Who is Welcome this Christmas?8 Nov 2015 By Nikki Groarke
Archdeacon Nikki's article for Dec/ Jan parish magazines.
There was no-room for the refugee family. Everywhere was full to overflowing. The last inn they tried was packed, so they had to make do with a shed, camping out, making a home as best they could, finding somewhere dry at least, so the baby could be born under the shelter of a barn roof.
No room for the refugees. It’s been an ongoing theme of our news cycle this year as the plight of families fleeing Syria has worsened. We have witnessed millions of people fleeing war and violence in what has become one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded. And it has been the pictures of child refugees which have most impacted us.
Jesus, as a child, was a refugee, unwelcome and homeless. No wonder then that as he grew up and began his earthly ministry, he called outcasts friends, invited those on the edges to come closer. Many of those who were comfortable and settled continued to reject him, or simply missed the opportunity to welcome him into their homes, their lives, because they did not grasp who he was.
We easily sanitise our recounting of the birth of Jesus as we celebrate Christmas. The stable becomes a homely scene, softly lit, populated with wise men, shepherds and cute donkeys. We forget it was a last resort: a dirty shed occupied because young refugee parents were shut out of all the more suitable accommodation. Let’s allow ourselves to engage with this part of the story differently this time, perhaps allowing ourselves to consider whether we would have welcomed a refuge family into our homes then, and whether we would now.
Let’s also reflect this Christmas on whether we are really ready to welcome Jesus into our homes, our lives, not just at Christmas, as a baby, but the rest of the year, as our Lord and Saviour, and one who invites us to love and welcome those who are outcasts, as he loves and welcomes us.