AdventWord 2019: 20. Go
“When the path is long, Christ wanders with you. When the path is difficult, God’s spirit carries you. When the path is dangerous, God’s hands embrace you. Go in peace as God’s beloved child.”
The words above are from the dismissal at a service that I accidentally wandered into at Oslo Cathedral a few years ago. I was visiting Norway for the first time after a lifetime of knowing that part of my family came from the country and several years of Norwegian language classes in New York City. I was excited and prepared for my week in Oslo: I had a list of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, family members I was going to meet for the first time, and a commitment to practice a new language even when I stumbled through it.
What I wasn’t prepared for, and honestly didn’t expect, was the sense of belonging and connection that emerged from getting on the plane and going to Norway.
That’s the power of the act of going. When we step out in faith with open hearts and minds, God expands the horizons of what we thought we knew.
One of the great blessings of my life is that I get to be part of this journey with others as they prepare to “cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus.” Through the Young Adult Service Corps and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission, Episcopalians from across our Church go to places around the Anglican Communion to serve alongside local communities, listen to and learn from their stories and experiences, and help us all connect with each other in new and deeper ways. While the initial call to go starts the process, living fully into the transformation that comes from this kind of ministry takes prayer, reflection, conversation, and time. It is an opportunity, as Lebanese artist, writer, and mystic Kahlil Gibran wrote, to meet the souls walking upon our paths.
So, as we prepare to begin a new year, let’s recommit ourselves to going to new places – those that are halfway around the world and halfway down the block. Let’s cross boundaries that have been created for us and those that we’ve created for ourselves. Let’s listen deeply to the stories that God is sharing with us through our neighbors, our communities, and ourselves – even, and perhaps most especially, when it’s hard and uncomfortable. This is the work of faith, the work of life, and of a lifetime. As we do this, our lives more closely reflect the love and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, whose advent we await with hope-filled expectation. “Go in peace as God’s beloved child.”
 The Prophet, quoted on www.poets.org/poem/self-knowledge