(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
January 13, 2019
The church has long practiced hospitality. We do this because Jesus commands it. It is not always popular, yet this is a consistent practice of churches. This is true around our world but is a particularly strong and long tradition in Canada. Our history is different in many ways from our neighbour’s to the south.
Two of the largest and most influential institutions in British North America at the start of the 19th century were the Protestant and Catholic Churches. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and some British and European Baptists were the main providers of Canada’s educational, welfare, and healthcare infrastructure in English Canada, while the Roman Catholic church in Quebec and Francophone areas provided the same services in French Canada. All universities in the 19th century were church established.
Canada never had the uniquely American belief that church and state should be entirely separate. (In fact, I wonder if the US created this to protect the state from the influences of the churches.) Canada has a different religious history. We are more cooperative, inclined to work together on common projects, and are the inventors of inter-church coalitions.
Churches in Canada have long welcomed immigrants, including immigrants who were different from their own ethnic roots. Inner city missions in Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal provided critical first welcomes to new immigrants; Chinese, Irish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Polish and many others.
My father’s family came from Ireland in the 1830s to work on the Rideau Canal, and my mother immigrated as a toddler with her family from Perth, Scotland in 1929, just in time for the Great Depression. Church was a first point of contact to us, a place to feel at home.
Why do I share this today? Immigration, migration, refugees are much in the news. Some people feel that this is a new thing. It is not. All of human history is the story of migration.
Jesus family were forced to go to Bethlehem at a most inconvenient time when the birth of a child was imminent. Yet the government compelled this journey.
Jesus family went to Egypt to escape the genocide of the innocent children of Bethlehem as the order of Herod the Great and Terrible. Perhaps this is where the valuable gifts of the Magi went, to pay the costs of travel to get to a safe place. Jesus was a refugee, and in Jesus name, we welcome refugees. This congregation, and many, many congregations in Canada sponsor refugees in partnership with our government, in cooperation with provincial and municipal governments. We all work together to welcome those who must leave their homes.
We also send financial support to refugees so that they can live in safe places until it is safe to return to their home country. We call this being faithful. To Jesus.
I am proud of this congregation. We are courageous and generous in seeking to serve others. I am astounded and amazed with the leadership and skill and sheer time devoted to our refugee sponsorship by over 50 caring people from this congregation. Well done! Thank you.