Worship Resources


This page has resources on immigration for worship settings. All materials on this page come from the Acts of Faith collection of worship resources by the North Carolina Council of Churches.  In addition, many of the sources in Faith-Based Links also have worship materials.  Please contact us if there is additional content we should add to this page.

Click here to download a Toolkit for Immigrant Sabbath, by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

Responsive Readings
Prayers
Scriptures 

Responsive Readings

WE GATHER TODAY

We gather today to lift up immigrants who live and work in our community. We give thanks for the many gifts and talents they bring to our nation.

We give thanks and pray for all living in our community, but especially those who are immigrants among us.

There are over 32 million immigrants in the U.S. living and working in cities, suburbs and rural areas across the nation.

One in eight workers today is foreign born.

Except for Native Americans, we were all once new to this country.

Some of us came to the U.S. escaping poverty or oppression.  Others of us were forced here on slave ships. Still others came seeking opportunity.

New immigrants come for many of the same reasons. Most immigrants come escaping poverty and oppression and seeking opportunities. Leviticus 19, verses 33 and 34 tell us:

“Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

We serve a God who wants justice for all of God’s people.

God desires justice for native born and foreign born alike. All people are children of God.  Amen.

(from Interfaith Worker Justice)


REMEMBER THE IMMIGRANT

We serve a God who directs us to care especially for those most vulnerable in society. Our Scriptures tell us of God’s special concern for the “alien” or the “stranger,” or as more contemporary translations say—the immigrant.

For the Lord our God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. God defends the cause of the orphan and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving the immigrant food and clothing. And we are to love those who are immigrants, for God’s people were immigrants in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

We ask God to open our eyes to the struggles of immigrant workers, for we know that:

We must not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether the worker is a resident or immigrant living in our town. We must pay the worker the wages promptly because the worker is poor and counting on it. (Deuteronomy 24:14)

God’s desire is that those who build houses may live in them,

And that those who plant may eat. 

And yet we know this is not possible for many in our midst.

We know of farmworkers who cannot feed their families, construction workers who have no homes, nursing home workers who have no health care, restaurant workers who can not afford a meal in the restaurant.

We know that too many immigrant workers among us are not receiving the fruits of their labor, nor the justice required by the courts.

God charges our judges to hear disputes and judge fairly, whether the case involves citizens or immigrants.  (Deuteronomy 1:16)

But our laws do not adequately protect immigrants. Our legal and social service programs exclude many immigrants. Our education programs undervalue immigrant children.

God tells us that the community is to have the same rules for citizens and for immigrants living among us.  His is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. Citizens and immigrants shall be the same before the Lord.  (Numbers 15:15)

When an immigrant lives in our land,

We will not mistreat him or her. We will treat an immigrant as one of our native born. We will love an immigrant as ourselves, for God’s people were once immigrants in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

To those who employ immigrant workers, we lift up God’s command:

Do not oppress an immigrant. God’s people know how it feels to be immigrants because they were immigrants in Egypt.  (Exodus 23: 9)

And a special word to those who employ immigrant farmworkers:

Make sure immigrants get a day of rest. (Exodus 23:12)

To those who craft our immigration laws and policies, we lift up God’s command:

Do not deprive the immigrant or the orphan of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that God’s people were slaves in Egypt and the Lord our God redeemed them from there.  (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)

To all of us who seek to do God’s will, help us to:

Love one another as God has loved us. Help us to treat immigrants with the justice and compassion that God shows to each of us.  Amen.

(from Interfaith Worker Justice)


 GOD, HELP US

As we come together in prayer, let us remember the word of God, who instructs us to “love the stranger who dwells among you for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).

God, help us welcome those who have come to dwell among us.

For all those who have come fleeing oppression and persecution — black, white, brown and yellow:

God, help us welcome those who have come to dwell among us.

For those who have come fleeing hardship and hunger:

God, help us welcome those who have come to dwell among us.

For those who have come to join loved ones already here:

God, help us welcome those who have come to dwell among us.

