Jesus, The Immigrant

Championing The Right To Migrate While Celebrating Christmas

“Silent night, holy night. All is calm all is bright.” Picture the Thomas Kinkade Christmas card, you know, the one that’s sentimental, cheery to the point of obnoxious. You’d think that there was no systematic oppression by the Romans. You’d think that everything was radiant, happy, serene.

And then King Herod orders the massacre of infants and babies.

Imagine. Joseph and Mary and the newborn child, fleeing in the night. Fleeing violence. Fleeing death. Fleeing terror.

To Egypt. A humble man of Israel. A new mother. A young infant. It’s a foreign land, with a foreign language. But it’s safe and safety is of the utmost concern.

I wonder, was the traveling wrought with danger?

I wonder, did they experience hunger?

I wonder, did they struggle to find shelter on their journey?

And then they arrive in Egypt. They aren’t staying there for a day, a week, a month. No, they are staying in Egypt until King Herod is dead. Years? And here is this carpenter who has to somehow carve out a living for himself, his wife, his son.

I wonder, was there a language barrier?

I wonder, was it easy finding work?

Jesus. The Immigrant. It was his life that was in danger back in Bethlehem. Joseph leads his family, migrates to a foreign land…why?….to protect his son. Any father would do the same, right? Any mother would gladly sacrifice all earthly comforts to ensure the salvation of her child.

No immigration, no Jesus.

The right to migrate. It’s a human right. From the beginning of time, families and individuals have migrated for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, migration is about leaving a bad situation to find opportunities in a good situation.

Violence tends to drive a lot of migration. It has always been this way, it continues to be this way.

I wonder, what if Egypt would have refused entry to Jesus?

I wonder, what if Egypt would have forced Joseph to undergo years of vetting and jumping through hoops before allowing him to work and support his family?

No immigration, no Jesus.

I’m not a seasoned politician. I’m not a public policy expert. I don’t pretend to have all…or even most…or even many of the answers when it comes to immigration reform. But I do know sure as shooting that when Christians in America say, “those (and you know the tone) immigrants will steal our jobs” that they have forgotten or are choosing to ignore the immigration of Christ.

It’s worth repeating my refrain. No immigration, no Jesus. Imagine; before the miracles, before the teaching, before the prayer in the garden…the little baby Jesus lying dead in the street, his blood forming a puddle around his body.

Look, I understand our infrastructure can’t support every person in the entire world. I’m not even making any statements as to what immigration reform should look like. I’m not qualified to make such statements nor am I in a position where those statements could be translated into action anyway.

I’m just asking that we seek to be compassionate. Remember how in the Old Testament, God tells Israel to care for the foreigners among them because they themselves were once foreigners in Egypt? Jesus, son of God, foreigner in Egypt. Jesus, the immigrant.

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