Recently I heard someone mention the fact that when Jesus was just a toddler, he and his family had to flee to Egypt to escape the murderous anger of King Herod. The question rises, “Was Jesus a refugee?”
The following is the United Nations’ definition of a refugee:
“A person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality …”
In his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey wrote:
Scarcely a day passed, in fact, without an execution under Herod’s regime. Citizens could not gather in public meetings. Spies were everywhere. In Herod’s mind, the command to slaughter Bethlehem’s infants was probably an act of utmost rationality… And so, Jesus the Christ entered the world amid strife and terror, and spent his infancy hidden in Egypt as a refugee.
It sounds so contemporary. Jesus’ flight into Egypt was marked by fear, stress, anxiety and helplessness, this type of existence often led to Post Traumatic Stress (and still does).
It doesn’t seem conducive to hope. And yet, this was the world into which Christ, our saviour was born. Against all odds Jesus lived and proclaimed freedom, human dignity, and salvation for the marginalized and downtrodden. In such circumstances of hopelessness God often does his best work.
Is it possible to continue to hope despite all the anger, hatred, and racism? This is our challenge. Along with the difficulty of a world marked with division and unrest, many of us are stressed over COVID-19 and the threat of the latest variant.
In Matthew’s account Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt for safety. Likewise, when it was safe to return Joseph received a dream; “Get up, the angel said. Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel…” God had not forgotten them! God has not forgotten you! Take heart!
Warm greetings to you and your church family from our President, Mr. Doug McLeod, and the Council of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. From myself and the CBAC Staff, thanks for your partnership in this ministry.
Finally, let me add my prayer—that you will experience the hope and joy of Christ this Advent season.
Rev. Dr. Peter Reid
Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada