Advent is still officially a few weeks away. But I often think that, here, we are in a state of perpetual advent. A state of waiting. A state of hoping. A state of watching for signs of the in breaking of God’s vision for the world.
As I walked through the gates of this little church where I have the honor and privilege of serving as pastor, there were already a number of people waiting. Waiting for appointments. Waiting to speak with someone. Waiting to see what today will bring.
This is not unusual. In fact, it is the norm. We work primarily with refugees. And for refugees, waiting is a constant state. Waiting for appointments. Waiting for news. Waiting…and hoping…that something might change, something that will give them a break from the constant state of waiting. They are waiting for a chance to begin a new life in a new place, a chance for a new opportunity, a chance to enroll children in education, or have access to desperately needed medical treatment. They are waiting to share their stories. They are waiting for their voices to be heard.
This state of waiting is especially heightened for me today, as I wait to see what will happen as, across America, people vote. I am waiting to see what happens as this long and vicious election cycle finally comes to an end. I am waiting to see what happens tomorrow when a lot of people are angry and upset that their candidate did not win. I am waiting to see what happens the next day and the day after that as we figure out just what it means for us to be citizens of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I am waiting for a whole number of reasons, but one of the big ones, for me these days, is to find out what will happen for the people with whom I work who look to my country as a place of refuge. People who have waited for a long time to have the chance to start again in America. People who, by the time they arrive, will have waited for 18-24 months from the time they heard that their interview process would begin. Almost all of them have waited years to even get to that interview point. People who have waited for countless interviews, who have told their stories multiple times. Their stories have been checked against their family members’. They have been vetted, questioned, interviewed, checked, re-checked, vetted again, interviewed again. It is a long, drawn out, painful, often disappointing process. Do not believe for a second that “they” are just “let in.” That is plain and simply not the way resettlement works. If you have questions about the resettlement process, please let me know and I would be happy to talk more about them with you.
I am waiting to find out if my country will still be a place where refugees can look to with hope, or it will be, yet another, disappointment. Yet another place where the walls are built up (physically and metaphorically) and they are told they are unwanted, unwelcome.
I find myself turning to Ephesians 2 this morning:
“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”
There is so much that divides us. And we are never better divided. We are always better united. We are always stronger when we work, together, for justice, for mercy, for grace, and for love. We are always better when we look at each other and see, not a stranger or an enemy, but another child of God, also created in God’s image, also known and loved.
Please vote. The results of this election matter. Not just for you and your family, but for families across America and around the world.
Please, pray. And love. Love, love, love.