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Exiles after another unwanted journey

December 30, 2022
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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

Counter to the image given in some Christmas pageants, Joseph did a lot more than just stand by the manger while shepherds worshipped baby Jesus. Herod had killed some of his own sons who might have become rivals for his throne. He didn’t flinch from deadly action to try to wipe out the newborn would-be Messiah. Matthew said God worked through Joseph’s alert obedience to keep Mary and baby Jesus safe from the king’s dangerous paranoia.

  • Joseph surely didn’t act out his dreams from the night before every day. Yet quickly obeying the dreams Matthew noted was a life-and-death matter. How can you discern which thoughts, dreams or “inner nudges” are from God? * Even as a baby, Jesus was in danger. Grown, he told a story (Luke 20:9-19) of vineyard tenants who killed the owner’s son. Jesus knew what he faced yet chose his unsafe mission. How does knowing he risked all to save you deepen your gratitude?
  • In Jesus’ day, there were various sizeable Jewish communities in Egypt. This made Egypt a safer refuge for Joseph, Mary and Jesus than it might be today. Does realizing that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were refugees from political violence help shape your views about helping refugees (of which, sadly, our world today has too many)? What people or places have given you safety or comfort in times of trouble in your life?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, you knew even before your birth that this broken world is often dangerous. Make me one of your instruments to work to bring peace rather than violence to your world. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is the Entry Points Program Director at Resurrection, a self-proclaimed foodie, a bookworm, and is always planning her next trip. She has the sweetest (and sassiest) daughter, Carolina Rae, a rockstar husband, Austin, and a cutie pup named Thunder. She loves connecting with others so let her know the best place you've ever eaten, best book you've ever read, or best place you've ever been!

Here we are, only two days from a brand-new year: 2023. I’m laughing a little to myself because I remember writing the GPS post on New Year’s Eve last year, and I remember writing about how no one should say that 2022 was going to be their year. I remember saying that we should all proceed gently and quietly, responding to the worldwide plea for normalcy and safety. And this was such a different vibe than we used to walk into New Year’s with. We used to glorify jumping into a new year HARD, with ambitious goals and drastic diets or exercise regimes, with long lists of ways we were going to become better and be more in control that year.

Then, as we all know, our sense of safety and security and “in control-ness” was dramatically altered when something outside of any person’s control took over. Since 2020, we’ve all had to learn how to live in a world where we have very little control (which was always the case, but now is a more obvious reality) and very different ideas of safety, comfort, and need. The global pandemic taught all of us hard lessons, but then there have also been the challenges and hardships that teach us these same lessons on top of that. Job changes, losing our loved ones, all the other sicknesses, broken relationships, and so many other things that aren’t up to us.

The birth of Jesus, and today’s story of Joseph facing a very scary and unknown situation, came before anyone knew of COVID or the wars and global crises we currently face, but came in a world that was a dangerous place in so many other (yet similar) ways. I picture Joseph hearing these messages of danger and direction and facing a choice of whether to listen or to try to control the situation himself. I imagine myself in his place—I can already hear the internal thoughts running rampant of “What should do?”, “What do think would be best/safest/smartest?”, “How do keep my family safe?” I would most definitely have been trying to take the reins and drive the bus and all the other cliches about control. Yet, Joseph made the choice to listen and to trust and to find his safety and comfort in God.

So this new year, may we enter with a sense of peace and comfort in knowing that while we do not have ultimate control over what the year will look like, we do have a very secure Father who offers us a place of refuge, safety, and comfort no matter what happens. Make goals, be ambitious, fly high, and know that when you fall, you’ll be okay because He’s right there waiting.

Happy New Year, my friends. I am excited to see you in 2023!

© 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.
References

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