Advent means “arrival,” the season we await the coming of Jesus Christ into our midst. Bernard of Clairvaux, the twelfth century abbot and theologian, wrote that there are three Advents: there’s Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the coming of Jesus at the end of the age, and the “middle” Advent, or the everyday arrival of Jesus in our lives. It’s in this “middle” Advent that Jesus Christ arrives before us as the hungry mother, the houseless child, and the weary refugee. Jesus comes to us again and again, inviting us to prepare the way for his arrival through opening our hearts to recognize him in our everyday lives. His arrival calls us to work toward dismantling and repairing systems that promote exclusion and harm rather than welcome and belonging.
In a season where people of faith are called to prepare welcome, our government is focused on exclusion and expulsions. The Biden Administration is considering a number of proposals that continue to restrict access to asylum at the U.S./Mexico border while Senators Sinema and Tillis propose trading the well-being of one group of immigrants for the rights of others.
As people of faith, we are called to prepare welcome for those seeking asylum just as we’re called to prepare the way for Christ. By standing alongside those seeking welcome, we are accepting the invitation to recognize the presence of Jesus in our midst and to prepare welcome in our hearts, homes, and communities. The good news is that the majority of Americans agree that we should protect people fleeing violence and oppression. A recent poll conducted by the US Immigration Policy Center “shows an overwhelming majority supports investing more resources in building an asylum system that is fair, fast, and accurate.”
If you want to learn more about how to be in solidarity with asylum seekers – particularly with Venezuelans – join us and our Interfaith partners for the webinar “A Faith Call to Solidarity Along the Asylum Journey” on Wednesday, December 14th at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Please register in advance.
The following prayer, written by Sister Marie Lucey with the Franciscan Action Network, comes from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s “Preparing Welcome: An Advent Devotional for Immigrant Justice,” a collection of reflections on Scripture, opportunities for advocacy and action, and prayers for justice and the restoration of a humane asylum process.
Dear eternal God, we recognize the deep and boundless love you felt for your son – the same love you offer us. However, we are reminded that human systems and structures often create obstacles that keep your love out of reach, that leave our most vulnerable neighbors frightened and alone—longing for water in the wilderness. We pray today for all who are seeking love, mercy, justice, and lasting safety. May your love embrace them, and may we “be strong and fear not” as we strive to break down systems that oppress and harm and divide.