I read with interest the remarks a neighboring Rabbi made to his congregation at a recent Shabbat service. He spoke about an upcoming march/rally in support of our local immigrant community and of the increased pressure and fear that community is experiencing. In framing his remarks, he referenced the story of the Exodus, told and retold a week or so ago as the Jewish community celebrated Passover. Oppression. Slavery. Struggle for recognition and freedom. Journey to a new land. Their foundational story. Like the immigrant community, through that story, if not through their life experience, they know what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land.
In reading his remarks, I was struck by how different the foundational story is for Christians in the United States. Specifically, Christians whose heritage is European. Particularly western European. While our reference point is Jesus, a poor, itinerant Rabbi whose vision of a how life and world should be got him executed by the Roman authorities, our foundational story in this country has much more to do with manifest destiny and the ushering in of the new Jerusalem. A story which sometimes (often?) tilts towards arrogance and a sense of superiority.
To the extent that cultural Christianity continues to shape our national discourse, I wonder how much our different stories shape our understanding of the outsider. The stranger. The immigrant.