Most people seem to love him and most people also turn a blind eye to the fact that he is an illegal immigrant.
Poor Paddington’s home is destroyed and he needs a place of safety. His aunt remembers the promise of a British explorer that there will always be a welcome in London and so she puts him on a ship. She has no money, but she is so desperate for her nephew to be safe that she helps him to hide in a lifeboat. He arrives in the UK as someone who has no legal right to be here.
Paddington arrives in London with high hopes that are quickly dashed. He expects a welcome but he actually ends up alone and in despair.
As he sits alone in Paddington station late at night, the Brown family rush past with Mr Brown telling them to keep their distance from the strange looking bear. Mr Brown is very suspicious of Paddington’s motives and he is sure that he is some kind of scrounger or con artist but Mrs Brown shows more compassion and they take Paddington in.
There is a lovely scene towards the end of the film where Mr Brown talks about the way he first felt about Paddington but that now he considers him to be family.
Whilst this is an entertaining film, there is clearly a pro immigration message being communicated and I think that this is a good thing.
I hate the anti immigration propaganda that is becoming more and more prominent in the UK.
I hate the way that we talk about numbers and not people (or bears!) People have a real value that is lost when we reduce them to statistics.
When we focus only on crowds of immigrants flooding into our country it is easy to become resentful.
When we hear the stories of why some of those people have come and why they need a place of safety, we should be inspired to welcome those people with open arms.
I wonder whether our attitude is more like Mr or Mrs Browns?
Mr Brown believes the propaganda and is suspicious of anyone foreign or strange.
Mrs Brown is willing to treat an outcast well and to show compassion.
I hope and pray that we can move again towards becoming a country that consistently welcomes people in a positive way.
As I watched Mr & Mrs Brown at the station with Paddington, I also thought about the church. Do we welcome people into the church no matter what their background is? It’s easy to be enthusiastic about well off or gifted people but what about the outcasts?
I visited a church several months ago where a homeless person was part of their congregation. During the service he wandered about and he has been known to go looking in the kitchen for sharp knives. What about him, should he be welcome? I hope so, but he should also be watched and headed off whenever he heads for the kitchen.
Church should be the most welcoming place in the world but is it?
How welcoming is the church community that you are a part of?
I believe that Christians should be pro immigration. Consider how God feels about the subject:
“You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23.9)
“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19.33-34)
“True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command. (Deuteronomy 24.17-18)
The Israelites were always to remember that they were one mistreated foreigners but that God had rescued them.
Christians should remember that we are people who are saved by the grace of God and we should be willing to share that love with everyone, even with bears from Peru!