Creating Space for Christ and the Neighbor
By Christopher McNabb
Episcopal Migration Ministries has resettled more than 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers, helping them to find a home and find hope.
I still remember my very first diocesan convention as a new Episcopalian. It was in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey had welcomed Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to speak. He invited the entire convention to take off our shoes, just as Moses did in front of the burning bush. Then, he wove a beautiful story about the people of Israel and their journey out of slavery into the promised land.
Bishop Curry spoke of the challenges and the frustrations, the people’s fear, and the struggle to choose faith over certainty. It was in that moment that I realized I was in the right church for me. Eventually, I pursued ordination and now have the pleasure of serving at Episcopal Migration Ministries.
As churches begin planning for the upcoming year, we look toward Advent, my favorite liturgical season. In this season, we wait with expectant hope for our Savior. I am mindful that for countless migrants throughout the world, this posture of waiting is not simply a practice of faith, but is rather the ground of their hope for survival and for a place to call home.
We at EMM seek to facilitate that homecoming, having recently celebrated the resettlement of the 100,000th refugee through our programs. This past year has seen the expansion of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, working to connect congregations to serve as community sponsors for asylum seekers. It also saw our team mobilize after the previous presidential administration decimated the refugee resettlement infrastructure, rising to the challenge to welcome thousands of Afghans fleeing their country as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
It is in times like these, when we see our faith put into action, that I remember Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s message—that this work is holy, and creating home is a sacred task. So may we create space in our lives for Christ; and may we create space in our homes, our congregations, and our communities to welcome newcomers. I can think of no better way to mark Advent.
The Rev. Christopher McNabb serves as the program officer for recruitment and engagement for Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Neighbor-to-Neighbor program. He lives in Seattle, Washington.