They’re arriving on our shores. In small boats and dinghies immigrants have been crossing the English channel in recent weeks and arriving in the UK; many of them started their journey in Iran. On the final leg of their journey, some are picked up by French and British immigration forces who are working hard to stop the flow, but perhaps others lose their lives in the attempt. What makes them undertake such a long and dangerous journey across land and sea? What encourages them to often spend all that they possess into order to escape their homeland to come to this country? Is it the lure of a British accent, cricket and warm beer? I think not. I imagine it must take much heart-searching and unbearable pressures in their place they once called home in order to leave it all behind.
I think they must be desperate for something better.
As we commence Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, we should be aware that we will encounter many desperate immigrants longing not to be sent home, but to be welcomed to a new home. I speak not of people from other countries (though they may be) but more probably your family, friends and neighbours who are fleeing the pressures of the world looking for something better. We who know Jesus have that something better, a loving Saviour, an eternal home, that welcoming Father. If we are not prepared to seek out the seekers and the travellers then we are just like immigration forces whose mission is to stop these journeys, or to send them back where they came from.
And let us also remember that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were also once immigrants. They had to flee their homeland heading into Egypt because their lives were in danger. It was an angel who conveyed the news to Joseph saying in a dream
‘Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ (Matthew ch2 v13)
Jesus and his earthly family were fleeing the risk of death, seeking the welcome of strangers, reliving the history of God’s people. Imagine if they had been turned away at the border and sent home – it could have all turned out so differently.
So let us take every opportunity in this Christmas season, with all the special services and events to invite the immigrants from the world hoping that they may escape the challenges of a life far from God and instead find the one they are looking for.