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Knowing, Loving, and Serving in 2022

One of the optional readings for the Second Sunday After Christmas comes from Matthew 2 and it is commonly called “The Flight to Egypt.” In this short narrative, Joseph decides to flee Judea with his young family after the angel warns him of Herod’s plot to murder all the newborn baby boys in and around Judea. We solemnly remember this senseless loss of life each year on the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28.

For a time, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lived as refugees in Egypt. Fleeing violence in their homeland, they sought protection in a foreign land, and it is only because of this difficult and life-altering move that they were able to survive. There are many parallels to our own day in this story. According to the UNHCR, the number of people fleeing violence, persecution, warzones, famine, and disease is higher now than it has ever been in human history—almost 92 million people worldwide are currently displaced or in serious trouble.

I am proud that Christ Church of the Ascension has taken steps to help refugees. In September, we delivered a truckful of supplies to the International Refugee Committee to help Afghan families moving to the US get a new home up and running. We’ve also worked with our friends and ministry partners at Cruzando Fronteras to understand how cartel violence is displacing scores of people in Mexico. In 2022, we will continue to look for ways that we can continue to lend a compassionate hand to those families who—like the Holy Family some 2,000 years ago—understand that fleeing their home is the only way to live in safety.

When we take the call to help those on the margins seriously, we learn something about the nature of Christ in the process. I’ve been enjoying Bishop Curry’s book Love is the Way (class starting January 12 at 11AM), and he addresses this right at the beginning of the book; speaking about his own relatives, grandparents and aunts and uncles who moved to the North to flee Jim Crow laws in the South, he writes, “They migrated from the South; more accurately, they fled the South, not unlike the migrants, immigrants, and refugees of all human generations as far back as the Hebrews fleeing famine and settling as immigrants in Egypt, or Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus generations later fleeing persecution in Palestine and finding refuge in Egypt” (p. 2, Kindle version). When we see and hear the stories unfold in the lives of our relatives, friends, and neighbors, we come to understand something about the nature of Christ that lives within each of us. As Thomas Merton said, we begin to see both the face of Christ—and the face of ourselves—in those people we meet everywhere.

As we transition into 2022, I encourage you to join us as we take our mission to Know, Love, and Serve Christ to heart. Join us for any one of our classes and be challenged and encouraged by the stories we hear from Bishop Curry, Fr. Gregory Boyle, or the psalmists. Join us as we continue to provide housing, food, clothing, and supplies to families trying to live a better life together. And most of all, be open to seeing the face of Christ in everyone around you and allow God’s love to overwhelm you.\

The Rev. Dr. Perry M. Pauley

Associate Rector

Christ Church of the Ascension

Paradise Valley, AZ