Gospel of Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
Let us Pray: Today we ask your prayers for all the refugees of the world. Guide and protect them through their travels as they seek refuge as the Holy Family did over 2000 years ago. Hold each and every one close as they not only seek refuge but seek You. This we pray in your name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
There were three choices of Gospels for this Sunday. This Matthew Gospel is a very relevant Gospel for the world today. Our world is faced with refugees fleeing danger. Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus were refugees as they fled the danger of Herod. They left their own homeland to find a safe haven. The flight to Egypt was unexpected in so many ways. What a change in circumstances in such a short period of time they had to experience. The story of Jesus’ birth has just occurred in the reading of the lectionary. Now after the child had received symbolic and important gifts from some unusual visitors, the family must run for their lives. Can you imagine being in that position that on Christmas day you had to flee your home and your country because of danger. Leave everything that you couldn’t carry behind. We must sympathize with Mary having just given birth to travel to Egypt to protect her newborn son. It would be interesting to have the story retold from her perspective. Through the lens of her fears and hopes or through the lens of the fears and hopes of the millions of refugees and asylum seekers of our time. God is just as much at work in the lives of those who are threatened now as was the case in the life of the Holy family. God worked through Mary and Joseph and other wisdom figures to protect the child. Behind Joseph’s actions there is God once again, revealing in dreams what he should do. And in contrast to Herod’s actions, God is forewarning Joseph. As one reads these stories it becomes evident that God the Father was working all the details about the birth and childhood of Jesus. And the meaning of this story is clear, there was a concerted effort to destroy the Christ child and to prevent the fulfillment of the New Covenant, but God was not going to let that happen. God works in our times through those who imagine or dream of a different future for the homeless and broken and act to achieve those dreams. As we move into a new year, we need to ensure we are among them. And let’s not forget the other than human families at risk on our planet. As this Christmas season comes to an end and decorations are packed away, the lights taken down and life returns to “normal” I wonder, how will we care for the gift of holiness, God’s presence in the world, in each other, in ourselves. Will we make the trip to Egypt? Will we be there to help those who are making that trip?
Let us Pray: Dear God our Father We live by our faith, our choices, and our instincts. We live knowing that the decisions we make, while often guided by a deep sense of God’s guidance, are often still very much our own. Please continue to guide us as we begin the excitement of a new year with new challenges. Help us face the ups and downs of life, guides us as you guided the Holy Family to safety and a new refuge from danger. This we pray in your name. Amen.
A New Year’s Prayer
Lord, You make all things new You bring hope alive in our hearts And cause our Spirits to be born again. Thank you for this new year for all the potential it holds. Come and kindle in us A mighty flame So that in our time, many will see the wonders of God And live forever to praise Your glorious name. Amen