Today’s Advent reflection comes from The Rev. Ranjit Mathews, the 22nd Rector of St. James Episcopal Church, in New London, CT. He has served in this capacity for the past two and half years. He is passionate about being a mid-wife to the Realm of God in New London and the broader world, and wants to offer fresh expression of this ancient faith. His hobbies include politics, movies and hip hop culture and music. He lives with his spouse, Johanna, and their son, Dhruv in New London.
Third Sunday of Advent
“Creating space for Grace” by The Rev. Ranjit Mathews
My father, the Rev. Koshy Mathews, told me the story of how he first came to this country from India, as a new immigrant. He was a 20 something, just off the plane, attending a bible college in South Carolina. It was Thanksgiving season, and all the students at his college were going home. As someone who was new to this country, he had nowhere to go, until the Davis family of Columbia, called him up and welcomed him home for the festive day. They didn’t know him from Adam. He had brown skin, with an “accent” and the Davis family had white skin and an “accent.” There is nothing like hospitality and a warm embrace to make you feel at “home.” He still talks about his experience and how it moved him. Some twenty years ago, Dad took us back to see the Davis’s. We stayed with them and a bond that was created so many years ago through the gift of grace in hospitality. My dad and mom are now American citizens, who have given and received so much to this country they now call home.
As I meditated on Isaiah 35:1-10, I was drawn to the sentence, “for waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the dessert.” It is such a powerful sentence because it heralds the coming realm of God. It paints a picture that is vivid and inviting; and yet. And yet, as people of faith, we need to be able to embody the “Realm of God”. Of it breaking into our hearts and our worlds, where asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees – those who are seeking life, fleeing persecution would be met with open arms and a lavish grace.
It is my profound belief that we will not share in this lavish grace, if we have not received it in ourselves. Where are those spaces in our lives, which we are un-reconciled? Where are those places in our minds, hearts and bodies that long for a truer sense of wholeness? The spiritual life invites us into a deeper dive of our inner lives. It is my experience that this is life-giving, and yet it is undeniably hard… confronting ourselves, the stuff of our lives and creating space for the light of God to shine. It’s a two-step – co-creating with God in the desire for more fully living into our divine image.
My prayer is that in creating space, to do that inner work, that deep spiritual engagement – we build the blocks for a more a wholehearted, embrace of those who are different, in all senses of that word. Now that may be the immigrant, the refugee, the asylum seeker; but it may be someone who has been a thorn in your side…The invitation, which has been there all along, do each of us have the courage to dive deep?
May this Advent be that time of creating space, for ourselves and for Christ, however he comes.