Baby Jesus, the Refugee

It’s not part of the Christmas story that gets emphasized…baby Jesus and his parents’ nighttime escape to Egypt soon after His birth…the reigning King Herod’s fearful and furious command to kill all boys under two years of age living in and near Bethlehem. (Matthew 2: 13-18)

Baby Jesus…the refugee.

I wonder how Mary and Joseph, the earthly mother and father of Jesus, survived in Egypt. How did they “make it?” How did Joseph find work? Did Mary make friends? What about their families back home? Were Mary and Joseph able to send any word of their midnight flight to Egypt? Did their families give up hope and succumb to grief, believing the young family had perished under Herod’s orders? Did they feel safe in Egypt…with no documentation? Who welcomed them, showed them kindness?

Sadly this Biblical story plays out everyday in our world. Today mothers and fathers are fleeing with their children across borders or jumping into rickety boats to escape corrupt regimes and violent rebel groups.

Everyday. Right now.

While Christmas lights twinkle and endless advertisements for holiday sales flicker across our screens, whole communities are being displaced and families torn apart in the chaotic flight for survival and safety.

(photo courtesy of darialvovsky on Etsy)

(photo courtesy of darialvovsky on Etsy)

It’s easy at this time of year to picture the tender Nativity scene, and see Jesus as a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. But can we see Jesus in the refugee from Bhutan or Eritrea or Iraq? Can we see Jesus wrapped in two jackets and riding the bus to English class or shuffling quietly behind her shopping cart in the grocery store?

I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, ‘this is hungry Jesus; I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him.’ ~Mother Teresa

Christians believe the baby Jesus was prophesied in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures as being Immanuel, “God with us.” God has come among us. He’s come to Sioux Falls.

Will we welcome Him?

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