Liturgy for Immigration and Detention “You Shall Love the Stranger”

by the National Benevolent Association Prison & Jail Ministries Peer Group for #DOCJustSummer


Opening Prayer

God of the citizen, God of the stranger,
you love each person,
and you are constantly at work to provide for all. You call us to peace and to oneness.
We ask your wisdom and direction,
that we may know our place
in showing forth your justice to all the world.
As we spend this time together,
stir our hearts and minds according to your will. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Opening Question

What words or phrases come to mind when you hear the term “immigration?”

Prayer of Confession

by Emma Maney, Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program, Presbyterian Church (USA)

O God, so often we close our hearts off to our fellow siblings. When our country and policies harm your people, we turn away. Our hearts harden and we are not following your call.

We ignore your calls for mercy for our neighbors who are fleeing from violence.

Creator, you hear the voices of your children crying out. You hear your people amidst the separation of families.

Give us the strength to speak out against injustices. Just because something is normal, does not make it right.

God of everyone, protect those in need of safety, love, and compassion. May your presence wrap around those who are grieving the loss of family, memories, and of home.

May we welcome all people with love and safety. Stir us to love the way Jesus shows us.

Loving God, we ask for peace for all your children so that no one lives in a place of unrest. May those who have left their homes be granted comfort, protection and welcome. Instill with us a want to break down the walls in our hearts that divide us from our siblings.


Call to Worship

Leader: We gather from East and West, from North and South.
People: Cruzando fronteras, encontramos a Dios. (Crossing borders, we encounter God.)
Leader:  We gather young and old, men and women, with documents and without documents.
People: Cruzando fronteras, encontramos a Dios. (Crossing borders, we encounter God.)
Leader:  We gather to worship the God of all nations and peoples.
People: Cruzando fronteras, encontramos a Dios (Crossing borders, we encounter God.)
Leader: We gather to praise the One whose love knows no borders, we gather to be strengthened as we work for justice and peace.
People: Estamos cruzando fronteras, encontrando a Dios. (We are crossing borders, encountering God.)
Leader:  We gather with the faith and the hope that one day the desert will once again bloom with life that one day the love we carry in our hearts will matter more than the documents we carry in our hands and that one day the walls will come tumbling down.
All: And all God’s people shall live together in peace!

Prayer or Litany for the Immigrant People

Adapted by Rev. Héctor J. Hernández, NBA Connect Coordinator

God of grace and justice; God of our biblical ancestors who were strangers and pilgrims in their own land; God of the ones who are strangers and pilgrims in this land that is far from where we call home, we ask you God to hear prayers.

Dios de gracia y de justicia,  hear our prayer.

You are the God who crossed every border between the heavens and the earth sending us Jesus, the immigrant of excellence. The one whose parents fled to Egypt to find a better and more secure place for him to grow up. To you God is to whom we pray that all of those who perhaps last night, or tonight or even right now may be crossing the border pursuing a better and more secure life for them and their families, may arrive safe and sound to this land.

Dios de gracia y de justicia,  hear our prayer.

Throughout history, you O, God have been working in the hearts of all people making us understand that we all are part of the human family regardless of the documents we hold, the color of our skin, the language we speak or the customs of our cultures. We ask you God that we may be courageous enough to embrace your mission of being one with you and with one another; to love you and the other.

Dios de gracia y de justicia,  hear our prayer.

There is a lot of suffering out there in Latin America and the whole world, but there may be suffering in this room too. All of us have come to this place to worship you but have carrying our worries and anxieties; some may have even come in despair or hurt. But help us to be reminded that we all are important to you and we need each other in this journey called life, in which we all are pilgrims and strangers.

Dios de gracia y de justicia,  hear our prayer.

Cánticos De Adoración / Songs Of Praise

Cantemos Al Señor by Carlos Rosas

Cantemos al Señor un himno de alegría,
un cántico de amor al nacer el nuevo día.
El hizo el cielo, el mar, el sol y las estrellas,
y en ellos vio bondad, pues sus obras eran bellas.
¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! Cantemos al Señor. ¡Aleluya!
Cantemos al Señor un himno de alabanza
que exprese nuestro amor, nuestra fe, nuestra esperanza. En toda la creación abunda su grandeza; así nuestro cantar va anunciando su belleza.
¡Aleluya! ¡Aleluya! Cantemos al Señor. ¡Aleluya!

Performance by Rev. Bere Gil Soto, Iglesia Hermandad Cristiana

Let us sing to the Lord a hymn of glad rejoicing,
A song of love at the birth of the new day.
He made the sky, the sea, the sun, and the stars,
And he saw goodness in them, as they were beautiful.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Let’s sing to the Lord. Hallelujah!
Let us sing to the Lord a hymn of praise,
That expresses our love, our faith, our hope.
In all creation abounds his greatness,
So our singing is announcing its beauty.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Let’s sing to the Lord. Hallelujah!

Performance by Rev. Bere Gil Soto, Iglesia Hermandad Cristiana

Miqueas 6:8 by Maranatha!

