This Christmas I have been contemplating the world in which we live, a world in which most of us live somewhere other than where we were born. It is a world my parents found hard to understand. They never lived more than 50 miles from where they were born. With few exceptions, neither had any of their family. When their youngest son moved to England and then their granddaughter moved to Japan, they were at a loss to make sense of it. Bravely they visited several times, but only as visitors and always returning to familiar surroundings.
How different it is today. We live in a world of constant movement. Not only is the world around us changing at an incredible pace, people we know and love are on the move. Some move permanently and make a home in another land far, far away. Others seem to be always on the move.
We are surrounded by people who have fled wars, violence and persecution. Today we see people taking great risks to save their families, getting on unsafe boats at great cost and travelling in search of a welcoming land, often in vain.
Yet this movement of people is not new. The Bible tells the myths of the Patriarchs who were called out of their land in search of a promised place, of people being forcibly moved into exile and then finding their way out to continue the journey of hope and freedom. So it is no surprise that Jesus’ family also became refugees.
How is our faith affected by a Jesus more acquainted with poverty and fear than with the comfort and entitlement we now live with? What is our response to others who find themselves in the same place as Jesus?
It’s a big question.