By: Rev. Pam McGrath
Will Christ be in Christmas this year? Will he make it to Egypt?
This Christmas, as every Christmas, we Christians will read about a family who were turned away: “No room for you here!” We feel with Joseph and Mary, who were about to have a child and yet were refused even a warm place to sleep. Like many of us, I would like to believe that, if I were in Bethlehem on that day, I’d say on behalf of my family, “Don’t sleep in the barn. Come in with us. It may be crowded here, but there’s always room for someone in need!”
This Christmas Day, though, a new executive order goes into effect in the United States, with this equivalent result: unless the Mayor of Bethlehem and the Governor of Judea have specifically agreed to accept them before Christmas Day, no new refugees will be allowed in any location in the country. (Just think, if the Governor of Egypt did the same, Jesus might not have survived Herod’s executive order!)
At Christmas we often see ourselves in the nativity story, but who would have thought we’d be siding with Herod and Rome?
Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I always hesitate to bring up politics as part of my role as pastor. Again and again, though, not just through the events of his birth but through his words and actions, Jesus tells us to care for “the least of these,” the poor, the despised, the refugee, the despairing.
This new executive order doesn’t just take effect on the very day we celebrate how an immigrant turned refugee was born and would, in a very real way, save the world. It won’t just prevent new, legal refugees with relatives in a “forbidden zone” from being reunited with their loved ones. No, it’s even worse than that: it shows how far we have come, from putting this part of Christ’s message into action.
You know the saying, “Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas!” I will be working to prevent this order and asking our city and state to not turn it’s back on those Jesus told me to support. That’s how I will put Christ back in Christmas!
You may disagree with me. That is the glory of our UCC way! But as UCC, we must always be asking ourselves, “What is Christ calling me to do? How can I be Christ’s hands and feet to bring healing to our broken world?”
When Christmas Day comes and we celebrate the miracle of mercy born into our world, I hope we can all say, “We’re not perfect examples of Christ’s teachings. But we will stand up for Christ’s people. There is room at the inn!”