Last year at Christmastime one of my neighbors was deported. The next day his mother showed up to volunteer as a gift wrapper at our annual community Christmas Store. I told her she should go home, that it was all right to sit this one out.
"No, my neighbors are depending on me," she replied. I think she was happy to be able to serve others and to look beyond her own grief for a few hours. In my heart, I prayed that the coming year would bring immigration reform: some way for our immigrant neighbors to be free to be with their families, and free to participate without fear in our community.
Two weeks ago, we had our first Christmas Store meeting. In planning for this year's event we reflected on the last few months: babies have been born and couples have gotten married. And my neighbor's son died crossing back into the U.S. to be with his family. Almost a year has passed and there has been no reform.
As we brainstormed about who should have priority to shop at the Christmas Store, everyone talked about families where the breadwinners have been deported and situations where people have lost jobs in document verification crackdowns. In some cases, people had been working for years, even decades, prior to becoming unemployed with all prospects for further employment blocked by the lack of a path toward legalization.
As we enter into this Advent season, I am mindful that we are still a people waiting expectantly for change. And like the people of Israel that first Christmas, our hope is found not just in political reform but in Jesus Christ -- Reformer, Reconciler, Redeemer.
While my hope is not in political systems, some of the solutions to the issues and needs of immigration are decidedly political. This season we have an opportunity to follow Christ, who reached out to those rejected by others and spoke truth to those in power. As we celebrate the arrival of the Hope of the World, let us testify to hope with actions that speak up for those with no legal right to speak for themselves, and ensure justice for those who are suffering.
Crissy Brooks is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mika Community Development Corporation in Costa Mesa, California.