Saturday, December 30, 2017

Jesus, the Refugee

" angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." Matthew 2:13.

I bought this Christmas ornament from a popular card store. We looked closely and realized that there is no baby in the manger! What use is a manger scene without Jesus? Reminds me of the current culture where the focus has shifted from celebrating Christmas to Holiday Season. The message of the manger is endangered.

''There’s much we don’t know about Joseph and Mary. We assume Mary was quite young. Somehow we think Joseph was a bit older, for he was a carpenter. In a land of few trees and unlimited rocks, where houses were built of stone, that may indicate he was more of a stonemason than a woodcrafter. But still, there’s so much we don’t know. For example, how did the couple feel when they left Nazareth for Bethlehem? Did they cast a parting glance at their little hometown on the hillside?

Here’s what we do know. Joseph and Mary were devoted to caring for their baby. Jesus came first. They searched for the best spot for His birth, dedicated Him to God in infancy, and undertook a rigorous trip to Egypt when He was endangered. The most important thing about Joseph and Mary was their devotion to Christ." (Turning Point)

Traditional Muslims who come here also try to keep Christ out of the season. We were at a party recently where there was no reference to Christmas or the holiday. In fact, even the Christmas trees in the four corners of the banquet room were unplugged.

This year we noticed fewer Christmas carols sung in the malls and less decorations. Was this intentional or a budget issue? Without a spirit of giving...without the core message of 'Jesus', this 'holiday season' may not survive as we know it. God's gift to earth has provided inspiration to give at this time of year--with a year end tax receipt taboot for those who need it. Let's not forget, the original Saint Nicholas's generosity in the 4th century was preceded by God's generosity.

We were with a Muslim family this past week who arrived in our city as refugees a year ago. We shared the story of Christmas--first by asking what they knew of the story. We filled in the details and the message of Christmas and that Jesus was a refugee in Egypt. Kamal said "Why don't Christians talk about God in this country?" Amazing. He was waiting for Christians to tell him the message and meaning of Christmas!! All we could say, for many people life is going great and they probably don't need God very much. Kamal observed that this phenomena was happening everywhere among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

We won't let this happen 'on our watch' and want to continue proclaiming the wonder of Jesus. We're not alone--a large teaching hospital in our city founded by the Catholics put up a full size manger scene front center of their entrance. Praise God for reminders!

Lord Jesus, I want to share you with the waiting world. Help my brothers and sisters to do likewise in their circles of influence. Amen.