As a Christian, I get frustrated by the things that dominate the messages of our churches, pulpits, and individuals during Christmas. As Christians prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, on Dec. 25, many of us forget very important parts of the story: the part of the Christmas story, where a very pregnant, Mary, and her husband, Joseph, have to travel to Bethlehem, probably in a caravan of other migrants, to get the newly required immigration paperwork ordered by the Roman government.
I fear that so many American Christians have gotten so off track with the true message of Christmas, that our holiday is becoming corrupted.
During Christmas, instead of just listening to Christmas songs and shopping, may I suggest that we (re)read the story of the birth of Christ.
Instead of telling our children the traditional Christmas stories of the Three Kings, the birth in the manger, and Jesus being wrapped in cloth, it is equally important that our children know the Christmas story that Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus had to flee to Egypt as refugees because King Herod ordered the murder of all baby boys in their home country.
Again, the Christmas story is of a newborn Christ from a virgin, Mary, but it is also the story the poor, oppressed people who had to leave their home because of immigration policies and then were refugees who fled to safety in Egypt.
I love the traditions of decorating our Christmas tree, baking cookies, and opening gifts on Christmas morning. But, I find it hard to celebrate knowing that right now, we have a President who has sent our military to open fire, spray water hoses, and pepper spray, on refugees who, like The Holy Family, are just trying to bring their children to the safety of our country. If ever there were a season to welcome refugees, it is Christmas season.
I worry about the lack of the priorities of Christians, who worry about whether or not people are saying, “Merry Christmas,” instead of Christians being worried about how we can help, welcome, and keep refugees safe, like Egypt did for our Holy Family.
Our role as Christians is to respond to people in need like Christ would respond.
In Central America, the Middle East, and many parts of Africa right now, there are terrible tragedies leading to the genocide of many people. For the lucky refugees who manage to escape, many of them are denied entry into countries that have the resources to help them.
The real question for Christians this Christmas is this: How do we, as Americans, help the people seeking refuge and asylum from oppression, war and brutal circumstances?
The Christian answer is not to leave them in refugee camps, refuse them entry into our country or build a massive wall.
The best way to honor the birth of Jesus is to help and love people. I doubt Jesus is as concerned about the size of your Christmas tree or how many gifts you get for your children, as he is worried about what you are doing to stop Trump from creating inhumane immigration policies and stopping refugees fleeing danger like Mary and Joseph did.
I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas than by helping refugees. Offering safety to people like Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus within our country is the best way to honor the Holy Family and that is the best way to say Merry Christmas.