I’m a fan of Longreads and look forward to their email on Fridays featuring a top 5 for the week, on important topics ranging from maternal mortality among Black women in the United States to the cost of insulin and whimsical subjects like the magic of a ramen restaurant in Tokyo. This week I am bringing you my top five from the RevGalBlogPals community, some of which are longer than the posts I might typically choose for the Friday Festival. If you take some time to click through and read them, I hope you will also leave comments for the authors.

1. Hannah Adair Bonner tells us what’s happening to asylum-seekers in Tucson and has some questions for the church at large:

They have risked their lives in the pursuit of this fragile, precious freedom they pursue. Every inch of it is priceless. Every inch of it was paid for in blood and sweat and tears. Every inch of it demands our respect, summons our acknowledgement, and compels our honoring. 

How many inches of it will we choose to compromise to satisfy our pride, to avoid the financial cost and physical toll of welcoming them, while still maintaining the control and the credit? 

Read the rest of Their Freedom Was Never Ours to Give Away. (And check out Big Event 2020: From Vision to Action, for which Hannah will be one our keynote speakers.)

2. Rosa Lindahl remembers her own experience of immigrating to the U.S., hoping to escape the violence in her homeland:

Even back then, as that young girl trying to find her way here, no matter how much I wanted it to be possible, there was only hope and no certainty. I figured out the best path for me involved getting highly educated in this country so I would have a skill of value that would allow me to apply to become a permanent resident, and perhaps one day, a citizen…

At each and every step of the way, the process was intended to be as intimidating and discouraging as possible.  Every time I left the US as a student, I had to have a form called an I-94 that allowed me to board a plane coming to the USA. But it was the immigration officer at the airport in Miami that had absolute and total discretion in deciding whether or not I could come back into the country. At any time, they could have refused entry, revoked my visa and sent me home on the next plane.  An officer could even have said I was forbidden from ever returning to the USA and I would have had no right of appeal.  

Read the whole story at her blog – To listen to God’s word.

3. This one’s shorter, but speaks to the same questions as the two above. Rosalind Hughes writes,

Some of us have talked about this before. I am not always nice about it. Sometimes, I pretend obtusely to misunderstand. “When do I go home? At about 5 o’clock,” I say (that’s a lie; it’s never 5 o’clock), forcing friendly faces to explain, “No, I meant when do you go back to Britain.”

I knew that. I do not say, but your assumption seems to be that I have no home here, only in the land I left behind. “We’re visiting family in July,” I offer.

There is no animosity in their question, which is why I feel almost guilty for playing with them. But when I have crossed oceans, taken oaths, paid plenty of taxes, and filled in a forest full of paperwork to make a home here, it is a little galling to be asked on a regular basis when I am leaving.

Read the rest of Go Back Home.

4. Deb Vaughn offers a good word about God’s will, one that applies beyond the context of the church she serves, which is soon to close.

I want to speak for a moment about those who lie and mislead in the Name of God. It is a terrifying thing for me personally to be a preacher and make bold statements about what God wants, or who God is. Far too many preachers and pastors have sold a “cookbook Christianity” that claims everything in our lives will be “in God’s perfect Will” if one does these 7 steps of Godliness (or whatever it’s titled.) (And that you can buy their book in the lobby after the service.) It’s one of the reasons that many people have left the Church and Christianity. A life of faith is not that simple. It is a life-long pursuit of knowing God more fully, more deeply, more passionately. It’s not a fill-in-the blank book. Sorry. If you were looking for that kind of answer… I will disappoint you.

Read the full message here: How Can I Know God’s Will?

5. April Yamasaki invites us to read a series on honor that she created for Asian American Women on Leadership.

When I was first called into pastoral ministry on an interim basis, one of the members of my congregation was already terminally ill with cancer. “Please don’t let him die while I’m here, Lord,” I remember praying. “I won’t know what to do.” I had never expected to be a pastor, had never gone to seminary, and knew I was ill-equipped for pastoral care.

Yet some months later, when his wife called to say that her husband had died peacefully at home, as I drove there to pray over his body and to be with her and the rest of the family, I suddenly realized that yes, God had prepared me to do this. 

Find the links to the full series at April’s blog.

Bonus: Be sure to check out Laura Stephens-Reed’s encouragement to Define Success For Yourself, Jan Edmiston’s take on socialism – My Name is Jan and I’m (Trying to Be) a Biblical Socialist (Because Jesus), and an example of Nikki Macdonald’s triumphant return to blogging, Soft closing loo seats for serial killers.

What are you reading this week? I invite you to share links in the comments.

Martha Spong is executive director of RevGalBlogPals and a clergy coach. She is co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), with Rachel Hackenberg, and editor of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, a collection of essays by members of the RevGalBlogPals community.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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