Today, President Obama crossed the 49th parallel for his first official foreign visit…to Canada.
News reports, media conversation, and general talk around the water cooler here in Canada is all very hopeful that things get off to a smooth start between Obama and Harper, that the conversation will be amicable and positive and that these two men and their respective administrations will be able to work together to our countries’ mutual benefit on issues like the economy and security.
I wonder if President Obama had problems crossing the border?
I remember just a few years ago how much easier it used to be crossing the border. Now, we all sluff along through airport security gates without our shoes, belts, or coins in our pockets, holding onto our trousers while our bags are scanned for "threatening objects." Vehicles are more closely scrutinized and their license plates photographed, occupants are more intensively questioned by customs agents, passports and other documents are more closely examined. And its happening on both sides of the border.
That marvelous 3,000 mile long undefended border of ancient fame and boast has grown remote. It’s been replaced by something much thicker, less porous, taking much longer and being much harder to cross.
The other day I saw on the news that the first unmanned US drone has begun to fly along the US/Canada border. The promise is that there will soon be more of them overhead. I wonder when they’ll be equipped with weapons, in addition to the awesome array of sophisticated surveillance equipment?
While I can understand some of this, post-9/11, there is a certain irony to it for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest.
At the White Rock/Bellingham border crossing point there’s a park and in that park is a peace arch. It declares that the US and Canada are "Children of a Common Mother." While it says we’re family, it certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore. Last time I visited my brother, I don’t recall being interrogated, frisked or x-rayed–that’s just not the family thing to do … although it is polite to remove your shoes as you cross the threshold.
In this kind of a climate, where the walls are going up throughout the world, the spiritual witness of a peaceable borderlessness in the church can be quite powerful.
Paul instructed the Ephesians, many of whom were Gentiles by birth, that the costly work of Christ was all about their inclusion, citizenship, and enfranchisement to the blessings of God along with believing Jews. Jesus’ crucifixion, Paul declared,
"made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-18)
How penetrable is the threshold of your church to the newly-converted? Is it like the Canada/US border is becoming or is it more like the Christian community of Christ’s re-creation?