Refugees

A Refuge for the Oppressed: Psalm 9

Tomorrow, being the 2nd Sunday of Christmas (yes, Christmas is a season, not a day) one of the Gospel choices is from Matthew. It’s about the Holy Family being refugees in Egypt. Not a sweet image like a babe in a manger, nor of a mother keeping all she has seen and heard in her heart. It’s not as horrific as Herod’s decree of the murder of the Innocents, the baby boys in Bethlehem. Still, it’s about a displaced family, leaving anything familiar to travel to an unknown place, an unknown country where their ancestors were enslaved. Must have been frightening. The 9th verse of Psalm 9 reads thus: ‘The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in time of trouble.’ The little family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus as refugees is a somewhat familiar image in our 21st century. There are literally millions of refugees in the world, many in our country, running away from disaster, from potential murder, seeking asylum from what they know is more than they can possibly bear, especially with children in their arms. And even though Psalm 9 states The Lord is a refuge, we need to be a refuge as well. If there are families in our various communities, who is giving them shelter? Who is building them a house they can call their own? Who is feeding them every day, not only at Thanksgiving, or Christmas or even Easter? As people of God, people reading Scripture, we need to take this Psalm seriously. Maybe we ourselves do not have a house to give. But we know organizations that can do that. Maybe we don’t have enough food to feed an extra community, but we know local organizations taking food donations. The last half of the 12th verse of Psalm 9 reads like this: ‘…he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.’ Neither should we.

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