Our country has always been open to receiving people from other lands, a process known to some as irritation.  It's a good thing.  Had our immigrant forefathers not been kicked out of other countries they could not have come here and stolen this place from the Indians.  As soon as Europe found out there were only Indians in the new world, and no lawyers or preachers, they began flocking to this new paradise.  The Puritans landed at Massachusetts Bay and discovered cooking oil and clean living. Then, after tiring of roasting chickens over an open fire, they began frying them.  Preachers soon followed. 

The Dutch landed on Manhattan Island, bought it for twenty-four dollars and discovered swindling. Lawyers soon followed.  The place was named New Amsterdam and the people were led by a Swede, Peter Stuyvesant.  He was actually from Switzerland but fled from there when he grew weary of watching the Swiss remain neutral, drink mocha and poke holes in perfectly good cheese. However, by this time the influx of the Europeans was spreading.  Fortunately, the doctors found a cure and gave everyone an influx shot.

Once the spread of influx was stopped, people began arriving in droves. But the droves were flimsy and crashed on the rocks so the people began using ships again.  The Quakers settled in Pennsylvania and invented oats and motor oil.  The Germans also settled in Pennsylvania and brought us bratwurst, and started brewing beer for Baptists to drink on the weekends.  In the 19th century there was a great potato famine in Ireland.  Dead potatoes were everywhere. It was like rummaging through a McDonald's trash bin in Idaho. So the Irish came to America.

The Protestants, who came here for religious freedom, practiced their new-found freedom by hating the Irish Catholics.  Prejudice, which had been limited to the white man hating the Indians, was now rearing its ugly head everywhere.  By the end of the century people were free to hate Italians, who brought really good loafers, suits and pizza; Greeks, who came bearing gifts (we were told to beware of them); Russians, who brought us caviar and hockey players with names we couldn't pronounce; and people from Alabama who brought us carp, cornhole, and eventually Bear Bryant  and Nick Saban.

Over the years people from all nationalities and backgrounds have found a home in our country, including a young woman named Maria Gonzalez.  She married an American named Steve Martin in Mexico in the late 1890's.  While they lived in Mexico his name was Esteban Martinez. They were my maternal grandparents.  My mother and five of her six brothers and sisters were born in Mexico. My mother's birth certificate said, "Maria Martinez."  My grandmother was a devout Catholic and a dear soul. I loved her immensely.  This little Arkansas boy had trouble understanding her broken English sometimes but we had a ball the one time of the year when I got to visit her. She had a wonderful sense of humor.  Because of  her Hispanic looks my mother faced prejudice when she  moved to Arkansas in 1945 to marry my father upon his return from the war. Why did that happen? Why does it happen now?

Why do we  judge people by the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, the country of their birth, the clothes on their back, or the location of their house?  That's not the way of Jesus.  His only prejudice was in hating sin.  He loved everyone equally. Some of his best friends were women, not a popular stand at the time. He healed lepers and visited with sinners.  Sometimes as Christians  our cries of condemnation  are louder and more frequent than  our calls for compassion. Have we never fully understood the story of the Good Samaritan?  The religious leaders were not the heroes.  The hated Samaritan was.  That one story is a microcosm of God's Church.  We are all sinners, no matter what race, culture, or economic background, saved by the grace of God.  Just ask the thief on the cross.  It's the "God so loved the world" portion of John 3:16.

Look at these lyrics from one of my favorite  Three Dog Night songs  - "The world is black, the world is white, it turns by day and then by night.  A child is black, a child is white, the whole world looks upon the sight, a beautiful sight." It sounds similar to the words of another old song.  It goes like this - "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow,  black and white, they are precious in His sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world."   The Church of Jesus Christ was never meant to be black, or white, or gray.  It was designed to be formed with a color palette.  If we as the Church don't learn to love all people, red and yellow, black and white . . . God just might get the blues.

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