As Advent draws us to Christmas, our schedules seem to reach an often frenzied level with family, church, and work activities all calling for our time and attention. Much as I’d like to slow down and reflect on the Incarnation right now, every possible distraction seems to be demanding more and more of me. My goal for these last few days is to intentionally look for Jesus in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Because I know this is such a busy time, this week’s blog will be shorter than usual so that I am not adding too much to your activity level but there’s still important information to share.
The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society presented its final webinar in the Advent Advocacy series on Tuesday. If you’ve been following along, you have much of the information already but, if you haven’t joined us yet, here’s the link to the video – https://vimeo.com/149061071
In the last few blog posts, I’ve mentioned the omnibus spending bill that could stop, pause or defund the refugee resettlement program. This bill passed the House of Representatives and is waiting for Senate approval, likely tonight (Wednesday). As I write, I don’t know the outcome for refugee resettlement (the bill is 2009 pages long) but, even if it is not hampered by the bill yet, there is so much opposition for the refugee program that we will continue to ask for your support. If you have called your legislators, please call them again. Let them know that this is an urgent issue for you.
Lacy Broemel, Manager for Communication and Operations in the Episcopal Church’s office of Government Relations, had the opportunity to attend a briefing on Capitol Hill that featured a Syrian refugee family. This father of 2 young children spoke of his house being bombed, the experience of fleeing Syria and then going through the lengthy US vetting process before arriving for a new life in Baltimore. This brave man asked: “If your city was a pit of fire, wouldn’t you leave?”
Lacy reminded us: “If we want to support refugees in our neighborhoods, they have to get here first – and that takes advocacy.” Here’s the link to the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s (EPPN) page where you can easily send a letter to your representatives, senators and governor to demonstrate your support for refugee resettlement – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/app/write-a-letter?3&engagementId=145674 And here’s their page that will give you a sample text for calling Washington – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/RefugeeAdvocacy
I’d also like to share the link to an article about our very own Michigan’s response to refugee advocacy – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/12/11/in-michigan-a-refugee-holding-pattern/ It’s a good read!!
And while we’re talking of refugee resettlement, don’t forget to share your Christmas blessing with United Thank Offering’s Advent Challenge. They will match the first $30,000 donated for Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM). What a great way to make your gift go further!! You can donate on-line here – https://episcopalchurch.thankyou4caring.org/ and read more about it here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/11/24/bulletin-insert-second-sunday-of-advent/
The Conference of Partners (COP21) in Paris wrapped up last weekend with a historic agreement for limiting the effects of climate change. The Episcopal News Service reported: “It’s the first-ever binding, international treaty in 20 years of United Nations climate talks, and all 196 parties present at 7:30 p.m. local time on Dec. 12 ratified it without exception. The agreement now goes back to each country for final ratification.” You can read their whole article here – http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/12/14/episcopal-cop21-delegates-emboldened-in-climate-change-advocacy/
More work needs to be done so check out EPPN’s page – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/climatechange Especially important is support for the Green Climate Fund which aims to provide support for those countries that are the most impacted by the rise in temperatures. For example, the Marshall Islands are already suffering from an unprecedented rise in sea level. A rise of 2-degrees Celsius is still too high for them; their slogan for climate change is “1.5 to stay alive.” The New York Times ran an article on December 1, 2015, that explains their devastating situation – http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/02/world/The-Marshall-Islands-Are-Disappearing.html?_r=0 You can also listen to a report by NPR’ Ari Shapiro who met with Marshall Island’s Foreign Minister, Tony de Brum – http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/12/09/459053208/for-the-marshall-islands-the-climate-goal-is-1-5-to-stay-alive
The Nuts and Bolts Blog will be taking a break for Christmas week but will be back for New Year’s. I will, however, be watching for news to share on our Facebook page so keep in touch through our social media.
I wish you God’s peace as you celebrate the Incarnation – our God comes to us to share in our humanity. May we be willing to follow in Jesus’ steps as we reach out to be God’s hands, feet, and voice to those around us. A Blessed Christmas and a New Year of hope and promise to you all!
Let us pray –
O Christ who comes,
not only as the sweet babe in a manger,
but also as Messiah of justice,
baptizing with Spirit and fire,
may we hear the words of your prophet.
Let John’s passionate voice
melt our hardened hearts and speak through us of the power of your coming.
This Advent, transform the dead branches of our apathy
into the good fruit of repentance.
May hostility give way to openness,
oppression to justice,
greed to generosity
and despair to hope.
We ask this through you,
whose coming is certain,
even if not always in the ways we imagine. Amen.
~ The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee