Holy Refugees

By Kent French
January 5, 2018 - 6:00am

This Sunday we'll look at the second chapter of Matthew, and re-tell the story of the Magi (wise ones) coming to visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus and bringing their well-known gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We like this story. We tell it on Christmas Eve. We re-enact it in our Christmas pageant. We sing "We Three Kings." This part of the story is sweet and slightly weird and exotic.

At verse 13, however, it takes a dark turn. You probably know about it. We learn that King Herod, in his power-hungry paranoia, puts out an edict to kill all of the children in the Bethlehem region who are two years old or under. This is known in Christian legend as The Slaughter of the Innocents. Joseph doesn't know about this from the news, but he has a dream to get the hell out of Dodge and take the family to Egypt. And as we've seen earlier about Joseph, he may not say a lot, but he pays attention to his dreams. If he hadn't, we wouldn't still be talking about him or Jesus today.

And in an instant, Jesus, Mary and Joseph become refugees, immigrants.

I like this chapter a lot. Mainly, because it shows that the young family had problems. Everyday, human problems. In this case, their problem is a part of a larger political problem, much like the 65 or so million displaced people all over the world, currently about 8-9% of the world population.

Over the past year or so, many churches across the nation have put up a banner on their lawn that says, "Immigrants and Refugees Welcome" with an image of the Holy Family making their way. You can see it here

We're going to talk about the Holy Family as refugees on Sunday morning and how that relates to the current crisis. If Jesus told us later in Matthew that whenever we help the least of these who are members of the human family, we are helping him (Matthew 25:40), what does that mean for helping the Holy Family today?

I also encourage all of us to learn more about what we and United Parish can do locally. Check out the following links (embedded).

Get to know some of the facts from MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition)

Learn about and pray for the Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition.

Support the Safe Communities Act, sponsored by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition), and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).

Check out Centro Presente, and their work in helping local immigrants.

Learn about what some of our interfaith partners are doing to help refugees at Jewish Family Services of MetroWest.

As always, we will pray together on Sunday. Pray for how to center ourselves in God's love and ask for guidance about how that love compels us into action.

Happy Epiphany!


Image credit: "Flight into Egypt" by John August Swanson http://www.johnaugustswanson.com/