First Sunday of Advent EMM Reflection by Rushad Thomas
“And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:37

Because Advent is a season of preparation for our celebration of the FIRST coming of the Lord  Jesus Christ, it can often be lost on us that the scripture lessons we hear during the Sunday Eucharist  in this season point instead to the SECOND coming of the Savior. We are admonished by the  Evangelist to “keep awake,” because we do not know when the master of the house will return. St.  Mark’s call to vigilance is not merely a personal, individual call to be alert to the implications of  Jesus’s imminent coming. It is also a collective call to recognize that time is short, the hour is near,  and we must together work urgently to build God’s kingdom on earth.

When the Savior returns, what kind of world will greet him? Will he return to a world in which we,  his body, have lived together into the vision of God’s loving liberating, and life-giving Gospel?  There are many ways in which the Christian community does this, every day: every family that’s fed  by a parish soup kitchen, every underprivileged child educated by our schools, every lonely senior  who enjoys the company of a Eucharistic visitor. Christians around the world go above and beyond  the call of Christ to spread his transformative love to their fellow man.

But there are so many ways in which Christians fall short of the Gospel’s call. No society  transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ would allow immigrant children at the border to be  ripped from the arms of their parents. No “Christ-haunted culture,” to borrow a phrase from  Flannery O’Connor, would deport people brought to the United States as children through no fault  of their own back to an alien land. No nation whose God is the Lord would turn its back on  vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution and conflict.

Indeed, He is coming quickly. When he does, will he find a nation and a world prepared to receive  him? Let us continue, in this new church year, to beg the Lord for the grace and strength to show  his radical love to our immigrant brothers and sisters, so that when he comes again, we can say to  him: Yes, Lord, we were awake. May we live forever in the awareness of your love.

A native of Central Florida, Mr. Thomas brings a passion for the Gospel of Welcome to his role as Policy Advisor. After working for three years on civic education and historic preservation/interpretation at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, Rushad made his way to D.C., where he’s worked for a variety of organizations, from a higher education policy nonprofit to a grassroots political action committee. Immediately prior to OGR, Rushad served as a press advisor at the center-left think tank Third Way, where he provided counsel on strategic communication and press operations. Rushad holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Florida A&M University, a Master’s degree in Government and a Graduate Certificate in Political Management from Regent University, and a Master’s degree in Political Communication from American University. A member of the Episcopal Church since November 2013, Rushad currently attends Grace Church in Alexandria, Va.