Today something happened to me. I was hit in the face with the core of Christianity, the gospel that Christ left us, the one that He emphasized over and over again before His death and resurrection. I wasn’t thinking about much. I wasn’t thinking at all. Then, suddenly, a thought flashed into my mind: “Before He was savior, He was a refugee.” This probably isn't a new thought, but it was new to me. How did I not see it before?
The Christmas story ends with death threats from a despotic ruler, soldiers sent to destroy the children of a village, screaming mothers, grieving fathers, and for Jesus - escape to Egypt.
Images came to my mind of a harried mother and father hastily packing their meager possessions, making hard choices, clinging tightly to a bundle of baby that couldn’t have been more than two years old. Maybe Jesus was toddling away as they packed; maybe Mary was crying as she thought of the danger they were fleeing; maybe Joseph looked strong and yet felt fear creeping along the edges of his stoic resolve. “Get packed. Get Jesus. Get going. Don’t get caught.”
I wonder if the face of Joseph as he arrived in a safer location - maybe when he got to the edge of Judea, maybe when he crossed a certain river, maybe when he settled into a temporary abode in Egypt - reflected the relief that we see on the beaches of Greece and Italy today. I wonder if Mary smiled like the women arriving at the US border, babies in tow, having escaped rape, death threats, gangs, for now. Did she cry with joy as she saw the pyramids on the horizon? Hope! We escaped! Now what?
Would we have helped Joseph gather his belongings? Saddle his horses? Care for Mary and Jesus along the way? Would we have built him a house in Egypt or provided him a job that would put food into the mouth of his little son?
After all, Joseph would have been a misunderstood and perhaps even hated minority. His customs and clothes would have seemed out of place. He was different, foreign. He may have even been a little scary.
Would we have missed the savior in the moment of his earliest need because we couldn’t see past the man who carried him to safety?
Jesus would go to the cross a man, but he traveled the desert as a child. He would choose to walk to Golgatha for you, but he would have to be carried to Egypt. He would provide food for the thousands, but he would need someone along the road to sell his family food, offer them shelter, and give them a chance to give Jesus the chance to grow up in safety.
What’s interesting is that he, like many refugees, returned to his homeland once the danger was passed. That’s a luxury that many of the children his age who have perished in the waters of the Mediterranean will never have. I wonder if Jesus was excited and proud to go home, thankful for Egypt but longing for the home he’d only heard about. Those children will never have the chance for such an ending. Because no one was there to hear them cry over the waves or plead to the wind. Well, no one except for another refugee child, Jesus.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25:40
If you want to make an impact in the life of a refugee today - I can't think of a better organization than preemptive love.