Posted by on 25 December 2015 | 1834 Comments

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So this is Christmas.  Once again the day has come when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Immanuel.  Our God is with us.

For me, this year I have been surprised by God.  I have found myself drawn like never before to the end of the narrative:  Joseph is warned by an angel to flee Bethlehem and embarks on a journey which will take he and Mary and baby Jesus to Egypt where they will carve out life in an unfamiliar, foreign land until the death of King Herod gives them opportunity to return safely to their home.

It’s the part of the story that never gets told in our Children’s Christmas concerts.  Too violent.  Too dangerous.  Even somewhat unfathomable to our civilized twenty-first century sensibilities.

Except….

This Christmas, some four and a half million refugees find themselves fleeing their homeland of Syria.  Four and a half million.  The number is staggering.  It is beyond our ability to even comprehend the enormity of what is taking place today - right now - in our world.

So let’s break it down to something manageable.  Today - Christmas Day - there is a father who finds himself somewhere between the only country he has ever lived in and a continent some hundred miles away.  Travelling on foot with his wife and two children, he will sleep in the open country tonight, relying on a couple of ragged filthy blankets and the collective body heat of his family to provide the warmth needed for this night.  He knows that they will journey on tomorrow, regardless of whether or not they are able to secure food or water for the journey.  He fears that if his children stray from his sight they may fall into the hands of those who will harm, abuse or exploit them.  And he knows that this daily cycle will repeat itself until he arrives at the border of a country that is able to provide a safe haven for he and his family.

And he knows that once at the border, there is every chance that he and his family may be denied access to the very place that offers some semblance of hope for its future.  He knows they may find themselves stranded for days, weeks... how long in a backlogged community formed as other families like his wait and wonder if they will be accepted out of the country which has become - for them - uninhabitable.

And he knows that even if they are received, they must now start with nothing to rebuild life in a land whose culture, traditions and language are foreign.

Where is God in all of this?  Well, let’s remember this:  God knows.  And when he came to earth, his parents were subject to this same experience.  But let’s also remember that today we are not talking about just one family.  We are talking about four and a half million people.

This crisis will not disappear overnight.  But we can make a difference.  And so we give to agencies on the ground, who are working hard to help alleviate the very real day-to-day needs of an unprecedented mass of people who have been forced to flee from their homeland.  We pray for these agencies and for wisdom for governments all around the world as they wrestle with how to respond appropriately to this crisis.

But mainly tonight, we pray for a dad, and a mom and their children who sleep in the open air without shelter this Christmas night.  We pray for safety.  We pray that tomorrow they would find food.  We pray that their journey would bring them to a place of asylum.  And we pray that God will grant them a future in a new land.

But tonight we pray not only for a dad and a mom and their children.  We pray for four and half million like them.

May they not lose heart, and may they not lose hope on the journey.  Lord, just as you protected Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, protect our Syrian refugees this Christmas Day.  Watch over this mass of fellow human beings, as they seek a safe haven in the world.  

   

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