit and for trust without borders.

Today’s column is Part 1 of what I hope will be a two-part series. I’ll share more after I’ve returned to Minnesota. I’m just beginning an experience unlike anything I’ve had before. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Holy Everything is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor serving at the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Office in Rochester. Visit her blog at emilyannecarson.com.

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