The Refugees

Two Jewish men chatI found drama to be an effective way to proclaim the modern Christian narrative. The following is a dialogue sermon I prepared for Christmas Eve during a period when the federal government was speaking against accepting refugees from wars we waged. It would work just as well in our time as the government has taken a much more indecent position.


KARHIM: (angrily) I live here too, you know. I have something to say about all this.

HASHNI: (begging for understanding) I know, I know.

KARHIM: You can’t just bring these strangers into our house without asking me.

HASHNI: That is exactly what I am doing: asking your permission.

KARHIM: Not really. What can I say? You have them out in the courtyard already.

HASHNI: I guess I felt you’d agree with me.

KARHIM: Well, I don’t. I’ve had enough of this refugee crowd!

HASHNI: Karhim, refugees are a sad but real part of our world. All over people are being made homeless by the whims of the powerful.

KARHIM: That doesn’t mean that we can solve all their problems. Other people are going to have to do their part.

HASHNI: But these people are here now knocking at our door. You know we can’t turn them away. Come on, we both know that underneath all that ugliness is a heart of gold.

KARHIM: (showing warmness) That’s not fair….I do have reservations……What are their names?

HASHNI: The man is Joseph and the woman Mary.

KARHIM: And how did they get here?

HASHNI: They come from Judea, Joseph says they are afraid that the dictator Herod is out to kill them.

KARHIM: What did he do? How do you know he’s not a criminal?

HASHNI: I don’t. We just have to take his word. But he hardly seems the criminal type, and you know Herod murders whenever he feels someone threatens his power.

KARHIM: All right, let’s assume he’s not a criminal but an innocent patriot who has aroused Herod’s hostility. Why then doesn’t he stay and fight the tyrant? Seems to me people loyal to their nation would stay and fight. Perhaps then someday their people would have what we have now.

HASHNI: There is also a child….under two years old. Maybe they are in no position to fight right now.

KARHIM: (anger again) There is always a child. How can anyone turn down a family with child? (sarcastically)

HASHNI: Come on. When any man and woman get together for very long there’s soon a child.

KARHIM: But there shouldn’t be if they are going to be on welfare. It’s not fair for me to pay for their mistakes.

HASHNI: Wait a minute. They are not on welfare.

KARHIM: Well, they soon will be. You know that. How else are they going to live?

HASHNI: They might have to use some emergency funds, but just for a little while. Joseph has a trade. He’s a carpenter and will soon be able to support himself.

KARHIM: And take away a job from one of our people. Our economy is not doing too well right now. It’s hard enough for our people to find work, and here comes this foreigner thinking we are so wealthy we can support his family too.

HASHNI: We do have some responsibility for their problems. As far as you can go back in history we have used their people for our own advantage. Over 1200 years ago we made them slaves and used their muscle to give strength to our economy.

KARHIM: Not slaves. You seem to forget that they came down here, because even then they could not feed themselves. We provided jobs so they had something to put on their tables.

HASHNI: It was mighty cheap labor. We got our money’s worth. Those pyramids are still standing.

KARHIM: I have to admit they are an industrious people. It just bothers me that they are spreading all over the world taking good paying jobs. You know they send most of their money back home, taking it out of our economy. I don’t think we can afford to allow much more of this.

HASHNI: You act as if this was some plan, as if they want to leave their home and family and friends. I think we have to look at all the suffering involved here. And we have to see that we caused a great deal of it. How many times in the past have we chosen to fight our wars on their soil?

KARHIM: Most of the time it was to their advantage. They did not want to be paying tribute to foreign dictators.

HASHNI: But wasn’t the real reason so we would not have to have our houses burned to the ground. It was a lot more advantageous to fight a war where someone else’s homes were being ruined.

KARHIM: I refuse to accept the blame for their problems.

HASHNI: I’m not asking you to. I am simply asking you to help me care for a homeless father, mother, and child.

KARHIM: Your bleeding heart certainly is free with my pocketbook. But then it has always been that way. You know these people might be living here for a long time. Housing is hard to find.

HASHNI: We have plenty of room and lots of funds.

KARHIM: And what about next year. What makes you think we can give away all our money this year and have lots next year again.


KARHIM: I just want you to be realistic. These people are going to be lonely. They can’t speak the language and they don’t know anybody else. Soon they’ll be writing to their mothers and brothers and before you know it we’ll have a colony set up in our backyard.

HASHNI: You worry too much. Other people will help.

KARHIM: For a while, a very little while. Then the novelty will wear off, and we’ll be footing the bill all by ourselves.

HASHNI: And that’s why I think we need a commitment on our part, an agreement to take this responsibility until the end, even if others back off. And that’s why I’m asking your help because you understand commitments.

KARHIM: Oh, all right. How do you get me into these situations?

HASHNI: I wouldn’t think of asking anyone else. You love it. I fact, I think
you’d be hurt if I asked anyone else.

KARHIM: I’m still not sure I want to be doing this.

HASHNI: Oh, relax. Someday you might be rewarded. Maybe God is watching.

KARHIM: Fat chance. Whenever I go into these things thinking I am going to get something in return, I end up angry. Better to admit a gift is a gift. I’m doing it for the baby. I feel so sorry for that poor, helpless thing.

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