by the Rev. Matt Addington
When St. Francis learned refugees were coming to Greensboro, it just made sense that
we would get involved. The words of Teresa of Avila’s “Christ has no body but yours”
repeated over and over in my head, combined with a calling to love God and love
neighbor as self, saying yes was the easy part. Our yes, became a way to bring St.
Francis together after so many had been away for so long because of COVID. It also
made sense to see what others were doing. Because we didn’t know what welcoming
refugees might look like, St. Francis reached out to St. Barnabas and St. Andrews to
see if pooling resources could work. Our 3 churches together found a way to re-
invigorate many in our communities after a time with less happening in our churches.
We, at St. Francis, hold closely to the words attributed to Francis. Working with our
refugee families has brought all the typical feels to many in our 3 churches. We all
know the sense of good we get when helping one of our brothers or sisters. I believe
one of the more important things it has brought to our community is a reminder of how
our support systems, here in Greensboro, North Carolina, and even the US, function in
particular ways. Ways in which we, as the privileged, might have forgotten or never had
to have learned.
We have been reminded what patience is. We have been reminded
how to celebrate small victories in big ways. This work has shown our churches the value
of community. Subsidized housing looks very different through the eyes of a refugee
family than it does through the eyes of others. Living life with those who have had the
same experiences, speak the same language, and have the same cultural customs is
more important than a nicer neighborhood or the stuff of the world.
Our two refugee families have reminded us that we are all truly God’s beloved, and this
is a lesson that is most important for all of us to remember as we try to figure out what
church will look like moving forward. May we always remember that we are instruments
Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.
"Gifts Given and Received" article is a part of the Let the World Come to You article found in the North Carolina Disciple Winter 2022 issue. Digital versions are available via the North Carolina Disciple's app in the Play and App Stores. The magazine is also available through a web browser app, available here.
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