Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Citzenship of the Saints

I've been thinking a lot about identity this week.  I became a naturalized US citizen this week. This was after a wait of almost a year and a half after I first made my application.  The wheels of bureaucracy turn extremely slowing in this administration. So while this has been a day I've been anticipating for a long time, it's always been with deep ambivalence.  Unlike so many people who come to this country, while this was a choice for the sake of marriage and a job, it was also not something I had ever sought or dreamed of or aspired to.

As much as I have loved Seattle, I have also prided myself a little on my identity as an outsider, and particularly as a Canadian outsider.  Especially in these days when progressive Americans are crashing the Canadian immigration website with their interest in leaving the country, I think I've even felt a little smug.  So to add "American" to my identity has felt not so much like an addition but somehow like it's canceling out both my other identity and my identity as "other".

And that's a problem.  Not that I feel like American-ness is canceling out my identity as Canadian, but that I've been as tied up as I have been in my identity as citizen of any nation over what should be my primary identity as a disciple of Jesus.  If I am a citizen of anywhere it is of the Reign of God.

As I prepare my message for All Saints Day and think about the beloved saints who have shown me the way, I don't think about good citizens, I think of good disciples.  Sometimes they are one in the same, but sometimes, good disciples are troublemakers and rabble-rousers.  Sometimes good disciples don't follow the laws of the land (as I had to promise in my citizenship ceremony) but protest laws that are unjust.  Sometimes good disciples are noisy and nosey and get in the way of governance for the sake of peace.  Jesus was not a good citizen. And when I think about my own kids and the little ones whom we will dedicate in the way of Jesus on Sunday, I hope that they will be better disciples than they are citizens too.

At this time of year All Saints and Veteran's Day (Remembrance Day in Canada) converge to make me turn to the people who I remember as witnesses for peace.  (I've written about that before here and here). I hope that as I continue to figure out what it means to live as a citizen of two countries, I'll keep remembering the people and identity that root me in my identity not in nation but as God's beloved child.
me and my freshly minted citizenship certificate

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