Christmas and Immigration Reform: Can I Get a Witness?
Dec 18, 2009 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 1 Comments
The holidays are upon us—that time of year when we share “good tidings” and joyful gatherings with family and friends. For those of us who claim to follow Jesus, this season also is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. But, what does any of this have to do with immigration reform?
More than you might think. First of all, there are many in the immigrant community who at this Christmas time are without a loved one—a father or mother, a brother or sister. Some have been deported, and others sit in detention centers… families are divided, and for many children this Christmas will be a mixture of joy and sadness, eagerness to see whatever gifts they might receive and longing for the family to be whole again. In many instances, immigrant churches become like extended families. They gather together to share a Christmas meal and look out for each other at this most happy—and awkward—time. Christmas stands as a clarion call for reuniting families and giving people a second chance and hope… it is a call for immigration reform.
Second, the Christmas story is in part the tale of a baby boy born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem (Matt. 1; Lk. 2). But, it includes much more: the flight of the baby Jesus with his parents to Egypt to escape Herod’s bloody rampage (Matt. 2). The Savior, Mary, and Joseph leave that village and move for a time to Egypt as refugees. The original Christmas story, in other words, also is about migration to a foreign country just across the border. Jesus knows what it is like to live far from home, in a land whose culture was so different from his own. In him, those among us who have come from elsewhere find a fellow-traveler at Christmas.
How then do we read that larger Christmas story? Beyond celebrating the miraculous birth of the Redeemer, whose coming was foretold in the prophets, perhaps we should also ponder the Old Testament hope that Messiah would inaugurate a kingdom of material plenty and expansive peace and justice for all nations, for Israel… and for the sojourner. Christmas, you see, is a yearning for a different kind of world for all—native-born and immigrant alike. It is a call for immigration reform.
This Christmas, let us think of and pray for the sojourner. Let our vision of the Savior be expanded. Can I get a witness!?!