by Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers

In 1980, writer, poet, and worship liturgist Ann Weems wrote a book titled “Kneeling in Bethlehem,” reflecting on the mystery of the Christmas season. Reflecting on all that is going on in our world today as we prepare again for this Advent/Christmas season, we found so many of her poems poignant and relevant for such a time as this. One particular jumped out to us, and we want to share it for our Advent reflections. It’s titled “THE REFUGEES.”

Into the wild and painful cold of the starless winter night

came the refugees,

slowly making their way to the border.

The man, stooped from age or anxiety,

hurried his small family through the wind.

Bearded and dark, his skin rough and cracked from the cold,

his frame looming large in spite of the slumped shoulders:

He looked like a man who could take care of whatever

came at them

from the dark.

Unless, of course, there were too many of them.

One man he could handle…two, even…,

but a border patrol…

they wouldn’t have a chance.

His eyes, black and alert,

darted from side to side, then over his shoulder,

Had they been seen?

Had they been heard?

Every rustle of wind, every sigh from the child,

sent terror through his chest.

Was this the way?

Even the stars had been unkind –

had hidden themselves in the ink of night

so that the man could not read their way.

Only the wind…was it enough?

Only the wind and his innate sense of direction…

What kind of cruel judgment would that be,

to wander in circles through the night?

Or to safely make their way to the border

only to find the authorities waiting for them?

He glanced at the young woman, his bride.

No more than a child herself,

she nuzzled their newborn, kissing his neck.

She looked up, caught his eye, and smiled.

Oh, how the homelessness had taken its toll on her.

Her eyes were red, her young face lined,

her lovely hair matted from inattention,

her clothes stained from milk and baby,

her hands chapped from the raw wind of winter.

She’d hardly had time to recover from childbirth

when word had come that they were hunted,

and they fled with only a little bread,

the remaining wine,

and a very small portion of cheese.

Suddenly, the child began to make small noises.

The man drew his breath in sharply;

the woman quietly put the child to breast.

Fear…long dread-filled moments…

Huddled, the family stood still in the long silence.

At last the man breathed deeply again,

Reassured they had not been heard.

and into the night continued

Mary and Joseph and the Babe.


This Season, Rev. Terri Hord Owens, Disciples GMP, invites Disciples:

"In Advent & Epiphany, we recall the journeys of the Holy Family seeking space to be together and remain safe from the threat of dangers.

As we remember, may we connect with migrants in ways that match the integrity of our personal faith's call--because the bodies and souls of migrant families area made by the Creator who is One and same on each side of all types of borders." 

Here's How You Can "Be the Light!":

As we prepare this Advent/Christmas season to again welcome the Christ Child, we pray that we will be mindful not only of the refugees at our border but all those alone, frightened, marginalized and hungry in our world today. May we find ways to heal the brokenness, restore peace, and end injustice.

Wishing you the promises of hope, peace, joy and love this season.


Together on the journey,

Don and Susan
Co-Regional Ministers, PSWR

AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt