Those of us who are Christians are celebrating the birth of a descendant of slaves, who was born in a stable and who, with his family, would soon be a refugee in another country. One of the ways we celebrate Christmas is by exchanging gifts a custom that some believe echos the gifts brought to baby Jesus by the wise men so very long ago.
As we ponder the message of Christmas, however we might interpret it, perhaps we can give some thought to the millions who are enslaved around the world - more than ever before in human history. For these slaves there is no Christmas celebration, no day of rest, no gifts. Just another day of relentless toil as a slave.
As we give and receive gifts, perhaps we should consider how many slaves worked to get that gift to us. Love that chocolate candy - were the cocoa beans picked by a child enslaved in Cote d'Ivoire? Gold jewelry is always nice - was the gold mined by slaves in South America or Africa? That cotton blouse is charming - did slaves harvest the cotton? The latest tablet is great to have - did slaves mine some of the minerals used in its circuits?
We cannot escape from the fact that we are, or may be, surrounded by some amount of slave-made goods. How we address this continuing crime against humanity is a challenge to us and an opportunity.
After the gifts have been exchanged, and we have eaten our Christmas meal, and those of us with fireplaces are hearing the logs crackle and watching the smoke drift up the chimney, perhaps we can consider what the ending will be for the parable of the modern slave. And during our reflection, we might think about the question that may be at the heart of the parable - what have I done today to end slavery? This question in some ways suggests that another Christmas gift awaits each of us. For when we achieve the eradication of slavery, I think that we will find that not only have we helped to set the slaves free, we have helped to set ourselves free as well.