The first thing I noticed as I entered the Refugee Camp in Slavonski Brod, Croatia less than three weeks ago was a big Christmas tree shining in the middle of the camp. It looked as a sign of hope in a place through which thousands of the world homeless journey, day and night, on their way to a hopefully better place and better future.
The second thing that made me think about the birth of Jesus every day in the refugee camp were the two shelters our ROM team was building. We were told that they would be used as the nursing places for the refugee mothers with babies during the cold and wet winter months. In a way they would be to the refugee mothers and refugee babies what the sheltering manger was to Mary and the baby Jesus on the cold and uninviting night in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born.
The third thing that made me reflect on Christmas was the picture of constant movement of refugees, families with children, young and old alike, through the camp and onto the trains to be taken further to Slovenia. They made me think of Joseph, Mary and Jesus forced to run away from their country after Herod had decided to kill the child. Those refugees are continuing to run for their lives away from their homelands in which the blood-thirsty warlords are seeking to destroy their lives.
And the forth thing that reflected the spirit of Christmas were the volunteers, full of enthusiasm, serving and blessing the refugees with warm clothes, hats, gloves, jackets, shoes, food and hot tea in the way the shepherds and the wise men of the East blessed the new born Jesus with their presence and gifts.
Yes, there is much that links the birth of Jesus with the fate of the millions of refugees and immigrants. In fact, singing “Silent Night, Holy Night” passionately at this time and indulging in many Christmas gifts without noticing or caring about the global movement of the millions of the world homeless make us hypocritical followers of Jesus only, who might be good Christians according to the standards of popular and convenient Christianity, but are profoundly disconnected with the heart of Jesus.
The same Jesus whom we romantically adore as a helpless baby later in His life said quite seriously, “Whatever you did for the list of those you did for me” (Matthew 25:40.). He meant a business because He said He would judge us on the basis of what we do about it.
Have a Merry Belated Christmas!