Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: MARCH 8, 1999
Taiwanese-American Scientist Ethnically Profiled and Arrested
On March 8th, 1999, Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese-American scientist who worked for the University of California at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was fired from his job, on charges that he had failed to maintain classified information in a secure manner. Later that year, he was charged on 59 counts of mishandling classified information, and the FBI attempted to implicate Lee in committing espionage for the People’s Republic of China. Additionally, news outlets citing anonymous sources leaked false information and headlines, tainting his reputation and portraying him suspiciously. Consequently, Lee was placed in solitary confinement, locked in handcuffs attached to a metal belt, shackled at the ankles, and granted exercise for only one hour a week. He was in prison for 278 days.
More than a year later, the government dropped all but one of 59 charges against him, and it was exposed that the FBI had provided false testimony about Dr. Lee to try to paint him as a Chinese spy. He was finally released after pleading guilty to one count of mishandling computer data. At his release hearing, the presiding judge in the case took the unprecedented step of apologizing to Dr. Lee for the “top decision makers in the Executive Branch…having embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it.“
Lee’s arrest and treatment exposed both historic and ongoing anti-Asian sentiment within the U.S., paralleling the historic representation of Asian immigrants as a type of “Yellow Peril.” Although Lee had been a U.S. citizen for more than 30 years, the fact that he was born in Taiwan made him vulnerable to perceptions that he was a threat to national security. This type of xenophobia is rooted in a historic fear and othering of the East, and the belief that Asians, no matter how long they have been in the United States, are not qualified to be seen as truly “American.”
Scriptural Reflection: Isaiah 56: 3-7
“Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
“I am only a dry tree.”
4 For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.”
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day8
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
Prayer of Response: A Prayer for Immigrants (2013)
Lover of all humankind,
you call to us to be caring and hospitable
toward strangers in our midst.
When brothers and sisters from other countries
flee the difficulties of their land,
help us to welcome them and to walk gently with them.
When students and visitors from far away
choose our land as their destination,
help us to respond in kindness to their interests and needs.
We pray especially for those living in fear;
those who risk deportation and imprisonment.
We pray for the undocumented immigrants in our country,
and we pray that the church may stand with those who are vulnerable.
We pray for wisdom and guidance for our legislators;
for those who govern and for those deciding how to improve our immigration system.
We pray that the need for dignity, respect, and better treatment of the strangers in our midst will outweigh insignificant politics.
May we care for all our neighbors as for ourselves,
that we may know the blessing of giving.
–The Worship Sourcebook 4.5.1, p. 220 (© 2013 Faith Alive Christian Resources)