Jesus was a refugee
Making the connection between the Christmas story and the ever present plight of refugees around the world - in the form of a new collection of cards. By Simon Cross
Jesus was a refugee.
It’s a thought that goes through my head quite a lot. It’s quite haunting actually.
In particular it goes through my head whenever I hear news stories about people fleeing their homes, trying to find refuge in a strange country. I think of it when I read about small boats trying to cross the channel. I think of it when I read of families walking across the Sahara.
Whenever I see, hear, or read those stories I’m immediately reminded of that short but iconic passage in Matthew chapter 2, where the holy family escape from the soldiers in the nick of time, taking refuge in Egypt until Herod dies.
There are nearly 80 million “displaced people” around the world today, and according to the United Nations, more than half of all the world’s refugees are children. That’s astonishing. And appalling.
Millions of children have had to flee from their homes, many to another country altogether. Forced out of their homes by war, or famine, or one of the many impacts of climate change perhaps. It’s an extraordinary number, one in every hundred people in the world.
I credit the Baptist church I grew up in with awakening me to the social dimension of the gospel. It was there that we talked about the responsibility of Christians to not stand idly by while people suffered around the world. It was there too that we were encouraged to be creative, and to use our gifts and imaginations while engaging in the work of the church.
Earlier this year I was thinking ahead to Christmas, and wondering how I could help others to make the connection between the Christmas story and the ever present plight of refugees around the world. I was feeling a bit fed up about the way that Christmas is so often simply presented as a cutesy story about little donkeys and cosy stables, and I wanted to remind people of the way the refugee story that sits at the heart of the narrative.
So I commissioned four amazing artists to produce compelling imagery which would help me do the job. They jumped at the chance, delivering four very individual designs for me to turn into Christmas cards. Profits from the cards will go straight to refugee charities, supporting vulnerable children who find themselves displaced, a long way from home.
It’s a small gesture. It won’t solve the problem, but it might just help a little. And it will help us all to remember a simple truth.
Jesus was a refugee.
Simon Cross is a writer, researcher, journalist and activist who lives and works in Grimsby, UK. He set up and ran the UK's first ever official 'Heavy Metal Carol Services' and is always developing projects which seek to push at the boundaries between sacred and secular.
Find out more about Refugee Christmas here.
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