From a Bishop's Desk

A series of opinion articles and essays from bishop's of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and ecumenical partners.


Jericho Walk Reflection

Jun 24, 2019

By Bishop-Elect Paul Egensteiner

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Or what was expected of me. Together with members of our Synod’s Western Queens Conference and other concerned people, we would surround the Federal Building in lower Manhattan with prayer and a desire for justice and humane treatment of refugees. 26 Federal Plaza is a court building that also houses the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As the ancient Israelites did, we would walk around this building seven times, stopping each time to pray over the building and, most importantly, the people who appeared there and worked there. We would ask God to break down walls of injustice wherever they might be found.


And we did. The more we walked and prayed, the more committed I felt to the holy work we were doing. As we passed security guards, employees and people who had come to the building hoping for a better future, I made it my intention to focus on them with my eyes and my heart. I prayed, more passionately each time, that Jesus would bring freedom from fear and an ability for each person to see the face of God in the other, whomever they might be. And I prayed that a system that too often sees people as undesirable or a threat would appropriately see refugees in need of safety and a better life, foundational values of this country.

What was expected of me and those with whom I walked today? To show up. To bear witness. To pray. To challenge anything that denies respect and dignity for God’s children.

I got more than I expected: a feeling of participation in God’s own compassion and concern. And I, too, was blessed!