The photograph is awful to look at. So much so that I waffled on whether it is right or good to share it. A little Syrian boy, almost certainly around the ages of my two daughters, washed up on a Turkish beach. The story is important and can be read here.
The photograph is far less gruesome than many we are shown in media today. It carries, though, far more weight than may others. It encapsulates the desperation, the helplessness, the vulnerability of those fleeing as refugees from war and terror. It hit me hard because I saw the photo and story just after I had wished my youngest a happy 4th birthday.
The world is rightly upset by photos like these. And all people – I hope! – can work to find a solution for the present crisis. The People of God can and should share in this common human concern. Christians, however, have a unique concern and opportunity.
Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you… (Matthew 2:13) So said the angel to Joseph and thus the Lord and his family became refugees, displaced people fleeing violence. There’s literally millions of concerns that we can have in the world, sometimes it is overwhelming but the Lord never wants us to forget that we’re to care about, and pray for, what is going on in the world. God cares about displaced and fleeing people. They are amongst the most vulnerable. Old Testament law is rife with calls to care for and treat justly refugees. Here’s some good commentary on that sort of thing. But perhaps most poignantly we can remember that Jesus, as a little boy, was a refugee himself. A little boy just like that one washed up on the beach.
So we ought to let pictures like this hit us. This despite that we are awash with images these days. We ought to join with our secular, Muslim, and other neighbours in common concern. And we need to pray. It is good to pray out of our own spontaneous hearts but if we need some help, here’s some:
Almighty and merciful God,
whose Son became a refugee
and had no place to call his own;
look with mercy on those who today
are fleeing from danger,
homeless and hungry.
Bless those who work to bring them relief;
inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts;
and guide the nations of the world towards that day
when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.