Me ha mostrado (me ha mostrado)
El Señor (el Señor)
Lo que es bueno y lo que pide él de mi.
Hacer justicia (hacer justicia), Misericordia (misericordia), Y ser humilde ante él.

Micah 6:8 by Maranatha!

He has shown me (he has shown me) The Lord (the Lord)
What is good and what he asks of me.
Do justice (do justice) Mercy (mercy)
And be humble before him.

Momento Nuevo – Santo, Santo, Santo ‎#602

Dios hoy nos llama a un momento nuevo, a caminar junto con su pueblo,
es hora de transformar lo que no da más, y solo y aislado, ninguno es capaz.
//Por eso ¡ven! Entra a la rueda con todos, también, Tu eres muy importante,// Ven.
Ya no es posible creer que todo es fácil, hay muchas fuerzas que producen muerte, nos dan dolor, tristeza y desolación,
es necesario afianzar nuestra unión.

In this New Moment – Holy, Holy Holy, #602

God calls us today to a new moment,
to walk together with his people,
it is time to transform what does not give, and alone and isolated none is capable.
//That is why, come! Enter the circle with everyone, Also, you are very important.// Come.
It is no longer possible to believe all is easy, there are many forces that cause death, give us pain, sadness and isolation,
It is necessary to strengthen our union.


For One Who Suffers by Howard Thurman, Chalice Hymnal #508

I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain
I can but offer what my love does give –
The strength of caring
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
This I do in quiet ways –
That on your lonely path you may not walk alone.


The Arredondo Family (Guatemala)

“Esvin Fernando Arredondo … was separated from one of his daughters, Andrea Arredondo — then 12 years old and now 13, after they turned themselves in on May 16, 2018, at a Texas crossing and sought asylum legally, according to his lawyer. Sabraw found that Arredondo had been deported after his order to the U.S. government not to remove any more parents separated from his children. [His wife and their two daughters] passed the initial screening interview for asylum, unlike [Esvin], even though they were fleeing for the same reason. Their son Marco, 17, was shot and killed by suspected gang members in Guatemala City.” (“9 parents separated from families return to children in US,” AP, January 23, 2020)

Maribel (Honduras)

“Maribel — a Garifuna woman from Honduras and mother of six children, ages 6 months to 16 years — only wanted to work. She baked coconut bread and sold it the streets of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, until a gang started demanding a cut — roughly 20 percent of her earnings. After threats and violence and futile attempts at negotiating with the gang, she fell behind in her payments. Gangsters eventually showed up at her daughter’s school to send a message of intimidation, forcing Maribel and her family to flee the country.” (“‘They put a gun to my head,’ says Honduran mother of six,” Catholic News Service, July 3, 2019)

Bible Texts

Salmos 23 – La Biblia de las Américas (LBLA)

1 El Señor es mi pastor,
nada me faltará[a].
2 En lugares de verdes pastos me hace descansar;
junto a aguas de reposo me conduce.
3 Él restaura[b] mi alma;
me guía por senderos de justicia[c]
por amor de su nombre.
4 Aunque pase por el valle de sombra de muerte[d],
no temeré mal[e] alguno, porque tú estás conmigo;
tu vara y tu cayado me infunden aliento[f].
5 Tú preparas mesa delante de mí en presencia de mis enemigos;
has ungido[g] mi cabeza con aceite;
mi copa está rebosando.
6 Ciertamente[h] el bien y la misericordia me seguirán todos los días de mi vida,
y en la casa del Señor moraré[i] por largos días.

Psalm 23 – New International Version (NIV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, [a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Deuteronomio 10:17-22 – La Biblia de las Américas (LBLA)

17 Porque el Señor vuestro Dios es Dios de dioses y Señor de señores, Dios grande, poderoso y temible que no hace acepción de personas ni acepta soborno. 18 Él hace justicia al huérfano y a la viuda, y muestra su amor al extranjero dándole pan y vestido. 19 Mostrad, pues, amor al extranjero, porque vosotros fuisteis extranjeros en la tierra de Egipto. 20 Temerás al Señor tu Dios; le servirás, te allegarás a Él y solo en su nombre jurarás. 21 Él es el objeto de tu alabanza y Él es tu Dios, que ha hecho por ti estas cosas grandes y portentosas que tus ojos han visto. 22Cuando tus padres descendieron a Egipto eran setenta personas, y ahora el Señor tu Dios te ha hecho tan numeroso como las estrellas del cielo.

Deuteronomy 10:17-22 – New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. 22 Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.


What do you know of the refugee/immigrant experience from this passage?
What feelings / thoughts / desires does this passage evoke in you?
What do you know of God from this passage?


By Rev. Héctor J. Hernández, NBA Connect Coordinator

In a day like today let’s never forget that Jesus’s “Mandatum” of Love, it is centered on doing Justice, into fighting for justice, into embracing Justice. And that today more than ever what our God requires from us is to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God himself.