THE BLOG

2016: A Resolution for the Refugees?

05/01/2016 09:03 GMT | Updated 04/01/2017 10:12 GMT

On Sunday an 'unnamed toddler' became the first casualty of the refugee crisis in 2016.

Amongst the woozy hangover from a merry old Christmas, a child - dead.

Maybe while the music was playing, the crackers were pulled and the booze was drunk, we forgot. Forgot that the refugee crisis did not just stop over Christmas.

While we sung and were merry, we forgot that thousands of people risked everything they have to get towards an often unknown destination and an even less known and less certain reception.

Men, women and children sat in rubber dinghies, whilst you and I watched Downton Abbey. Little more secure than the kind you played in as a child at the seaside, in freezing temperatures across an unforgiving ocean.

Who was that toddler? What life was ahead of him? What sheer desperation and terror must it have taken for his parents to feel that risking their baby's life was better that staying at home? I'm almost certain Father Christmas didn't visit them this Christmas.

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When I think about this crisis, I can't help but remember the 'real' Christmas story. However disfigured by tradition and trappings the festive season may be now, it is the story where it all began.

Mary and Joseph, a displaced family in desperate need of emergency shelter. Despite Mary being heavily pregnant, with much to lose, uncertain of what destination or welcome they could expect, they made the perilous journey. How many Mary and Josephs trekked across Europe this Christmas?

In the Christmas story, they are shown humanity.

Not initially. First they meet hostility, ignorance. The 'no rooms at the inn' sounds disturbingly like so many Britons who are argue 'we can't afford to take more people', 'we need to look after ourselves first'.

But then some generosity. Despite being full to capacity, one innkeeper, thinks a little outside the box, and offers the poor couple the best he can provide. It's not ideal, but it's safe and dry.

So you see, rather than being a period to forget that there are things in this world as horrific as the refugee crisis, the Christmas story, a story of love, joy and hope, is itself about a refugee crisis - and how we respond to it.

The generosity and goodwill people go on about at Christmas, is not just for greeting cards. It should be a reminder of the kindness that is possible amongst us humans - our capacity for loving others, as God so loved the world that he sent his only son, born in a stable.

The infant that drowned as we heralded in the New Year, he is a reminder. Lest we not forget that there is more to Christmas than mistletoe and wine.

So amongst the diets, the detoxes, and promises to cut spending, I urge all of us to consider this crisis as we make our New Year's resolutions. There are so many ways we can help: refugee-action.org.uk is full of wonderful ideas. Beyond the typical avenues of signing petitions and donating, you could write a message of welcome to a newly arrived refugee, or even help welcome a family yourself.

Like the innkeeper with a small inn and a lot of guests, Britain is a small country for sure - with a lot of people, but still, the innkeeper found room for the couple in need. And what joy ensued: the real meaning of Christmas.

Let this be the year that we do the same.

photo: flickr.com