Reflection from Diamond Pate
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2 In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
3 Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
5 O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
I have been thinking about the concept of sanctuary a lot lately. What does it mean to provide sanctuary, or to be sanctuary? There are several biblical examples of sanctuary, places were people can seek safety and comfort from whatever is ailing them. The Lord promises to provide such places of refuge for whoever seeks them. In our society today there are a lot of people seeking refuge. There are a lot of scared and traumatized people in need of safety. So what does it mean to be a place of sanctuary? Isn’t it our jobs as Christians, no as humans, to provide those spaces for any and all who seek it?
The Isaiah passage talks about the mountain of the Lord that becomes a space where people must go and learn the ways of peace, learn to turn weapons of hate and destruction into tools of life and creation. A place where there is no war. Currently, it is hard to imagine such a place. There are so many people in our world that are experiencing persecution or living in fear of persecution. A person must feel safe before they can imagine the work of peace. How can someone beat their sword into a plowshare when they feel like they still need it for protection? There are people being forced out of their homes and are in need of sanctuary, so we must begin there.
I can’t help but wonder, what is my responsibility, as someone answering a call to be a leader in ministry, to be in relationship with all people especially those suffering, how can I begin this work? So along with other leaders at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary we have been brainstorming ways we can be true to our vocation and provide sanctuary to terrorized and traumatized communities. How can we as an institution make a stand and pledge to do our part in creating that mountaintop refuge where tools of trauma and violence are not ignored, but transformed into instruments of peace?
One way some institutions and churches are doing this is by declaring themselves as a sanctuary. Being a sanctuary means these places are marked as a safe place for individuals and families particularly those who are facing the threat of deportation. This protection may begin as a shield for those facing deportation, but can expand to be resource for LGBTQ+ persons that are displaced due to discrimination, or as a place of comfort for brown and black persons who need to feel the relief of safety. These institutions are showing a commitment to God’s call by taking a stand against the injustice that is plaguing our communities, the weapons of war, and providing sanctuary to develop instruments of peace.
So in this Advent season as you prepare for the arrival of the Lord, the lover of peace and justice, I want you to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider this question: In what real tangible ways can I provide sanctuary to a scared and traumatized community in need of the Lord’s peace and comfort?
I am a second year Masters of Divinity student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I am a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. I am a certified candidate for ordination in the United Methodist Church. I plan to serve God as an Elder in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference.
When I was a junior in high school I knew God was calling me to ordained ministry and from the moment I accepted my call God has taken me on an incredible journey. I spent four wonderful years at Pfeiffer University, a Methodist affiliated institution in North Carolina, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Religion. At Pfeiffer I learned the importance of servant leadership which sparked a desire to experience God through service with others.
After college I joined Generation Transformation, the young adult missionary program through the United Methodist Church, where I served for two years at Hinton Rural Life Center, a mission and retreat center in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. During my service I worked with mission teams to do home repairs for families experiencing rural poverty. While I was there I learned how deeply poverty affects all aspects of a person’s life and the community as a whole, but more importantly I learned the value of faith and the reliance on community for support.
At Garrett-Evangelical I am learning the ways theological education can influence the greater community through an emphasis on public theology and social justice work. I carry all of these lessons in my heart and hope to use them for the creation of God’s Beloved Community.
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is recognized by the Center for Faith and Service as part of the Seminaries that Change the World Class of 2016-17. To learn more about Garrett-Evangelical, visit their website at www.garrett.edu or view their Seminaries that Change the World profile.