BenLast week I went to a concert by Peter (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) in a tiny café on the top floor of a building in Bethlehem, Palestine. The evening read like a Bible story mash-up. Peter. The upper room. Twelve guests. Pita and wine. Songs of peace. However, the most surreal moment of the evening was Peter’s performance of Some Walls. I had never heard the song before the performance but the lesser known chorus captures the theme of my year abroad. If there’s any hope for love at all, some walls must fall.

Two months ago, the board of the General Commission on Religion and Race for The United Methodist Church, which I joined last summer, met in San Diego and Tijuana. As part of our quarterly board meeting, we spent a day experiencing the border and discussing immigration with fronterizos or ‘borderlanders.’ Fronterizos are people that live so close to the border that they identify with both communities. They live and breathe questions of immigration. Whereas most of us rarely think about the border, they live in the shadow of the wall. Fronterizos straddle the line of ‘us’ and ‘them.’

Some fronterizos were not there by choice. We met deported mothers in Tijuana whose teenage children remain in the U.S. alone, and deported U.S. veterans who had served in Afghanistan but were later deported after being arrested in the U.S. for minor crimes. Other fronterizos live along the border because they are called to that community. We met pastors in San Diego who embrace newly arrived refugees and immigrants, and others who support immigrants who lost everything trying to cross the border. Whether by circumstance or choice, fronterizos know the pain that comes from division and live in the gaps that divide us.

signPalestine, where I’m currently volunteering, is in a similar situation. A wall like the U.S./Mexico border separates Israel from the Palestinian territories. Palestinians, if they have permission, must travel through checkpoints to get into Jerusalem. Those without their ‘papers’ must travel in circuitous routes to get from one village to the next simply because they do not have access to the highways that cut through their community. Pop-up checkpoints occur often, and Palestinians are subject to interrogation even when driving along the streets they drive or walk every morning. In both Palestine and Tijuana, ‘the wall’ is covered with graffiti on the side facing them. Signs of peace are interspersed with messages of protest. Bright colors are used to mask the intimidation and pain of the wall they must face every day. On the opposite side of the wall—the side facing Israel and the U.S., respectively—the wall is either far removed from any habitable area or made to look like a sound barrier wall one might see on the interstate. As with all things, there are two sides of the wall and two sides of the story. Fronterizos know both sides because they aren’t afraid to get close.

On Palm Sunday, I joined 10,000 other Christians from around the world and walked the path from Bethphage, down the Mount of Olives, and into Jerusalem. The trail was one of another borderlander. Jesus lived along the political and cultural borders of his time, whether that border was a home in Capernaum, Jacob’s well, a tree in Jericho, or the pool of Bethesda. He knew the other side of the divide because he got close. He sought to be with ‘the other.’ Palm Sunday reminds us of Jesus’ amazing ministry of reconciliation on the borders, but Holy Week also reminds us of how risky being a fronterizo can be. After all, on Palm Sunday we celebrated Jesus for being a fronterizo; on Friday, we kill him for it.

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Listening to the stories of Mexicans and Palestinians living with the wall is emotionally draining. Hope seems lost, lives seem pointless, and defeat seems imminent. It often feels like Good Friday. But in those moments, I recall the closing moments of our worship service on the U.S./Mexico border. As we closed in prayer, board members placed their hands on the wall and looked upward. Above us was the juxtaposition of a bright blue sky over the rust of the man-made wall. Freedom over barriers. Reconciliation over division. Life over death. Easter Sunday over Good Friday.

As we approach Easter, my prayer is that we might recognize our call as Christians to be fronterizos—to live as Christ lived along the borders and walls of our society, listening to and walking alongside those who are marginalized, forgotten, or trampled. Being a fronterizo means getting close, and getting close means taking a risk. May we have courage to be fronterizos in the joy of Palm Sunday and the danger and sorrow of Good Friday. And just as Christ shattered all walls on Easter morning, may we become an Easter people, shattering the figurative and literal walls around us.

If there’s any hope for love at all, some walls must fall.

Happy Easter!