A Christmas Carol for Refugees

December 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm

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As we enter into the season of Advent our family has chosen to return to the Charles Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol for our bedtime reading. In many ways the story is so familiar that is scarcely needs any explanation. And yet, I have also found that the retelling (and retelling, and retelling) has also hidden some of the lesser-known gems imbedded in the original. One such example is found in an early dialogue between Ebenezer Scrooge and his nephew. After some particularly scroogey, humbuggery from Ebenezer about the total lack of benefits that come by way of the Holidays, his nephew responds-   

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew.  “Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time:

the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. 

And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

The notion that Christmas might be a time of year by which humanity opens their hearts to those they perceive to be “below them” struck me as particularly relevant amidst the global refugee crisis. While it is not a solution, a policy or even a reflection as such, it is a prayer. It is a hope that Christmas this year might bring with it a tangible reminder that the baby boy born in a manger some 2000 years ago, the newborn for which our holiday derives its very name, was himself a refugee.

May this central truth cause us to remember these refugees are “fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” The details of their stories may differ from our own in many ways, yet the primacy of our search for a home is a shared reality. May those of us who have already found their way back to the arms of the Father lead the way in extending these arms to the weary travelers among us.