1.  Christmas is a perfect time to reflect on the gift of Jesus to all the world, and to pray humbly (both privately and collectively) for God’s help in knowing how to reflect God-With-Us in all of our thoughts and interactions.  As we join in Advent celebrations, we can think and talk about how Jesus demonstrated God’s love…. as a person who was a refugee himself, and who chose to identify himself with “the stranger” of Matthew 25. Remember that the best “action step” is one that prepares our own hearts and minds to partner with individuals and families in ways that are dignity-giving and inclusive.

2.  If you like to share cookies or other goodies with friends or neighbors, feel free to include folks from diverse backgrounds in your cookie deliveries! You can explain that sharing food with friends and families is one of the ways you celebrate. If this leads to mutual conversations of learning about each other’s holidays and festivals, it’s a beautiful way to build dignity-giving friendships in which everyone learns together.

3.  When you attend special holiday events at school, church, or in the community, take time to look around and notice if there are folks who seem “on the outside” due to language diversity or just being new and not knowing people. Many life-long friendships have begun at such events, when someone takes time to introduce themselves and start a conversation.

4. Year-end contributions would be welcomed by local resettlement agencies or global organizations that are addressing the needs of the world’s 65.6 million forcibly displaced people.

5. When teaching our children about the coming of Christ, we can share with them that Jesus was displaced and had to flee his home as a young child with his parents. We can explain that this is why it’s important for us to include and honor all people, including those who come from other lands. A good verse to share or memorize is Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

6. Give and receive hospitality. Hospitality means welcoming people into your presence and life, and allowing them to do the same for you. Look for opportunities to share around your own table and also to accept the hospitality offered to you by others. Sometimes the best gift we can give is the gift of receiving what someone has to offer. Everyone needs to know that their contributions are valued and appreciated.

–Traci Harrod