When Pharaoh calls you, and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our ancestors’ - in order that you may settle in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians. + Genesis 46:28-47:6
Jacob and his sons and their families immigrate to Egypt because conditions in their home country have become untenable. Son Joseph, who has gotten there ahead of them, advises them to take up shepherding, honest work that needs to be done, but which the Egyptians don’t want to do.
What was true then is true now: those who move to another country in search of a better life, unless they are highly skilled or educated, will likely end up doing the jobs that the natives avoid.
Who mows your lawn?
Who cleans your mother’s nursing home?
Who does your manicure?
Who picked the oranges for the juice on your breakfast table?
Have you taken time to meet them, or are they wallpaper to your life? What do you know about their wages? Their health care coverage? How sure are you that what you buy, or eat, or wear isn’t breaking their bodies or minds on its way to you?
These questions of justice are worth thinking about because if the story that we tell is true, then the aliens in our midst aren’t cheap labor; they’re God’s chosen people. For our own good as well as theirs, it’s worth treating them well.
I mean, look what happened to Pharaoh in the end.
God, you were once an alien residing in this land, and we did not treat you well. Give us the grace to learn from our mistakes, and to treat the aliens in our midst as we would treat our own family. Amen.
A big thank you to Rev. Quinn Caldwell, Associate Pastor of Old South Church (in Boston) and regular contributor to the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional where this little gem was originally published. To sign up for this inspirational resource, click here. Also, thanks to Charles Rodstrom for this bowl full of organges!