Faith Beyond Borders
Rev. Mr. Mickey Friesen, D.Min. from Minnesota
During my adult life I have basically had two jobs. One was serving in the military as a police officer and customs inspector. The other has been serving as a minister in the church. One big similarity between these two professions is that in both you get to be with people at their best and at their worst. One big difference is that as a cop I was taught to always be in control and as a minister the goal is to never be in control.
As a customs inspector and policeman it was my job to protect the borders of our country and enforce the law. On the contrary, as a minister, I am constantly inviting people to drop their defenses, let go of their need to control and put their trust in an unconditionally loving God. The scriptures proclaim that the law can’t save us; only the Spirit. In fact, we are told that the mission of the Church is to go beyond any borders to proclaim good news to the “ends of the earth” and build communion and solidarity with our sisters and brothers around the world.
We are living through a year that has pushed us to pay greater attention to borders. A lot of time and money are being spent to reinforce our national borders. The border disputes between Pakistan and India has led those two countries almost to the brink of nuclear war. The border between Israel and Palestine continues to be the source of unrelenting bloodshed. The revelations of corporate fraud threaten the borders of financial security. In our own church we face the violation of personal borders as we come to terms with the clergy scandal. How do we engage the borders of our lives?
The need to secure our borders is imperative, but won’t ever be enough. The need for law, security, policy and enforcement are necessary, but probably won’t be sufficient to change hearts and bring about any lasting peace and healing. The best it can do is prepare us for the true transformation of consciousness that St. Paul speaks of in his letter to the Galatians when he said: “Before faith came we were under the constraint of the law, locked in until the faith that was coming should be revealed. In other words, the law was our monitor until Christ came to bring about our justification through faith. But now that faith is here, we are no longer in the monitor’s charge. Each one of you is a son (or daughter) of God because of your faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with him. There does not exist among you Jew and Greek, slave or free, male and female. All are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:23-28). Christ came to reconcile all the borders that alienate us from our neighbors.
Faith honors the necessity of borders, but keeps calling us to reach beyond them. Faith moves us from requirements to relationships; from security to solidarity. The Eucharist we share invites us to keep looking beyond the borders of bread and wine to see our Savior and God. This notion came home to me recently in a poem written by Jacqueline Tulluch who is a 7th grader at Holy Redeemer School in Montgomery, MN. Jacqueline is the national winner of the Columban
Missionaries 2002 Poem / Prayer Contest. Her poem is titled:
Beyond Borders – Who is My Neighbor?
Away in a stream is a water filled with dreams.
The people who have dreamed are never what they seem.
Underneath the different skin is the pain and joy hidden within.
It doesn’t matter the race or the difference in a face,
Because all of us are people the way God has us be.