'Where are you from?' At first, it is a seemingly benign question, an early conversation piece. And in Brussels, it forms part of the trinity of questions along with, 'What do you do?' and 'How long have you been in Brussels?' However repetitive answering these questions may feel at times, these are also fair questions in Brussels, since it is the second-most international city in the world (in terms of percentage of the population) after Dubai.

So, to answer them: I have lived in Brussels since September 2012; I work as the Outreach Worker at Holy Trinity, Brussels and I am finishing my PhD in Philosophy; and I am originally from the United States, more specifically, I grew up just outside Orlando, Florida. For me, the 'where' question is almost as straightforward as the 'when' or the 'why' question. For my wife, on the other hand, it is a bit more complicated. She is the holder of both a Dutch and an American passport, born in the US, spent most of her childhood moving around Ohio and the northeast, except for a two year stint in Jerusalem at the age of nine. For her, Brussels is now the place she has lived the longest in her life.

'Where are you from?' Sometimes, it is a not uncomplicated question. And moreover, it is a question of identity, of belonging, of place, of (too often) categoricalisation -- oh, you’re American, you must be loud and friendly. You’re Dutch? I bet you can really pinch a penny. French? You love to cook, don’t you? British? Well, don’t even get me started…

Beyond the stereotypes and the cliches, where we are from does help define us. It affects how we speak, what facial expressions we are most prone to, and dozens of other things that make up “culture,” which comes from the word to cultivate, of course, identifies a place.

But this is not our only identity, and if we are Christians, it shouldn’t be our primary identity at all. As St. Paul reminds the Philippians, he reminds us: 'But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.' It is quite the reminder, especially given the current political context of Brexit, along with the rest of it, which seeks to divide people according to earthly forms of identity. As Christians, we are called beyond that. Every Easter, we read St Peter’s words: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.' How radical for a Jewish man in the first century to be saying this? It is only by the transforming power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit that it could be said: everyone is welcome to come.

The Kingdom of God is not like any of the kingdoms of this world. It will not be divided by language, tribe, or nation, but all will rejoice in praising the Lamb who was slain. And if we, who confess to belong to that Kingdom, to follow that King of kings, shouldn’t we be imitating his way? Any conversation about Brexit needs to begin here. And so, we are beginning here, Today, on Ascension Day, we remember that we are aliens and strangers here on earth, called to bring out another Kingdom. This Kingdom is not one of division but of unity, not one of bitterness of strife but of healing and reconciliation, not of anger or fear or hate but one of love, peace, and hope.