Dear UUJMCA Community,
I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and share with you my reflection on Christmas in 2021. Christmas for us as Unitarian Universalists is often a mixed bag of emotions. For some it is a time to hold onto or rekindle traditions of the past with family and friends that are deeply rooted in Unitarian and Universalist Christianity. For others, specifically many of our Queer (LGBTQ+) siblings it is a time that brings with it troubled memories of family and community loss. For many of us this year in 2021 this entire holiday season weighs on us as we learn to live without family and friends due to COVID-19, and the continued separation this pandemic has brought with it since March of 2020. I hold all of these members of our community, all of you, in my heart this holiday season.
As I have reflected on the Christmas story, the second chapter of Luke of the Christian Testament that describes a very pregnant Mary and Joseph traveling though Syria on their way to Bethlehem has particularly stood out to me. This story asks me to remember all the young immigrant families who are displaced from their homes, communities and families because of poverty, war, and political unrest during this time of year.
Just like Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem without any place to welcome them, thousands of families have traveled far from home and now reside at our southern border. Traveling great distances and at great risk to seek more opportunities in their pursuit of happiness, and a better life, they have found no welcome at our door. Many of these families are whole communities of high school aged youth, queer persons, large families and single individuals who have formed families of choice. They come to our border from Latin and South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East with the hope to have freedom, many seeking asylum, fleeing oppression, leaving everything and everyone they know behind only to find that there is no room at the inn ~ no welcome to be found.
Additionally, this year I also hold a very specific subgroup of our community in my heart that isn’t “at the border.” I am reminded of the thousands of Afghan refugees who are seeking refuge here in the United States and many other countries. Hearing about what our Afghan siblings are going through breaks my heart, both those who have arrived and those who were left behind. I am a member of the UU Church of Davis. Our congregation worked in concert with the Immigrant Rescue Committee of Sacramento to collect basic household belongings for families who were able to get out of Afghanistan soon after the collapse of the US occupation there, to be resettled in Northern California.
In our front yard is a sign that declares “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you are here.” It is in Spanish, English and Arabic. The sign is part of an awareness and fundraising effort to support DACA applicants so they can apply for or continue that status. Unfortunately the future of DACA is uncertain leaving many young people in limbo while they valiantly continue their education or enter into careers. We know that all the lives of these young people could be in jeopardy and some could be forced back to countries they do not know if we do not continue to press our leadership to move forward with DACA.
The Christmas story is a Jewish story of hospitality, one that asks us to welcome the stranger. On this Christmas Day and throughout this holiday season, I hold and ask you to hold our immigrant families in our collective heart. Please ask yourself, “How can we be better welcomers and make it possible for all who knock at our door to stay?”
UUJMCA Board of Trustees