When I served Christ Church, North Hills in Pittsburgh, we had as a sister parish, the remarkable Christ Church, Nazareth in Galilee (image below). We sent them money every year and they responded by taking care of many young people in Nazareth who had no other resources. They did wonderful things with the funds that we sent. When we visited Israel and that great church, we met their rector, Riah Abu al-Aassad who later became bishop of the Middle East. He proved to us what a great parish we were visiting.
I am struck by Nathanael’s response to Philip in the gospel a couple weeks ago (John 1: 43-51) when Philip told him about Jesus who was from Nazareth. Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?,” a snide remark intending to dismiss what Philip has said to him. He meets Jesus anyway who astounds him by saying to him, “here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathanael is immediately amazed at this and says that surely Jesus is the Son of God.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth, or anywhere? We have had our president dismiss Haiti, El Salvador, and the whole African continent as places from which we shouldn’t allow immigrants to come, while appealing to us to invite immigrants from “Norway.” The implicit racism in this exchange has been commented on by many people who are certainly familiar with the way that language is used in this strange noxious political climate that we have these days.
Just as something wonderful came out of Nazareth in Nathanael’s time, our Lord Jesus, and that good continues to come out of Nazareth in our own time, so do good things come out of all of those places in the world that were denounced by our president. Our mission as Christians is to show love to the world by the way that we live our lives. Love includes taking care of those who have very few resources and even sometimes no place at all to live in this world. That is sometimes what immigration is about. Showing love to people beyond our borders who are in need is a wonderful mission in these days. Yes, something good can come out of this effort. And something good can also come out of Washington. We need to encourage our elected leaders in their efforts to make that happen.
--The Rev. Rodge Wood
The Rev. Rodge Wood has been a close friend of St. Brendan’s for many years. He served as the Rector of Christ Church, North Hills for 18 years before retiring, and he and his wife Rosie now frequently attend services at St. Brendan’s. Rodge also writes his own blog, http://rodgewoodblog.blogspot.com/.