A couple of weeks ago I made room for the Advent wreath on our dining room table. Soon I will make room for a crèche in my study and then for the Christmas tree. Those tasks are a sign of the Advent call to make room in our hearts for Christ, and all those for whom he would have us show his boundless compassion.
This year the world has been gripped by the global refugee crisis, especially in the migration of thousands upon thousands fleeing from Syria. Desperate for freedom and peace, they take great risks enduring treacherous voyages across the Mediterranean Sea. Political leaders throughout Europe struggle with how to make room for them. While we have seen some magnificent gestures of welcome, we have also heard some leaders speak of having surpassed their capacity to receive any more. In some places, in fact, huge fences have been erected to stop the flow of migration.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this year is heartening for them and all who want to make room for them in their communities. Through The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, our church has a long history of accompanying refugees. Through sponsorship agreements, many of our parishes across the country have welcomed hundreds of refugees and walked steadfastly with them as they settle in Canada. The stories are inspiring.
I pray this Christmas be marked by a resurgence of this ministry of radical hospitality. All this we are called to do in the name of the Holy Child whose mother, Mary, and Joseph held him close as they fled and sought refuge in Egypt from the tyranny of Herod.
Mindful of our Lord’s coming in humility to be our Saviour, we are also mindful of his coming again in glory to judge our manner of living his gospel. Did we feed the hungry, refresh the thirsty, clothe the naked, tend the sick and visit those in prison? Did we welcome the stranger? (Matthew 25).
Pray with me, dear friends, that the room we make for those seeking refuge, and the hope of new beginnings among us, be spacious.
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For further information about refugee sponsorship, contact your diocesan office to find out if your diocese holds a Sponsorship Agreement with the Government of Canada and to be connected with your diocesan refugee co-ordinator. The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (www.rstp.ca) offers resources, information and training on sponsorship for individuals and groups interested in sponsorship.