Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Statue of Liberty

Not like the vaulted cathedrals,
Not like the pews with names and reservations,

Not like the hair-sprayed televangelists,

Not like the nice churches who say nice things to nice people,

Here at our doors shall stand a sign: All are welcome!

Open hearts, aflame with the burning love of God,

Open, open, open, to all who come.

Keep, o normal churches,

your nice people,
your beautiful people,
your people who have their crap together and put on pretty faces.

Give us your freaks and your punks,
your hippies and granolas,
Goths and your bikers.
Give us your homeless and your unemployed,
your job-hoppers and bed-hoppers,
your addicts and your hard drinkers.

Give us your hookers and your strippers,

your gamblers and smokers,

your dippers and your chewers.

Give us your church-haters and your liberals,

your atheists and agnostics,

your fundamentalists and your prudes.

Give us your gays and your lesbians,

your transvestites and transsexuals,

your offenders and your victims.

Give us your polluters and your tree-huggers,

your executives and lawyers,

your tax-evaders and your tax-collectors.

Give us your doubters and your name-it-and-claim-its,

your hypocrites and holier-than-thous,

your skeptics and your relativists.

Give us your seekers and your strugglers,

your lovers and haters,

your saints and your sinners.

Send us all of these, for they are like us.

We lift high the cross of Christ,
Brother of exiles, Friend of sinners.
His nail-pierced hands shout world-wide welcome

For all who long to breathe free,

For all who long to find home,

For all who didn't measure up,
For all who need a new start,
For all who want a new world.

We lift high the cross of Christ,

So that we will all be transformed together.

April 15, 2009 (author's copyright by Josh Broward)


This poem was obviously based on Emma Lazarus's famous poem, “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on the interior of the Statue of Liberty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


My poem should not be interpreted to mean that all of the actions implied in the "send us" section are OK and morally acceptable. Rather, the interpretation should be that all of us are welcome in our brokenness to gather around the cross of Christ (the Statue of Liberty) where we will all be made free, healed, loved, and transformed. A community that welcomes like this is a means of God's healing grace for everyone concerned.

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