From a Pastor's Desk

A series of opinion articles from rostered ministers and lay leaders from our Synod.


The Jericho Walk Prayer

Jun 20, 2019

By The Rev. Jeanne (Barsumian) Rineer Warfield, Dean of the MNYS WQueens Conference

Today [#WorldRefugeeDay] I act in the present remembering the past, with future yearning. I engage this Thursday's #JERICHOWALK; seven circuits silently around the building at 26 Federal Plaza, NYC. 
I am grateful to walk with all these people: new friends, leaders of New Sanctuary Coalition: Micah, Ravi Ragbir, Marta; members of our MNYSynod: ELCA Sanctuary Team, my bishop-elect Paul Egensteiner, two recently-freed-from-detention young asylum-seekers, and dear colleagues from WQConference-MNYSynod: ELCA, along with others present to me through prayer.
I walk seeing a line of bodies reflected in the glass wall of the courthouse entrance space as we go by. We are on a mission.
I walk nodding my head and exchanging smiles with passersby; no words. We are a silent, yet lively witness. We are a curiosity, this line of silent walkers. For some, we are in-the-way. For some, we are discomfort. For some, we are delight. We are here, that is clear, and on the move.
I walk remembering my Armenian forebear - the grandfather I never met. He was excised from his homeland, walked the desert and would not die. In 1911, he entered the gates of Ellis Island, sailing passed Liberty. I walk, passing the African Burial Ground National Monument. I am mindful of persons stolen from their homes, set as cargo on the sea. The Middle Passage was a desert journey of a different deathly sort. When these ancestors arrived on this shore there was no liberty. I am ‘white’ because December 24, 1909, a circuit court judge in Boston at an immigration hearing declared Armenians were a white race; privilege born.

Realizing my third generation white privilege and rights inherent by my birth in this land, I walk in silent protest seven circuits round. 
On the first circuit, I see a clear plastic baby soother on the ground at a sidewalk crossing into the building. Where is its owner? There is no babe. No child. No one present. Is the owner in need of soothing? Is she inside and anxious? Have they rushed out with relief or in agonizing tears? Does he cry out for more than this "fooler"? No one disturbs this icon on the ground. 
For five circuits I and all others walk by this fallen "binkie". I see it each time and repeatedly ponder my questions. On the sixth circuit the soother. is. gone. 
Now. *More* questions. Who will soothe the future? What companion can outlast this new middle passage time, this new desert journey time that leads us to devalue one another? From whom comes the liberty we need to resist Siren Songs that bind us to sin and the chaos of systemic evil? In the silence, as deep calls to deep, I sense some answers.
After the seventh circuit I stand on the steps, my hand raised pressing out at the building, - this icon of strife for workers and distressor for worried clients. I pray aloud the JERICHO WALK PRAYER with others. And I cry out.
**Holy One, see and hear the Shofar sound of an afflicted people and babes who miss soothers. Open us to your clear-path for just immigration practices that honor people, not with identity labeled through human will, rather as we are: each bearing your beautifully diverse yet made-of-one-love image. Reveal your fair and loving ways to judges, agents, clients, and court & governmental systems. Guide us each and all to align with truth and true love in this life's journey. For you are the One. Who listens. And loves. Who is liberty. And life. Who lifts the downtrodden. And restores the lost. And You. Are The One. Who. Transforms.**