By Julie Stewart
A theme that is common this time of year is ‘going home for Christmas.’ We sing about it and plan months in advance for the holiday. We all want to celebrate the birth of Christ with those we love the most. We want to gather for Christmas dinner, eat our favorite foods, give presents, share hugs, and most of all, love. We seek comfort in the familiar places where we know we belong.
At the same time, 21.3 million people are refugees in the world today. Stop and imagine for a moment, what do refugees seek? Many families are taking perilous journeys to flee war zones; journeys they hope will result in a safe place for them. They simply want to live their lives and be safe. It is not unlike the holy family fleeing death in Bethlehem and escaping to Egypt, not to return home until it was safe. At present, the average time of refugee displacement is 17 years. Think of how much they must long for home and the familiar.
As we go home for Christmas and celebrate the holy family and the birth of our Savior, may we pause and pray for refugees around the world.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, our hope and salvation, have mercy on those that are driven from their homelands and seek refuge elsewhere. Guide their steps as you did your holy family who fled the murderous rage of Herod, and keep them from every danger, evil and disaster as they flee from war, unrest, persecution and cruel injustice. You who declared that the foxes had dens but you had no place to lay your head, grant rest and succor to those who are weary, wounded and unprotected.
And to those cities and lands to which they travel, grant peace, wisdom, and compassion to receive those who come in great numbers and in great distress. Bless and multiply what they can provide as you multiplied the loaves and the fishes to feed multitudes, blessing those who give as well as those who receive. Enlarge them in bounty and spirit that they may be havens of rest and relief to those in need, that your hospitality may overcome the madness of evil men and chaos of natural disasters.
Forgive every transgression of those who are forced to leave their homes and have mercy also on those who receive them and offer them shelter, for you are good and the lover of mankind.
To you our gracious Lord and God, we ascribe glory, together with your father who is from everlasting and the all-holy, good and life-giving Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”
Julie Stewart is currently serving as an advocacy/government relations intern at World Vision and is writing for her Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies. Julie has lived in and loves the Middle East and 100 percent recommends trying Lebanese falafel and Druze salads. She and her husband Jonathan live in Northern Virginia.
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Photo: Sabri* and her family have been at Debaga Camp in Iraq for a month, sleeping in the playground and corridor of the school. She said: “Our lives have been very difficult, but the biggest difficulty has been for my children…At least they’re so young that they do not know what is happening. Now we are left trying to create new lives in tents.” *name has been changed for protection © 2016 World Vision/ photo by Chris Weeks