Wetbacks: Following El Buen Coyote

Image by Manfred Werner. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
Image by Manfred Werner. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Reading Jesus as a coyote who brings us into God’s reign against the law at no charge, or presenting baptism as making us all equally “wetback” strangers and aliens, are understandings coming directly out of years of working with undocumented immigrants struggling with the constant reality of possible deportation…

Reading Paul with undocumented immigrants, inmates, and “criminal aliens” cam clearly bring new life to worn-out texts.  Reading these Scripture passages in a way that holds onto the radical grace that infuses them requires faith and risk.  Though I am fully aware of other texts that emphasize the importance of being subject to governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7) and of walking by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26), I do not believe that people always need to be presented with the “whole picture.”  Most people on society’s margins assume the Scriptures are only about lists of dos and don’ts and calls to compliance.  Reading with people whose social standing, family of origin, addictions, criminal history, and other factors make compliance with civil laws or scriptural teachings impossible requires a deliberate reading for and acting by grace.  The good news alone must be seized by faith as having the power to save, heal, deliver, and liberate.  This good news is no one other than Jesus Christ himself, who meets us through the words of Scripture and the sacraments, and through the flesh of his family of buen coyote followers.

Rev. Dr. Bob Ekblad, Reading the Bible With the Damned, p. 179-180, 195-196


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