The Lord of Displaced Persons
It is too easy to forget them, especially when the world is awash in images of Christmas joy and festivity. We turn from the anguished faces on the newspaper page or the whispered stories we have heard—thirdhand—from “over there.” Hungry for our annual merriment, we look away when their eyes seem too pleading, too insistent, too abandoned.
They are the refugees—by latest count, an estimated 62 million people around the globe—a number equal to almost 1 percent of the world’s population. Their single common denominator is no link of race, ethnicity, age, or economic status: it is, instead, that they have been displaced—by war, by famine, by economic turmoil, by natural disasters, by ideologies bent on hate or “purity.” In an era when mobility is so much prized, they have too much of it. “Home” is always some other place—back there—a day away, a week ago, behind some strands of wire.
We, the ninety and nine who safely lie in the shelter of the fold, do well to remember them as we end another year. We may have little or much, be well-fed or lean, but we at least have “home.” Whether they know Him or own Him, the Bible reminds us that the displaced of this world are the special concern of Jesus. His parents were forced to flee with Him before He was many weeks old. He had, He said, “nowhere to lay His head,” except, perhaps, on the borrowed cushion of a storm-tossed boat. And the peace He wants to bring to those of good will He seeks to give soonest to the “little ones” who have almost never had it.
Somewhere nearby, within a kilometer or a mile of where you live, someone camps beneath a bridge, huddles in a soggy tent, waits for that day when what they think of as luck will turn. Seek them out this Christmas, in the name of the Lord of Displaced Persons, to offer them what He would surely give—a warm meal, a cool drink, a needed embrace. In so doing, you appropriately commemorate the birth of the Lord who offers Himself as the refuge of the homeless and the lost.
— Bill Knott