“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)
My wife and I have a Border Collie named Franklin. Or, perhaps there is a Border Collie that has us, I am not sure. In any case, besides being tremendously smart, Franklin is full of more joy than many people I know. Perhaps this is because he gives himself over so fully to whatever task is before him, and he is always and completely focused on his family. His eyes reflect his heart as they dance between his humans, his Frisbee, and the majesty of his domain. St. Paul may not have had such a dog to inspire his words, but such a creature serves to remind me of, and inspire me to, the divine call to an unending dance of focus and joy.
The Third Sunday of Advent highlights God’s call for us to rejoice in our relationship with God and with each other. There is something coming for which we are to prepare, and there is something already here of which we must be aware. Each of which, of course, is God’s love for us. Surrounded by and confronted with this love, we sing and dance in thankfulness.
This divine love that is both coming and present is reflected in the ministry that the Church has among refugees. Over the years since The Episcopal Church began the formal work of resettling refugees to the safety of America, we have welcomed thousands upon thousands of children, women, and men fleeing violence or persecution – more than 90,000 since 1980 alone. These former refugees now have a place to play and to pray, the ability to freely work and to rest, and the opportunity to learn and to share of themselves. They have a home; their families are ours; and our families are theirs. These new Americans have been welcomed to a joyous dance because so many who were already here have answered the call to rejoice in God.
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