By Bill Mefford, photo by Steve Pavey, www.stevepavey.com
Each year at Christmas when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus it is always interesting to me to see how nice and safe we tend to think of the time in a barn, two thousand years ago, when Jesus was born. We make it almost cozy, like Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas album. We seem to forget what a violent world he was born into. Shortly after his birth, when according to the gospel of Matthew, international travelers, otherwise known as Wise Men, came from the East to pay homage to Jesus. When hearing of their presence King Herod went berserk, like seriously nuts. Though by this time Jesus’ family had fled to the safety of Egypt – like so many refugees throughout history and still today. Herod, sensing a challenge to his rule from a baby of all things, ordered an infanticide in and around Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:1-8)
Perhaps it was because of being born into such horrific violence later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus forever identified himself as one who is constantly being targeted for violence; one of the world’s most vulnerable people. As a baby Jesus and his family were refugees to Egypt. Today, Jesus is a refugee from Syria.
And though no one in the United States is calling for an all-out infanticide of Syrian refugees the voices of far too many in positions of power in this country and those shamelessly seeking positions of power are demonizing Syrian refugees no less than how Herod dehumanized the children in Bethlehem. Donald Trump's lies and pledge to tell Syrian refugee children to their faces to get out of the United States is inhumane.
Though the current system of vetting refugees entering the United States is already “extreme” with public safety being the paramount concern for government officials, the issue of welcoming in people fleeing persecution and violence has become a political football for those who want to pursue their own political ends at the expense of human life. Outside of resettlement, millions of Syrians will die of hunger or violence inside their country, or be forced to live in precarious limbo for years in countries already over-burdened to care for them.
As the angel of the Lord advocated for Joseph to take his family to Egypt, so we too must be the angels of today: making our voices heard above the loud roar of racist demagogues like Donald Trump and his willing supporters in the Republican, and even at times, the Democratic Party. We cannot be comforted by our supposedly liberal conscience and just sit back and wait to see who wins the election in November. We must shift the winds of public and political opinion now.
So, I urge you to do three things today. This is found on our Take Action page and I sent an action alert out to folks who part of the Fig Tree Revolution (which you can join by filling out the form below!).
Let’s do these today:
1) You can this sign this postcard and tell the US government that we should welcome Syrian refugees. You can also print the postcard out and urge your friends, family, and folks in your networks to fill it out and then mail them all in by Monday, September 12. Throw a Refugee Postcard Party!
2) Call both your Senators and your Representative TODAY and urge them to approve adequate funding to settle 100,000 Syrian refugees in addition to the 100,000 refugees from other parts of the world we need to for this upcoming year. Below is the sample script and the numbers to call. Remember to call BOTH of your Senators and your Representative:
1-866-940-2439 - Representative
1-866-961-4293 - Senators
Here’s what you can say:
“I support refugee resettlement and want to see the U.S. resettle more refugees. I urge Congress to increase funding for refugee assistance internationally and refugee resettlement in the U.S."
3) Share this post widely and urge your friends, families, and folks in your networks to join the Fig Tree Revolution as we seek to ensure safety and welcome for all immigrants and refugees!
You can also tweet your Senators and Representatives, as well as the White House:
“.@SENATOR/REPRESENTATIVE, show that #AmericaWelcomes by supporting increased funds to resettle #refugees! #RefugeesWelcome #RCUSAfor200K”
".@WhiteHouse Stop detaining & deporting Central American kids & families who need PROTECTION. #RefugeesWelcome"
Let’s not shake our heads at the voices of hate and walk away. Let’s build a movement powerful enough to defend the most vulnerable simply because Jesus is a Syrian refugee. This is what revolutions are all about.