“The angel said to Mary, …‘nothing will be impossible with God.’…Then Mary said, ‘…Let it be with me according to your word.’”  (Luke 1:37-38)

In the past few weeks I was given the gift of some very special words by a new friend. The phrase this man spoke struck deeply into my heart, and his words have not been far from my mind in these days as I reflect back over my involvement in ministry this past year, as I consider the season in which the Church finds itself, and as I look forward to the days ahead.

The words were delivered in the context of describing the plight faced by refugees – a set of circumstances and statistics with which I have become very familiar in my role as Director of one of the nine national agencies that work in partnership with the U.S. government to resettle refugees in this country. My new friend pointed out that refugees have lived through violence that most native born Americans could never imagine, let alone have experienced. He stressed that before being robbed of their homes and livelihoods these women and men were lawyers and bakery owners, doctors and factory workers, Nobel Prize winners and school teachers; and he rightly proclaimed that they can be these things again. He drew my attention to the hardships refugees face, and their willingness and abilities to overcome them.

Then came the words: “This moment – this time when they are refugees – does not define them. But our response will help to define us.”

As the season of Advent draws to a close, and we hear once again the conversation between Mary and the Archangel, I think it is hopeful for us to be reminded that God’s power is without equal. It is hopeful for us to be reminded that God’s love is without limit. And, it is hopeful – and transformative – for us to be reminded that Mary responded fully, completely, and without fear.

We have a calling before us, a calling to love others. We are faced with choices that mean life or death for more than 60 million people worldwide. This is a defining moment.

Visit episcopalmigrationministries.org to learn how you might become more deeply involved in The Episcopal Church’s ministry among refugees, or to show your support with a donation.

May God bless you this day, and always.

The Reverend Canon E. Mark Stevenson
Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries