It seems to me that there’s a part of the story of Jesus’ birth that we seldom dwell on, and we’d like to help your community enter into it.
If you’re willing.
A few weeks ago I participated in a conversation that gave rise to the thought that when Herod ordered the mass killing of the boy’s under two Mary, Joseph and Jesus wouldn’t have been the only family who tried to escape the genocide. They couldn’t have been the only ones who got word and tried to get out of town as fast as they could, parents, mothers, fathers and children, many of them would have grabbed what they could and have tried to make it as far out of the reach of Herod as they could. The thought that there’d be this kind of event without such a response is ludicrous, what would you have done?
The image of a sea of donkeys, all carrying mothers with children came to mind, all of them escaping to Egypt or beyond… anywhere they could to escape this evil act. And I wondered how the leaders of Egypt would have reacted to such a surge of refugees, all seeking to escape an evil leader who was killing their children in a jealous fit of rage.
Would they have responded in a similar way to our political leaders who seem to have a unnatural fear of boats carrying asylum seekers onto our shore (remember this?)?
Or, would they have responded differently and opened their arms?
And if they responded similarly what would their political catch phrase be?
What about “Stop The Donkeys”?
And another question to throw into the mix, who are we in the story? Are we parents fleeing for the life of our children, are we the children, are we the soldiers following orders, are we community members who help sneak the children out of town and hide them from the evil that is seeking them out, or are we people of Egypt? And if we’re people in Egypt are we welcoming or refusing the acceptance of these families seeking our hospitality?
What we’ve created is a list of resources that we hope will grow over the coming weeks to help your congregations enter out of Advent and into Epiphany and to delve into this question. You’ll find that there is definitely a political lean here, but one that comes to us out of a biblical narrative that is at the heart of who we are as people of faith which tells us that after Jesus was born Herod ordered the killing of all the male children under two and that Mary and Joseph were warned to get out with the baby and escape to egypt where they lived for many years.
This idea is here for you to poach, steal, use, borrow…
And we’d love to invite you to add to the resources if you’re able, just shoot me an email.
Here are a few images that you can use over advent, have them pop up around the space and build some anticipation around the community, buy some stickers and put them on cars, capture people’s imagination. One worship idea is to create a sea of donkeys with messages of hospitality to those who seek our generosity and love, or perhaps your community would like to create a sea of donkeys outside your church and invite your community to write letters to our government? Imagine your local member’s face when they receive 100 donkeys in the post…
Let us know what you choose to do with the images…
- No Donkeys Allowed: jpg file or purchase stickers or shirts at RedBubble.com
- Stop The Donkeys 01: jpg file or purchase stickers or shirts at RedBubble.com
- Stop The Donkeys 02: jpg file or purchase stickers or shirts at RedBubble.com
- Age at MorePraxis has created his own image and sticker: jpg file or purchase stickers or shirts at RedBubble.com
- Flight to Egypt by He Qi: Flight to Egypt
- Stop the Donkeys via Crosslight Magazine
Narratives / Reflections:
Here are a couple of reflections to help you enter into the story of the flight to Egypt, once again feel free to use, rewrite, bounce off of or add to these if you’d like.
- RefuJesus, the babe that sought safety from a king that wanted him dead. (download as pdf file)
- What If? (download as pdf)
- Christmas Silence (download as pdf)
- Poem: Mary’s Question by Alan Stanford
- Poem: Somebody Stole My Christmas (pdf file)
- Liturgy: God Became Human (pdf file)
- Liturgy: The Down Side of Christmas (pdf file)
- Call To Worship: Christmas Letter 2002 (pdf file)
- Poem The Flight To Egypt by Godfrey Rust (pdf file)
- Poem “Herod’s Last Request” by Godfrey Rust
- Prayer And the Government Shall Be Upon His Shoulder (by Roddy Hamilton)
- Commentary: Let Them All Come by FirstDog
- Commentary: Leunig – If I Were a Refugee
- Commentary: Border worship has produced an inhumane people trade by Elenie Poulos
Resources Exploring Refugee Issues:
- NCCA Resource from Christmas Bowl 2010 – Me As A Refugee (this is a great resource for helping people to put themselves in the shoes of refugees)
- The Heart of a Stranger – Ben Thurley (pdf file, thanks to Ben Thurley and TEAR Australia for allowing us to use this)
- The Edmund Rice Centre has created a free publication Asylum Seekers and Refugees Education Resource for Students & Schools (pdf)
- Refugee Council Advocacy Kit
- Australian Catholic Migrant & Refugee Centre Refugee Kits
- Uniting Justice Advocacy Brief on Children in Detention
- Uniting Justice Resource for National Refugee Week 2014