In Spanish the words “wait” and “hope” are one: esperanza. Today is the second day of Advent, a season of waiting, a season of hope. Christians do not wait without hope. I was blessed last night to visit a group of people who have given a new meaning to Advent for me this year. A group of activists 21 days ago began a fast, with the hope that the House of Representatives would bring the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package already passed by the US Senate to a vote. Enough members of the House have declared their support that the bill would pass.
The hope is for around 11 million people who live in the United States without papers, without access to our justice system, without access to labor protection, often isolated from the families they are helping to support financially back in their countries of birth. The hope continues that people will be allowed to come out of the shadows, and into the light. This is a very Advent hope.
I had the honor of opening the evening’s prayer service on the Mall. After an update on the day’s events at the fast, Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary led us in song. Bishop Marianne Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington shared a reflection. The service concluded as Bishop V. Gene Robinson blessed the fasters. In his blessing he said, “We know how this will end. We just don’t know when.” One day, we will have a more just system of immigration, a system that does not leave so many millions in the dark. The light is coming.
Whether the Congress has the courage to act on immigration legislation before the end of their session, the fasters are waiting and hoping. They are a sign and sacrament for all of us who wait this season. Keep them in your prayers. Keep waiting. Keep hoping. We know how this will end.