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‘Show kindness and mercy to one another. Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner or the poor’ – (Zechariah 7:9-10).
The scandal surrounding the ‘Windrush generation’ has posed questions for all of us about our attitude to immigrants. European countries have got into the paradoxical situation of needing immigrants but not wanting them.
Just as West Indian immigrants played a significant role in rebuilding the UK after the war, so we depend on new immigrants today to provide essential services.
Yet we have created an environment of hostility towards immigrants. What is the answer?
Some ethical questions are difficult and divisive for people of faith. But this ought to be an easy one. Time and again the Hebrew scriptures tell us that God ‘executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourners giving them food and clothing’.
Unsurprisingly, we are commanded to do likewise: ‘Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in Egypt’ – (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
The fact that such commandments were given indicates that oppression of the vulnerable is something that is likely to happen. Immigrants are often a target.
Yet they can also be agents of change, not least from a faith perspective. Abraham was a migrant and Jesus was a refugee. Not to mention Columba, Moluag and others who came as immigrants to Argyll, bringing their faith with them.
In fact, the migrant experience appears to be a fertile one for faith. When the Christian faith began to spread, it followed the pattern of migration that had been formed by the Jewish diaspora. Ever since, migrants have proved to be agents of mission, discovering faith for themselves and sharing it with others. What if it is immigrants today who hold the key not only to sustaining our society but also to the renewal of our faith?
Rev Kenneth Ross,
Parish Minister, Netherlorn