From December 2 - 18, immigration advocates will make a 2200-mile Journey for Justice, a 16-day border pilgrimage being spearheaded by Witness at the Border. Advocates will travel in honor and remembrance of the lives of all migrants and asylum seekers who have suffered and even perished at the US-Mexico border. The journey includes stops at key border towns to show a sign of solidarity and spend the day helping those in need. It also represents the Mexican tradition of pidiendo posada, seeking shelter among strangers. The event culminates on Sunday, December 18, International Migrants Day. Bring a teaching moment to your congregation’s children with a Children’s Christmas Journey for Justice.
As we know, Mary and Joseph were similar to migrants themselves as they were forced to journey to Bethlehem and then flee to Egypt. They may have experienced some of the same hardships during their trip as today’s migrants and asylum seekers do - hunger, lack of sleep, and lack of safe places to stay. We see entire families forced to set out and who do not choose to go but are driven from their land and leave behind loved ones.
For your Children’s Story, introduce the story of the Holy Family in this way.
Who can tell me where Jesus was born?
- Children: in Bethlehem, in a stable…
Do you remember why he was born in a stable?
- Children: there was no room at the inn.
Yes, but why were his parents looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem?
- [see if any of the children know that Mary and Joseph had to leave Nazareth because the occupying forces made them]
- Share: that Mary and Joseph had to leave their home in Nazareth because the government made them return to where Joseph was from- Bethlehem. They were refugees.
Do you think it was easy for Mary to travel while she was so pregnant? How do you think they felt?
- Give a chance to hear some feeling words.
Share: There are refugees, also called migrants, today who have to leave their homes for a lot of reasons. They probably share some of the emotions that Mary and Joseph felt (repeat some that were shared). Today is International Migrants Day, where we remember that there are people who are forced to leave their home.
- Next, ask the children to either take out their shoelaces or remove one shoe. Explain that families at the border, which include many children like themselves, have their shoelaces taken from them before they are allowed to enter our country.
- Have the children walk around the church to experience how hard it can be to walk without shoes that fit properly and how their ability to walk changes, and even how they look to others. Their gait changes and they may appear disabled or hurt to others. (If they do not have laced shoes, suggest just removing one shoe for the exercise.)
- Have them return to the front of the church and share how it felt to walk without the laces or with only one shoe.
End with a prayer for migrants and the Holy Family as we enter Christmas Week.
- (suggested prayer)
Jesus, friend and brother, You and your parents know how it feels to leave your home and family, to carry nothing with you, to travel as a stranger. Help all refugees and immigrants far from home, driven out by war and hunger. Lead them safely on. They are our sisters and brothers. Help us to show our love and a true welcome. Amen.