This Christmas we might recall that Jesus was a refugee

Trumpism is on the rise, but we have love and hope on our side


As the year draws to a close, the terrorist attack on the Christmas market in Berlin has ignited a debate which now divides Germany, namely how open it should be to receiving refugees and immigrants.

It speaks to one of the underlying and sickening themes of 2016, namely a growing fear of others.

During the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage memorably stood in front of that now infamous poster, depicting migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015 with the headline ‘breaking point’.

Just hours later Jo Cox MP had been murdered on the streets of her Batley and Spen constituency  by Thomas Mair, who yelled ‘Britain First’ as he committed the barbaric act.

In the United States, Donald Trump’s victory in the Presidential election was a sad victory for the tensions he created, warning of the dangers that the rest of the world posed to American jobs and security.

In the clearest sign of his efforts to keep out the rest of the world he was elected on a pledge to build a physical wall between America and Mexico.

In France, which next year holds its own Presidential election, the rise of the Front National has led more moderate candidates to toughen their stance on immigration.

And in what is perhaps one of the more graphic signs of the fears being stoked, following the recent attack in Berlin, the Dutch right-wing leader, Geert Wilders, tweeted a mocked up photo of Angela Merkel with blood on her hands.

The sense of worry, fear and anxiety has become palpable.

Yet the irony is that as we enter this Christmas period, we will be celebrating the birth and life of a refugee.

Jesus’s life was one lived in the face of rejection. His birth, in a stable, came about as a result of there being no room anywhere else.

Mary, Joseph and Jesus’s fleeing to Egypt was a response to the persecution promised by King Herod.

And as he lived his life, Jesus did so in the face of many who mocked and attacked him, paying the ultimate price on the cross.

Yet for all the persecution and hostility towards him, Jesus, who to many was a stranger to be feared, lived a life not of anger at this treatment, but of hope and love.

He called on us all to love our neighbours as ourselves; he lived a life of humility and service; and he forgave those who sinned.

As we sit around our Christmas tables this weekend, it will provide an opportunity for us to all consider the year ahead. We can go on living lives of fear out of a sense that things are out of control.

Or we could follow Jesus’s example, living lives of love, service and forgiveness, and work towards the wiping away of every tear.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.