Perhaps one of the most striking things this Christmas is how many people will be on the road, trying to find safe lodging and a future for themselves and their families. I am, of course, talking about the thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria, the harsh regime in Eritrea, the persecution in Iraq and so on.
We are in this country so privileged. We live in safety. We have food in our cupboards. Our homes are warm and we have flushing toilets and medicines in our cabinets. Simple things and yet things upon which we depend. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to live in a refugee camp or to have to beg for food.
Looking for safe lodging and charity hand outs is something that God knows about from first hand experience. Think of the Christmas story; Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were themselves travellers on the road. They too had to up sticks and leave their home. They too lived in terrible times with evil leaders and violent soldiers. They too lived in fear of their lives and were at the mercy of an innkeeper in Bethlehem and the people they met in Egypt.
And this is the life that God chose to be born into. Why then and why in those circumstances? We don’t know, except that we sense it was fully intentional.
God, in His love, chose to be born into the desperation of human experience. He chose poverty and not splendour; He chose danger and not security; He chose to be born a long way from “home”. And all this in order to meet us – His people.
And God’s coming in Jesus was and is so obscure, so remote, so out of the way, that we easily miss Him. We easily forget that He has come, because we are so caught up with our own lives.
Jesus slipped into our world that Christmas and has done ever since. He comes to side with the poor, with the vulnerable, with those who live in fear and to demonstrate that God chooses to live in surprising places and especially with those whom others don’t want to think about.
The problems for many in the world today are so HUGE we can’t begin to imagine them, but the Christmas story challenges you and me to recognize that God’s love and God’s example calls us to respond to those who need our help this year.