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A fresh start for Mary, Joseph—and Jesus

January 1, 2022

Daily Scripture

Matthew 2:13-23

13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt [Hosea 11:1].

16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

18 A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more [Jeremiah 31:15].

19 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” 21 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. 23 He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We wish you a happy, physically and spiritually healthy 2022! Unlike the impression many Christmas pageants give, Joseph did a lot more than stand by the manger while shepherds worshipped baby Jesus. Matthew said God used Joseph’s attentive obedience to keep Mary and baby Jesus safe from King Herod’s dangerous paranoia. In Jesus’ day, Alexandria, Egypt’s population was probably about one-third Jewish. There were also other Jewish communities in Egypt. This made Egypt a safer refuge for Joseph, Mary and Jesus than it might be today. Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown and Jesus’ birthplace, was near Jerusalem. Even worse, Herod’s fortress/palace, the Herodium, literally towered right over Bethlehem (click here to see the remains of the Herodium.) Nazareth, an obscure hill village far to the north of Israel, was much safer. There Jesus “matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52).

  • Joseph surely didn’t spend every day doing what he had dreamed the night before. Yet his prompt obedience to the dreams Matthew recorded was a life-and-death matter. How can you discern which thoughts, dreams or “inner nudges” are from God?* Does seeing Joseph, Mary and Jesus as refugees from political violence help shape your views about helping refugees (of which, sadly, our world has too many)? Even as a baby, Jesus was in danger. Grown up, he told a story (Luke 20:9-19) of vineyard tenants who killed the owner’s son, wanting to claim the vineyard as their own. Jesus knew what he faced, and chose the perilous mission of salvation anyway. Does that deepen your gratitude for the love that risked all to save you? In what ways? God directed Joseph toward humble, peaceful Nazareth, far from the violence of Herod and Archelaus. How, in any physical setting, can you seek peace, rest and connection with God during 2022?

Loving Lord, help me know how to mix wisdom and compassion in welcoming strangers in your name. As you grew and matured, help me respond to your call to grow and mature in this new year. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Jessica Lovell

Jessica Lovell

Jessica is the Pastoral Intern at Resurrection Overland Park and is also pursuing an M.Div. at Saint Paul School of Theology. She is a Certified Candidate for Ministry in the Great Plains Conference and often provides pulpit supply to churches in the conference. Jessica lives in Lenexa with her 3 children: Sydney, Sierra and Aiden.

Welcome, all, to 2022! 22 years after Y2K! Can you believe it?

I remember the fear that was present twenty-two years ago with the possibilities of what could go wrong when computers flipped over to the year 2000! What would we do?

Today we are living in a more fearful world. We are living in a time of spiritual warfare. We must move forward with some amount of risk. Having faith is risky because it means believing in things we cannot see!

We learn from Tokunboh Adeyemo that “Jesus was a refugee on African soil. God was not ashamed to let his son become a refugee.” * Often, we can be hesitant to reach out and help others because we are not familiar with their struggle. Adeyemo reminds us that the Bible is full of characters like Abraham, Moses, and Jacob who knew what it meant to be refugees. Abraham is the epitome of faith! Abraham was risky with stepping out and embodying faith! Jesus was risky in seeking out the lost and marginalized.

Let us remember that God is not afraid of taking risks. He entrusted a teenager with his son. God showed faith! Our God takes risks with us each day. God came in the flesh; suffered and died so that we might live free. It’s the most magnificent gift for anyone to receive. We are living in unusual times where we want to hunker down and stay isolated. I encourage you to step boldly into your faith, get outside of our comfort zone and reflect on the ways you can step more confidently into your faith in Christ!

* Tokunboh Adeyemo, Africa Bible Commentary (Nairobi, Kenya: WordAlive Publishers, 2006), p. 1138.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Books like Dallas Willard’s Hearing God and Adam Hamilton’s Why? offer in-depth insights into that vital question.