Thirty miles from here, in New York harbor, there is a poem on the wall of a national monument that contains words that sound similar:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These are, of course, the words of the poet Emma Lazarus that are inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. They give expression to the hopes of millions of people who have come to this country, not just for freedom, but also for economic necessity, to escape famine or homes destroyed by violence, for the chance of basic survival.
In the earliest years of our history some came willingly – looking for land and resources, like the settlements in Virginia, or for the opportunity to build a society strictly along their understanding of Biblical principles, like the colonists in Massachusetts. And others came unwillingly, indentured servants, those translated from debtors’ prison, African slaves.
Truth to tell, all of us (unless we are one hundred percent Native American) have families that came from somewhere else - whether that was four hundred years ago or four months ago; we all have benefitted from the welcome and the opportunity to try our hand at what Abraham Lincoln called ‘a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’”
~ from my sermon July 6, 2014