December 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Julie Blum   

 If you are anything like me, over the years you have heard numerous Christmas sermons, devotions and read many articles about Mary and Joseph seeking refuge in Bethlehem, specifically about not finding any room at the Inn.  They were turned away and ultimately had to give birth to Jesus in a lowly stable.  Later they again had to seek shelter in Egypt.  Many of these sermons, articles, and devotionals use these account as a jumping off place to speak of how WE welcome Jesus and the holy family into our hearts during the Christmas season.  Do we, they ask, make room for the baby Jesus in our life?  Do we, they challenge, open our hearts to Jesus during this time of year?  The point is to encourage us to open our hearts and welcome Jesus in.  This is a wonderful and apt interruption of the Christmas story.  But it also is a spiritual one.  There are other ways to apply this account to our lives... 

 ...Another way of reading this story is to think about how it prompts us to act toward others.  Do we make literal room for those seeking shelter?  Do we open our lives to refugees and others without a home?  And when I say “lives” I mean our hearts but I also mean our wallets, our minds and our literal spaces.  There has been much about refugees in the news of late.  Not since World War II have there been so many refugees adrift without a home land.  The crisis and need is great.  How are we to respond? 

For Christians, God’s call is clear.  Throughout the bible God reminds us time and time again to welcome the stranger. One example is found in the book of Deuteronomy (10: 16-19) where God says, Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service have written this beautiful litany below.  As we enter into the season of Advent and Christmas may this prayer be our own.

May God go with you, Pastor Julie Blum

 

Leader: Mighty Lord, as you guided the Israelites, through the wilderness,

People: be a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day for refugees in search of new hope and new life.

Leader: As you brought the Israelites out of bondage to freedom,

People: bring refugees out of persecution to safety.

Leader: As you protected the Israelites through 40 years in the desert,

People: protect those who languish for years in refugee camps.

Leaders: Wipe away their tears of sorrow,

People: that their mourning may give way to joyous hope.

Leader: Put an end to warfare and tyranny,

People: that some may return home without fear of violence.

Leader: Open the doors of safer nations,

People: that some may find new homes in new lands.

Leader: Rebuild their lives,

People: that they might enjoy the fruit of labors in peace.

Leader: Revive their hope,

People: that they might face a future with promise.

Leader: Shine your grace upon them,

People: that they might know your love.

Leader: Strengthen their bonds of friendship and family,

People: that we might serve one another with encouraging love.

Leader: Bless our nation with a spirit of openness,

People: that our communities and country may be renewed and strengthened by newcomers.

Leader: And inspire your churches to welcome the stranger,

People: that together we might build communities of hope where strangers become neighbors and friends, and brothers and sisters. Amen.

 
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