OPENING PRAYER: A Prayer for Holy Wednesday (Revised Common Lectionary, 2002)
Christ our God,
your love is poured out in death for our sakes.
Hold us in your embrace
as we wait for Easter’s dawn.
Comfort us with the promise that no power on earth, not even death itself,
can separate us from your love;
and strengthen us to wait
until you are revealed to us
in all your risen glory. Amen.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: APRIL 12, 1882
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 introduced to the House of Representatives
On April 12, 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was first introduced to the House of Representatives, as H.R. 5804, by representative Horace F. Page from California. While significant Chinese immigration to North America began in the 1800s, with the California Gold Rush and labor projects such as the construction of a Transcontinental Railroad, a rise in anti-Chinese animosity developed after the Civil War, as many whites began to blame Chinese laborers for their economic struggles and depressed wages. Groups such as Denis Kearney’s Workingman’s Party, as well as an anti-Chinese group called the Supreme Order of Caucasians, emerged to push for exclusionary policies and laws. Such groups also held Chinese Exclusion conventions, in defense of “American labor”, and tried to change both local and national policies. Increased anti-Chinese sentiment even led to acts of violence such as the Chinese Massacre of 1871, in which an estimated 17-20 Chinese immigrants were tortured and hanged by a mob of 500 white men in Los Angeles Chinatown.
The Act itself was the first piece of U.S. legislation that banned entry of a specific ethnic working group, and established the premise that Chinese immigration endangered the “good order” of certain localities. When it was signed on May 6, 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act legally prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States. Though the Act was limited to “laborers,” it was difficult for Chinese immigrants to prove that they were not laborers, causing significant barriers to immigration for anybody of Chinese descent. Additionally, any Chinese who were already in the country were made permanent aliens, as they were excluded from U.S. citizenship. Many Chinese men also had little chance of reuniting with their wives or starting families, as those who left the U.S. could not return without a certification for re-entry.
While the Act was originally intended to last for only 10 years, it was later renewed with the Geary Act (in 1892) and extended again in 1902. These legal provisions were not repealed until the Magnuson Act was passed on December 17, 1943. Today, Chapter 7 of Title 8 of the United States Code remains titled “Exclusion of Chinese.” It is the only section of the United States Code that is completely focused on a specific nationality or ethnic group.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: ZECHARIAH 7:8-12
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.”
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 #day43
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: Sacred Family (C.H. Hwang, Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, 1966)
“O God, our Father, who hast sent Jesus and other prophets as a covenant with thy people to serve as a light to the nations, mercifully look upon the distractions and division of the world and stretch out thy healing hand to us and complete the work of thy salvation.
Revive and renew thy church everywhere with thy spirit, that it may show forth clearly thy gifts in all its life, and that by thy power it may participate in thy redeeming and reconciling efforts. May the Christian fellowship be used by thee to unite the world in a sacred brotherhood of nations wherein justice, mercy, faith, truth, love, and freedom may prevail and flourish, that thy precepts may be glorified unto the ends of the earth, through Jesus Christ who is our peace.”
-From With One Voice: Prayers from Around the World