Praying about immigration in Germany

A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual response to the Monitor’s View ‘Germany’s humane rush to integrate refugees.’

In a new plan to integrate immigrants into Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has lost some of her heretofore popular support. According to the recent Monitor commentary, “Germany’s humane rush to integrate refugees,” Ms. Merkel said, “It is important for us not to let ourselves be divided.” She says the plan is an attempt to find “cohesion.” Under the new legislation, asylum seekers will face cuts to support if they don’t take language classes or lessons in German culture and laws.

When I lived with a host family and went to school in Germany as a senior in college, the talk around the dinner table often turned to the integration of East Germans. It was still a rocky road after the tearing down of the wall just three years prior in 1989. The euphoria of the wall coming down was rapidly replaced by the consternation of Germans in the democratized and modernized West who often didn’t see many parallels with their close neighbors. Instead they felt the financial burden as cities were reconstructed from postwar decrepitude and people were assimilated into a culture that felt oddly unfamiliar after 40 years of separation.

Germany’s own people might as well have been immigrants.

Since then I’ve visited Germany many times to stay with my husband’s family in Berlin, where the city has been transformed and the conversation has long since shifted to the new face of today’s immigrants.

While there are practical and important political and social ramifications to consider with immigration policies, there are ways common citizens can offer their aid. Wherever I am, I know I can help through prayer. Prayer reveals inspiring ideas and solutions to break down walls that even political posturing can only scratch the surface of.

My study of Christian Science has taught me to always begin by reasoning through a challenge with what I know about God. Rather than focusing on the problem or flawed individuals, which can fuel anger or frustration, I’ve found that keeping my thought focused on our God-given spiritual nature reveals practical and inspired solutions to issues. Such inspirations are revealed to us through spiritual sense – which provides clarity and sound judgment – in contrast to a finite, material sense of things. Christian Science Founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Finite sense has no true appreciation of infinite Principle, God, or of His infinite image or reflection, man” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 300).

An appreciation of God, as divine Principle, helps us understand that we are truly governed by God, good. If God, who is Spirit, made each one of us in His image and likeness, how can we be defined by our physical appearance or the specific place we reside on our planet? If this one divine Mind defines our nature, then we cannot truly be described by the language we speak or the color of our hair and skin. We’re defined by the spiritual qualities we all reflect.

The Apostle Paul glimpsed something of this when he wrote to the early Christians of Galatia, thought to be of ethnic origin themselves: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The Christ is that which is “leading into all truth” (Science and Health, p. 332).

As we each pray to listen to the inspired ideas of truth that come to us in prayer, we are inviting the healing Christ into our experience, which removes barriers and elevates our view of ourselves and others.

While it might seem implausible to unite citizens over their country’s legislation, Christ Jesus’ teachings explain how an understanding of God’s law brings deep and lasting peace and unity. Jesus taught a new version of the Judaic law to love one’s neighbor as oneself. He counseled that even to think angry thoughts about your neighbor was a violation of that law. Paul reminded the early Christians of this when he said, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

We can each do our part in following this counsel as we pray about the issue of immigration that is as much an issue in Germany as it is in other parts of the globe. Our goal can be to embrace a prayerful perspective that seeks to underscore a wise and loving path forward with our neighbors.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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