Advent Evening Prayer Reflection, December 18, 2016
by Cheryl Behrent, Director of Sarah’s: an Oasis for Women, a transitional home for women.
In today’s gospel Joseph was afraid. An angel of the Lord came to him and told him to not fear. Joseph turned to Mary and took her into his home. In these times of uncertainty and change, some fear is natural. Like Joseph, we need to keep pushing forward despite it all and doing as the Lord asks of us. In this time the psalm promises: justice shall flourish and profound peace so long as the moon endures. We can be positive. Our need to be open to what unfolds and our piece in it is as certain as the endurance of the moon! As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
We know only of the moon because of its proximity to Earth in the solar system. The moon has no light of its own and rather reflects light from the Sun. The Sun is a start at the center of the solar system. One of billions of stars. Like the billions of stars, we all contribute to the light in the world when we in the words of Margaret Wheatley, “Turn to one another,” with the sureness that God wants for us to turn to the stranger and welcome the stranger into our hearts.As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
This is the kind of sureness with which women have come to Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women the past twenty years. They are desperate and they are determined. At Sarah’s, each woman hears ‘you can do it!’ with great faith in her and her accomplishments to come. Great faith that she is a good woman in the world. That she will bring with her the love and confidence she gains at Sarah’s from residents, staff, and Sisters of St. Joseph community who come to know her. That peacemaking will prevail on Earth today…. That love will abound more and more.As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
It was with this sureness that Mother St. John Fontbonne sent the first Sisters of St. Joseph to America. And with which she knew, despite not hearing from them, that they had made it and would receive her letter. These first Sisters’ ministries brought them to a place and time of uncertainty. I’m sure that they too were afraid. They opened their hearts to the strangers who they came to help.As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
At Sarah’s, a stranger is welcomed in. The word “Stranger” is defined as: “A person one does not know or with whom one is not familiar” also, “One in the house of another as a guest, visitor, or intruder”
and, “One who does not belong.”
Sarah’s has a mantra, “you are a good woman.” This is assumed in faith because there is no way of knowing one’s past nor do they define a woman based on her past.
At Sarah’s, women are invited as guests into a place that becomes home to them. These guests are referred to not as tenants, nor as clients, but are called residents (“people who live in a particular place”)
and women (”adult female human beings”)
. Here the focus is the resilience of human beings and home in a community where women are welcomed home to simply live.
Though coming from seventy different countries, many faiths, young and old, many languages, and with many life experiences and ways of defining oneself, all are welcomed and invited to feel at home, to belong at Sarah’s.As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
Another of Sarah’s mantras, “Sarah’s will always be your home” magnifies this sense of belonging and women say that they think of Sarah’s as their mother’s home and all those therein as sisters and mothers to them.
Sarah’s hopes that in the world, peacemaking may prevail every day so that we may welcome the stranger into our part of the world and into the home that is in our hearts.As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!
At Sarah’s women offer a blessing over the food we share in a welcoming of all faiths and peoples. I extend this as a blessing over us all here, and now:[Sarah’s Interfaith Dinner Prayer]
Creator, by all the names we know you,
We thank you for our lives today.
We thank you for the food you’ve given us; For
Earth giving us animals, fruits, vegetables, and grains;
For Rain and Sun making it ripe and good.
For the many hands that worked in forests,
Streams, mountains, and fields to bring it to us and
Those who prepared it for us to eat
giving us energy, health, and strength.
Thank you for this beautiful day and for happy hearts,
As we receive your blessings.
Thanks for darkness, stars and moon at night to give us rest.
We thank you for Sarah’s and for women who found here
Hope, Home, peace, safety, love, and beauty.
With the light from Sarah’s candles,
we think of Former residents, former staff
and volunteers who are thinking of us.
We are grateful every day, all of us One together.
And hope that we may grow more loving to each other,
Being kind and good in all we say and do, and
To the world and all the creatures in it, to those lacking love,
and those who do not have a home like Sarah’s or food to eat.
And as we always say at Sarah’s,
May peacemaking Prevail on Earth today. Amen.
May we say to each one we meet and welcome::As sure as the sun comes up every day and the moon shines every night…Do not be afraid…you can do it!