Walking with Jesus: 1st Sunday after Christmas

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The light of the world now shines brightly, but all is not well in the land of Judah. A great storm threatens the Christ child.

The scripture lessons for the First Sunday after Christmas are:

Isaiah 63:7-9, Psalm 148, Hebrews 2:10-18, Matthew 2:13-23

Fred Herr
Johnson Memorial UMC
Western District

God Provides

In reading, Matthew 2:13-23, for this first Sunday after the birth of Jesus.  Joseph has a dream and in it he is told to take Mary, Baby Jesus and travel to Egypt for safety as King Herod is seeking to kill the baby.

While traveling through Israel, during our Holy Land Journey, one observation that surprised my wife and I was the topography and landscape of the land.  We knew that there would be some hills and desert but never realized that most all the areas we traveled would be dry, hilly, and void of many streams of water.  Since we live in West Virginia we are accustomed to traveling over hills with lush vegetation and with many streams of water. 

There have been times I have thought about our ancestors, how they may have traveled before roads were developed.  While in Israel I also thought of how people traveled from place to place thousands of years ago.  Most likely walking, riding a donkey or camel.  Their travel would be slow and tedious, given the topography of the land.  What a tough journey to Egypt  it would have been for a new mother, an infant baby and father.

Although God had been with Mary and Joseph from the moment, he called them to be the earthly parents of his son. He would protect them and the Baby Jesus.  So, as they traveled about this barren land, God would have provided all they needed.

As we traveled throughout Israel we were protected.  We had transportation, water, shade, guides, drivers and food; God had provided.

Day to day some have very little, not even a roof over their head, or food.  Churches, other organizations and agencies help those that have needs by providing food, clothing, a place to sleep and much more of what they lack, God provides.  

Those that have been given more than they need are called to share with their brothers and sisters.  God has called us to help provide help for those in need whether it is injustice, housing, food, etc. 

As we end this time of Christmas, begin Epiphany and a New Year.  Let us go forth to provide for those without a home or food, those that are in need of justice, those in the darkness that we may bring into the light. 

Matthew 25:39-41 Common English Bible (CEB)

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’

Prayer: Father thank you for sending your son the Christ to guide us to do your will.  Thank you for what we have been provided, may we answer your call to share and provide for those in need and protection.  We ask your blessing by the name of Christ.  Amen.

Rev. Judy Flynn
Knottsville Grafton
MonValley District

Matthew 2:13-23  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.”  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.”

My mother always had a wives’ tale to tell you about something.  My husband and I refer to them, nowadays, as “Ella-isms” every time we remember one of them.  Whenever I, as a young girl, would have a dream my mom would tell me not to tell it until after I’d had something to eat.  As I shared this story on the last leg of the bus trip in Egypt this past October, I saw many heads nodding about that old wives’ tale being shared with other travelers on our bus. 

This was not the first time that the angel of the Lord had visited Joseph.  We are reminded that the angel visited Joseph to tell him that it was perfectly fine to take Mary as his wife after she had told him she was with child.  In the passage prior to this one the angel had appeared to the wisemen telling them not to go back to Herod and reveal where they found the baby Jesus. 

Our trip to the Holy Lands and the extension to Egypt was very interesting, spiritual and eye opening.  However, after traveling on a bus for almost 2 weeks it began to wear on all of us.  We were tired, many of us were sticky from the heat and we were back-side weary from sitting for long hours on the bus.  I had seen enough of the pyramids and sphinxes and was ready to return to the U.S. when bus captain Joe Kenaston asked my husband John and I to do the final devotions on this passage. 

I kept asking myself what did all these pyramids and sphinxes had to do with Jesus
until I did a bit more research on the route of the Holy Family as they fled to Egypt.  The majority of the places that Joseph, Mary and Jesus had traveled on the back of a donkey were the places we had traveled along our route.  We crossed the Suez Canal and so did they.  We stopped to see the pyramids and most likely they traveled past several of them on their way to their final destination.  I even found a picture of Joseph resting on a sphinx while Mary and Jesus were bedded down on the sandy ground.

It was then that I realized that Jesus was in all of that sand, and hot sticky weather.  He was fleeing the wrath of Herod and thereby being saved to become the Savior of the world.  It was also then that I realized that it couldn’t have been easy for Joseph, Mary and Jesus going the 90 miles through the desert into Egypt.  We were complaining about the bus seats, but a donkey or even a camel were the only mode of transportation for the Holy Family.

We give thanks for the angel of the Lord who appeared to Joseph in a dream, not once but three times and it was because of the protection of the Lord that Jesus was spared the killing of the infant boys two years and under.  That protection is around each and every one of us because we are all children of God.  As we celebrate the 1st Sunday after Christmas we’ve all seen the star that led the wisemen to the child and we are all on a journey with the Christ child in our lives.

Let us pray.  Glorious Lord, we give thanks that you are our protector; that you were the protector of Jesus the Messiah.  Send your angels to guide us to the paths that you have for us, not only at this Christmas season but every day of our lives.  We pray this in the name of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Amen.