Reflections on Refugees and Service Sunday
This month we shared our fifth Sunday tradition of dedicating our worship service to community service. I just want to let you know that I love it. When I decided I wanted to be a minister, long before I decided I even wanted to be a Unitarian Universalist, what I felt called to do was use my ministry to help people serve others. I think that there is no greater, holier, no more loving act than to let go of yourself and to serve another person. I felt that as a minister, if I could help people serve one another, I could help them build a community where people would not only expect to lend a hand, but would expect that others would lend them a hand as well. I saw service as a way to strengthen our bonds together and promote the idea that we are one. We are bound to the same destiny, and we are built of the same stuff. And I think that is truly the most important goal of church community… to help us to know that we are not alone.
But this week as I have read the news and talked to friends, I am convinced that there is more to service than I ever imagined. Just a few days ago, the leaders of our country decided that we would no longer allow refugees, people who need help because they have left their own country due to violence or disaster, to enter our country. For at least the next four months for some of the most needy people around the world, our doors are closed. The reason this step has been taken is because we don’t know them, and we can’t fully trust them. There is no real evidence for this fear, but the fear itself is real, and we as a country are closing ourselves off to those in need. There is also a fear that we can’t afford, or don’t have the space to help them. Again, there is no foundation for this fear, but it is a real fear that is held by some. What if we don’t have enough because they might take some of what is ours?
Finally, there is one other fear on the minds of those who wish us to no longer offer aid to those in need around the world and that is that since they are different than us, if we let too many of them in, they may change us. The country might be different than it was before they came. And to this one I say that their fear is correct. When we connect ourselves to others we are changed, but that is the nature of being human. We talk to people, we form relationships, we learn from one another and we share. This is what community is. And yes, being in community will change us. It will help us to grow, It will help us feel connected and occasionally It will break our heart, but we would not be human without it.
In light of all that, in addition to all the other reasons acting in service with you is such an important part of our life as a community together, I now believe that service to others has become its own act of resistance. It is a way to say to our country that we are not afraid. We are not afraid to reach out to people we don’t know, we are not afraid to share what we have, and we do so knowing that we are going to help people who might not look like us and might not live like us, but are one with us in a very real way. The kids that we served and the people we will serve in the weeks ahead don’t know who we are, but we believe that if we can help we should. And, that is revolutionary.