First Sunday After Christmas

He Qi - Flight into Egypt

Escape to Egypt
Matthew 2: 13-20 The Message

After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”

Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”

Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.)

That’s when Jeremiah’s sermon was fulfilled:
“A sound was heard in Ramah, weeping and much lament. Rachel weeping for her children, Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone, dead and buried.”

Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.”

Advent: a waiting place
The UNHCR.org.uk calculates that at the end of 2013 there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people in our world. Fifty percent of these were under 18 years of age.

They are refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people caught in violence not of their making. They are forced to gather the few possessions they can carry and, with children and babies, walk long distances from their homes in search of a safe future.

Jesus was a refugee; an asylum seeker escaping from genocide. His parents were on the run from a violent dictator. Seeking safety, they were running for their lives and their hope for a future.

Reflection
Look again at He Qi’s art. Why do you think he has fractured the image so much?

Ritual
When you light your five candles on Christmas Day and after, think about and pray for children whose future is threatened by violence, in New Zealand and around the world. These are people for whom waiting is fearful, uncertain, and spirit breaking.

The Western Christian Church Season of Christmas (Twelve Days of Christmas) runs until January 6. You might like to keep lighting your candles, or just the Christ candle, through this time . We need Advent to keep us from having Christmas too soon, and we need the twelve days to stop us giving it up too quickly.

* * *

Thanks again to my friend Mark Pierson, from New Zealand for this series of Advent meditations.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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