Now after they 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.”
We have just celebrated Christmas, and if your Christmas Eve was anything like mine, it was filled with songs about the “holy infant so tender and mild” and the “little town of Bethlehem” where Jesus was born. We heard about a young mother giving birth to her firstborn child and angels greeting shepherds with words of peace on earth and good will to all. It was a beautiful, hope-filled celebration and evening.
Then we quickly have the traumatic transition to this escape of Joseph with Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt. God’s Son born into the world as a human being is now a refugee in Egypt, carried by his earthly parents, escaping for his life. There are no kings coming to worship him, no angels praising God in the highest. No. Even as an infant Jesus life is in danger. From the very beginning our Lord’s life was on the line.
This story brings us back to the world we live in doesn’t it. The story of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus becoming refugees in Egypt corresponds very closely to the world in which we live today, where our borders are flooded with people escaping from the threat of terror and violence in their homeland. This story of forced flight reminds us that God-in-Christ identifies with all who have been driven from their homes by the threat of terror, all who are displaced by violence, and all who leave their homelands in fear for their lives, hoping to find a better future. God with us is not just for times of celebration but also for times of grief, loss and fear, and that is part of the Christmas message that abides with us in our darkest places. We are desperate to know that God is with us in times of grief, loss and fear. God is with us, and God is for us to bring us through all of our difficult times. Jesus being a refugee in Egypt helps to remind us that nothing that happens to Jesus, or to us, is beyond the limits of God’s love, and nothing that we go through is beyond being redeemed and used by God for good.
As we make our New Year’s resolutions may we remember that God will go with us as we try to live into the promises of fulfilling those actions we hope to accomplish for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Even when we fail, or cannot attain the hopes and dreams of our resolutions, God will not abandon us. May we also recognize that those who have come to our country in fear for their lives, and the lives of their children need our support and assistance to know that God is with them in their time of fear and abandonment.
- Do you know or have you ever known the fear that comes from abandonment, or the possibility of eminent death?
- How can you reach out to those refugees in our country who are fleeing from eminent death in their homeland?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.