Blog by Kristyn Peck (she/her/hers), LSSNCA Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Over the past year I have repeatedly come back to a song that the band Keane released in 2019 with the prescient title Difficult Year. It’s a beautiful song, and every time I hear it, I think, well, if that’s not the biggest understatement! Keane couldn’t have known they were somehow intuiting the incredible difficulty to come in 2020, in particular the global pandemic that has so far taken the lives of more than 1.5 million people. The song concludes with: “It’s been a difficult year. I just wish we’d been together to face it.”
The truth is that although this has been a difficult year for everyone, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, as yet another symptom of the systemic racism that plagues our country. The tragic and traumatic deaths of George Floyd, Amhaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others who were victims of violence due to the color of their skin have brought this systemic racism into sharp focus.
At Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) we are inspired by the ministry of Jesus Christ to work with communities in need, especially newcomers to our county, to create belonging. We believe creating belonging is the path towards healing and resiliency. Creating belonging requires openness to the transformation that can occur from listening to another person’s lived experience. It comes from a wholehearted belief in our interconnectedness and our shared human experience.
During the Advent season, Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time of hope and anticipation for Christ’s coming, understood literally as both as his past incarnation as the baby Jesus and his future second coming, but also as his present ministry among us. There is much I am hopeful for this Advent season. As I write this, the United Kingdom has launched a COVID-19 vaccination program, the first in what I hope will be an unprecedented global effort.
The New Year will bring a new U.S. presidential administration, and with it I am hopeful for policy changes that will increase access of refugees and immigrants to the U.S. refugee protection system, ensuring just and humane treatment of families and other persons seeking asylum. I am encouraged by the collective reckoning about racial injustice, and I am hopeful for meaningful change to continue the process of dismantling systemic racism. The hope of Advent brings light in what has been an undeniably difficult year, and finding a path toward togetherness – in a word, unity – within our social distance is what will get us through this.
Wishing you and yours hope and joy this holiday season. I look forward to our work in the New Year to offer hope, create belonging, and foster unity.
*Kristyn Peck started as LSSNCA’s CEO on November 30th. She and her husband, Robert Yates, live in Baltimore, MD with their retired racing greyhound, Indy.
For more information about LSSNCA and how you can get involved this holiday season, visit LSSNCA.org.