This week we had another meeting of our Steering Team for Syrian Relief. There is a lot to prepare for and many have come forward to join in this parish project. There are many practical details from accommodation to clothing to kitchen supplies, to finances and more. But perhaps most important of all is how are we going to greet them and be with them as a welcoming community? How can we offer them a place that is “HOME”?
John the Baptist’s words in the Gospel of this 2nd Sunday of Advent might appropriately apply to what we are hoping to do. John uses the words of the prophet Isaiah and proclaims: Prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 3:4-6) He presents the images of what is almost a construction site – filling valleys, lowering mountain, straightening and smoothing roads. All of this work is to make ready for God’s great coming among us.
The Advent-Christmas season is all about this coming and the celebration of the wondrous way in which it has taken place in Jesus the Christ. Our English translation of the Gospel of John describes this coming as the Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14) A better and more direct translation would be [God] pitched His tent among us. In other words, in Jesus God has come to live with us, to make a home with us.
The whole message and mission of Jesus the Christ is a call to build that home of God among where we are, in our time and place. Scripture refers to it as the Kingdom of God. Jesus announced that it is among us. He called disciples to make it real in our world. Our world in God’s dream, expressed in the message of Jesus, is to be where God is, God’s home. And what a home it is to be! A place of warmth and love, justice and peace, mercy and love, compassion and openness....for all.
Recent news items indicated that when UN officials approached some Syrian refugees in refugee camps and offered them the possibility of emigrating to Canada, only 6.5% accepted the invitation. It was too far to Canada. They wanted to stay closer to HOME. This makes all the sense in the world. Hard as it may be, home is where we all want to be.
As we work to prepare for the family that will come into our midst, we want to offer them a place that is truly HOME for them. Theirs is a journey that has been hard and often painful. But our preparations are aiming at easing the way for them. Our dream and hope is that they discover a HOME among us where we live together in warmth and love, justice and peace, mercy and love, compassion and openness. With all our differences in culture and customs, faith and life may we see God’s dream growing among us.
This coming week, on Thursday, December 10, 7:00pm we are invite everyone to join us in a general parish meeting. It will be a time to update everyone on where we are in our relief project and present an opportunity to all community members to be involved in some way. Why not join us for this occasion?