There is an old saying that can be quite appropriate at this time of the year: Cold hands, warm heart. In other words, even if the weather is unbearably cold, one can still have a tenderness and hospitable attitude toward others. I would like to change that saying just a bit: Cold hands, expectant heart. Let me explain why.
Last evening, as I have done now on several occasions, I gathered with others for a prayer vigil close to a large detention center in Aurora, Colorado. It was the largest group I had been a part of, with individuals of all ages and from across the theological spectrum. The sun had set long before: 6 p.m. in Colorado in January is very different from 6 p.m. in the summer or early fall months!
It was not only dark; it was frightfully cold. Most had gloves (I did not, and I paid the price!), and all had some form of head covering. We stood at the main intersection with our signs and banners. Some held candles. Most cars simply passed by, but others honked to show their approval. It was not the annoyed honking of an angry driver during a ride home from work. No, these cheered our hearts in the darkness and the cold.
After a prayer together, we marched single file in front of the center. Some chanting, "Sí se puede" ("Yes, it can be done") and "Pueblo unido, jamás sera vencido" ("The people united, never will be divided"). We could see some detainees waving to us through the windows. After a while, a local congresswoman spoke briefly about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. And then we walked back to our corner and parted our different ways. A small and brief protest done in peace, with the hope for change.
Legislation for immigration reform has already been introduced in the House. Sometime this spring a bill will also be introduced in the Senate. The discussion and debates will begin. Perhaps over the coming months the country will witness the creation of laws that reflect the best of this country's values. We will see.
Over the next couple of months I will present a series of studies on this blog that will look at Old Testament law and its treatment of the sojourner. As we move to legislation for our day, we can learn from God's timeless word.
Last night was wintry to say the least. My toes were numb, and my nose frozen. Ahhh yes, but as they say: cold hands, expectant heart.
M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas) is Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary and the founder of its Spanish-language training program (IDEAL). He is the author of Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible (Baker Academic, 2008). Visit his blog.