In re–reading St. Matthew’s telling of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18–2:23) I was stricken with the realization that Mary and Joseph were homeless refugees when they traveled to Bethlehem: an order from the emperor forced them to leave Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem to pay a tax. And Jesus, shortly following his birth, became a refugee in Egypt.
I recalled the grave animosity that existed among Egyptians toward the “Children of Israel” at the time of the Exodus: that animosity had not abated when they left Bethlehem and fled to Egypt. There is a startling similarity to the plight of refugees today who are escaping Syria, most of them with nothing but their lives.
In this Christmas Season I am reminded that Jesus was born a refugee, lived his life in poverty, but still founded a “Kingdom that is not of this world.” In our world it is easy to be distracted at Christmastime by the ever–expanding extravagance of Canadian Christmas celebrations. I encourage us to all remember the birth of our Saviour. If your community is fortunate enough to become hosts to refugees, whoever they are, I prayerfully encourage you to greet them warmly, generously and kindly: Hebrews 13:1–3 reminds us that as followers of Jesus, this is the very least He expects us to do. May God give you peace and joy as you celebrate this Christmas Season.
Dr. Clair MacMillan
National Director, Church of the Nazarene Canada