For those who have come seeking freedom and opportunity:

God, help us welcome those who have come to dwell among us.

Let us remember the words of Christ, who said “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25: 33).

When, Lord, were you a stranger that we welcomed among us?

“Truly, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

When we welcomed the stranger, we welcomed you, Christ Jesus, in our midst!

Loving God, you call us to create hospitable communities. Help us to overcome any fear and anxiety we may have of those who come from other lands to live among us. Give us the courage and wisdom to create compassionate and just immigration policies. Grant that we may all live together in peace and love. Amen.

(from Interfaith Worker Justice)

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Prayers

FOR THE WORLD AND ITS FREE PEOPLES

O God, you are the hope of all the ends of the earth, the God of the spirits of all flesh. Hear our humble intercession for all races and families on earth, that you will turn all hearts to yourself. Remove from our minds hatred, prejudice, and contempt for those who are not of our own race or color, class or creed, that departing from everything that estranges and divides, we may by you be brought into unity of spirit, in the bond of peace. Amen.

(United Methodist Book of Worship, p. 524) 


 A PRAYER FOR NEIGHBOR

We thank you, God, for coming to us as a neighbor, a stranger, an immigrant, binding our wounds and carrying us to safety, so that we might love you with all our heart, soul, and mind, and welcome the stranger, loving our neighbor as ourselves.

(Adapted from “Short Preface,” www.laughingbird.net/LectionTexts/CP10.html)

 


 A PRAYER FOR IMMIGRANTS

Our God, you have given us in your word the stories of persons who needed to leave their homelands— Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Moses. Help us to remember that when we speak of immigrants and refugees, we speak of Christ. In the One who had no place to lay his head, and in the least of his brothers and sisters, you come to us again, a stranger seeking refuge. We confess that we often turn away. You have chosen that the life of Jesus be filled with events of unplanned travel and flight from enemies. You have shown us through the modeling of Jesus how we are called to relate to persons from different nations and cultures. You have called us to be teachers of your word. We ask you, our God, to open our minds and hearts to the challenge and invitation to model your perfect example of love. Amen.

(adapted from Justice for Immigrants, “Prayer and Liturgy Suggestions,” www.justiceforimmigrants.org/ParishKit/LiturgyPrayerSuggestions.pdf)

 


 PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Tender and Fierce God, whose work is justice and whose delight is mercy, forgive us for ignoring the cries of workers who labor under the tyranny of harassment, violence and poverty. Free us from greed that comforts our bodies and eats away at our souls. Free us for a life of joyful resistance to evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves; through Jesus Christ our only Lord. Amen.

(from the United Methodist Church Labor Day Message, accessible at www.nicwj.org/materials/materials_binserts.html)

 


 BLESS THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH

Bless the hands of the people of the earth,
The hands that plant the seed,
The hands that bind the harvest,
The hands that carry the burden of life.
Soften the hands of the oppressor and
Strengthen the hands of the oppressed.
Bless the hands of the workers,
Bless the hands of those in power above them
That the measure they deal will be tempered
With justice and compassion.
Amen.

(from National Farm Worker Ministry)

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Scriptures

The Bible contains many commands and instructions for how to treat immigrants and workers.  The word for “immigrant” in the Bible is often translated as “alien” or “stranger.”  Texts below are from the New Revised Standard Version.

There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.
Exodus 12:49

But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work — you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
Exodus 20:10

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:34

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 23:22

You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 24:22

I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.
Deuteronomy 1:16

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:19

You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land.
Deuteronomy 23:7

You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.
Deuteronomy 24:17

When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all your undertakings.
Deuteronomy 24:19

“Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!”
Deuteronomy 27:19

I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger.
Job 29:16

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not hold your peace at my tears. For I am your passing guest, an alien, like all my forebears.
Psalm 39:12

They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan.
Psalm 94:6

The field of the poor may yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.
Proverbs 13:23

Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.
Jeremiah 22:3

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress.
Ezekiel 22:29

Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
Zechariah 7:10

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against . . . those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:5

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Romans 12:13

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
James 5:4

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