Ordinary People Taking Extraordinary Steps

By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest

Posted on December 16, 2015

In our welcome of refugees, Canadians have shown themselves as a people of hospitality and generosity. Across the country groups are forming, raising funds, gathering goods and making signs; preparing for newcomers. Various political leaders have welcomed arrivals. Ordinary citizens are taking extraordinary steps. Here at St. Paul’s the Refugee Core Working Group is working behind the scenes to get ready too, training, exploring housing possibilities, planning budgets – all to make room. All in an effort to welcome our sponsored refugee family.

All this preparation is happening in our faith-season of Advent. A time we remember and retell the story of the holy family finding little welcome as they travelled to Bethlehem. So crowded was the village that all that was available was a stable – here at least Mary and Joseph found temporary refuge. Soon though, they were forced to move again, leaving their nation and becoming refugees in Egypt for a time. Eventually, the geo-politics settled down and they were able to return home to Nazareth, a little town in Northern Israel where Jesus grew up.

I say, for ease of conversation, that I grew up in Ottawa. Truth be told, I was only there for elementary school. Due to my dad’s job we moved around. Each time we moved, we became the newcomers again, had to learn the customs again, had to start in a new school again, had to adjust to new foods again, and had to find a church again. Such moving shapes you and over time I learned to appreciate the generosity of those who welcomed us: neighbours who brought over meals and told us where to shop, classmates who showed me the shortcuts and coached me on local slang, and other expatriates who had been there perhaps only weeks longer, but invited us over.

This Advent season, remember back to being new – in your community, at work, even here at St. Paul’s. Remember what it was like and give thanks for those who welcomed you and who helped you get to where and who you are now. But do more than remember. Invite someone new to come and see. Christmas services are an excellent opportunity to introduce others to a place and a story that brings hope and joy.

By now you have probably decided which of the Christmas Services you are coming to – so take a moment and think about who you could invite to join you. Pray. Make the call. Send the text. Write the email. Drop by their place. Be an ordinary Christian, taking the extraordinary step to ask, “Would you like to come with me?”

This Advent, may we all help others catch a glimpse of God’s great generosity in sending His son, Jesus, to live among us by inviting friends and neighbours to church to hear the story of Emmanuel, God with us.