Submitted by the Immigration and Refugee Task Team
The Christmas season has ended, but the Christmas story has not. If we imagine that the Magi indeed did visit the Holy Family on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany, then is today the day that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt? Is this the day that they quickly packed their meager belongings and fled to the safety of a foreign land? Is this the day that the cries were heard in Ramah? Our reading of the holy family’s escape to Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15 is very brief. We know little of their escape and nothing of their reception. We do not know where they settled in Egypt or how they survived when they were there. We are left to our own imagination.
But our imagination is not uninformed, we do know that the life of a refugee is not easy. We know that many refugees leave their home with almost nothing. We know that they are often cut off from family, friends, and support. We know that they often struggle with new languages and new customs. We know that often their education is not recognized and that even their basic ability to care for their families are compromised by rules in a new land. We know that to make it on your own as a refugee is almost an impossibility and that, in fact, it is beneficial to have a network to help and support you. Scripturally, we don’t know that Mary and Joseph had such support, but today, in our country and in our state, we can assure refugees are offered support.
In December, the Immigration and Refugee Task Team put out a call for toiletries to help refugee families that are being settled in Massachusetts. Fortunately, the First Church of Christ in Longmeadow heard this call and responded (see the picture here of their collection). They gathered items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to supply to the Ascentria Care Alliance which is one of several agencies in Massachusetts that are tasked with supporting refugee families as they resettle. These items not only offer those that are resettling critical basic items, they also offer the message of welcome and care that we can only hope that Jesus and his parents received as they escaped to Egypt. If your church is interested in offering a welcome of toiletries to refugees that are being resettled in our state, please contact Dawn Adams and she will connect you with representative from the Ascentria Care Alliance.
NOTE: In our original article, it was noted that donations would be going to Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester. Ascentria actually has several locations throughout the state. First Church of Christ offered their donations to the Westfield office.