Thought for the weekend: Jesus and the refugees
Over the past months, much media attention has been given to the "refugee crisis" in Europe. Recent statistics have suggested that more than a million people have fled to Europe during 2015.
While the refugees have come from various countries, the vast majority have left war-torn Syria and made the hazardous journey across the Mediterranean in the hope of finding a better life in one of our European states. In Matthew's Gospel, chapter two, we are reminded that Jesus himself spent some time as a refugee in another land.
After he was born in Bethlehem, he received a visit from "Wise Men from the East".
We don't know what age he was when the Wise Men came to see him, but it's possible that he was as old as two.
Certainly, by the time the eastern visitors arrived in Bethlehem Joseph and Mary had vacated the stable and had moved into a house. Indeed, as you look at the birth of Jesus, you can't help but notice that there was a lot of displacement - a lot of moving around - going on.
The initial journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was followed by the discomfort of the stable and the need to find some further temporary accommodation in Bethlehem. As soon as the Wise Men departed, Joseph was warned that for safety reasons he should uproot his family again and move to Egypt.
Now Jesus was to become a refugee - fleeing for his life to a "strange" land.
Jesus understands. That's the simple truth with which we are confronted as we consider his escape into Egypt.
He left the glory of heaven, was born of the virgin, took to himself humanity, entered into this sinful world and experienced the struggles and trials of life.
Even the trauma of displacement from one's own homeland is something which Jesus can empathise with. He understands.
Of course, he didn't just come into this world in order to understand the difficulties of life. No. His principal reason for coming was to save us from our sin. As the angel told Joseph: "You will call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
This salvation, this forgiveness, can be yours if you turn from your sin and trust in Jesus today.