The New Colossus for the 4th of July

This Fourth of July, I want to highlight the poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. It was written in 1883 and can be found at the base 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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” [1]

The phrase “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-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” is one of the best parts of our national canon and a very Christian one. Over and over again, the Bible tells us that we are to welcome the stranger and treat the alien among us as a neighbor.

If you want some examples of what the Bible says about welcoming huddled masses, here are a few highlighted in The United Methodist Book of Resolutions: Leviticus 19:33-34; Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:19; 24:18-22; Matthew 2:13-18 (in which the child Jesus himself is the one seeking asylum); and perhaps most importantly Matthew 25:31-46 (in which the nations of the world are judged).


[1] “The New Colossus,” National Parks Service (U.S. Department of the Interior), accessed July 4, 2019, https://bit.ly/2c1YAmH.