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Advent devotional centers voices of refugees and immigrants

Award-winning Unbound series continues with timely focus

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — This fall, the news has been filled with images of refugees from Afghanistan and other countries coming to the United States, and immigration has been a major issue in several recent elections.

This Advent season, Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Justice is providing a platform for people in the immigrant and refugee communities to speak for themselves in “Another Road: An Immigrant & Refugee Advent Devotional.” It is the latest in the journal’s award-winning series of Advent and Lenten devotionals including  “Starry Black Night: A Womanist Advent Devotional” and “Ashes to Rainbows: A Queer Lenten Devotional.”

“Foundational to the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany season is that Jesus and his family were refugees,” said the Rev. Lee Catoe, managing editor of Unbound. “They fled danger and sought refuge in a land that was not of their own because they had no choice.

“As we are seeing the influx of refugees from multiple places, there has been an increase in xenophobia and racism toward our immigrant and refugee siblings — and this hate is coming from people of faith. Our Christian faith follows the teachings and experience of a person of color who was a refugee, and we have to begin the work to condemn hate and construct life-giving theologies that many of our siblings who are immigrants or refugees can invite us in to learn.”

See ‘Another Road,’ Unbound’s 2021 Advent devotional

Catoe said that the devotions range from personal experiences to reflections on how to welcome refugees and immigrants. Susan Krehbiel, Associate for Refugees & Asylum for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and Amanda Craft, Manager for Advocacy in the Office of the General Assembly’s Office of Immigration Issues, helped curate writers and ideas for the devotional. The devotional also includes a “Daily Word” Advent calendar, linked at the bottom of the devotional page.

Contributors include Rev. Dr. Cheni Khonje, a political refugee from Malawi who offers the Christmas Day reflection, and Prince Mundeke Mushunju, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who leads a 1001 New Worshipping Community in North Carolina. This Sunday’s devotion is from the Rev. Victor H. Floyd of Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, who tells the story of meeting Peter, a refugee from Guatemala who is gay, who Floyd and his husband sponsored to come to the U.S.

The Rev. Victor H. Floyd

“The Way of the Lord is not being prepared at our southern border,” Floyd writes in telling Peter’s story, which has biblical echoes. “Perhaps asylum-seekers like Peter embody the prophecy most vividly. He lived like John the Baptist while on his way here. He walked, like an ancient Jerusalemite, across wilderness wanting for home. Now, he sings the Lord’s songs in a strange land.

The series starts with devotions the first three Sundays of Advent, a mid-week devotion the third week of Advent, and seven more devotions between Christmas Eve and Epiphany, Jan. 6, 2022.

“The church must begin the work of full inclusion of our siblings who come here for refuge and opportunity,” Catoe said. “Our calling as Christians is to open up space and the table for all perspectives no matter the ways in which they are expressed. This devotional is not meant to be ‘academic’ or give into westernized ideas of what writing or theology should be. It is what the Spirit has worked, and it shows how the Spirit is moving. ‘Another Road’ invites all of us to travel down other roads and other experiences, take it in, sit in it, and open our hearts because that is what we are here to do.”

Unbound is part of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, which is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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