It will be a busy week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian as we celebrate our Christmas services. Last Sunday we were thinking about the pre-christmas anxiety of Joseph. Our sermon from the day can be found here. This week are thinking about the after-christmas exodus of the holy family.
I am a big fan of Christmas. What a wonderful thing to celebrate. Light comes to the midst of our darkness. A child of hope is born. Angels sing, stars appear in the sky and shepherds and wise folk are drawn to celebrate the dawn of a new era. But then.... it's all over. Way too soon. The darkness, the confusion and the striving return.
Christmas was never an end in itself but a new beginning of epic proportions. And as with any time of new beginnings, there are always those who greatly fear change and will go to desperate lengths to try and return things to the way they once were. Nobody in Scripture exemplifies this more than King Herod, whose actions following the birth of Jesus, are recorded for us in Matthew2:13-23.
You may recall the story. The Wise Men searching for Jesus arrive at Herod's palace and inform him they are looking for the new born King. Herod (who is terrified of anybody usurping his position of power) tells them. “Oh, that's great! When you find him, make sure you come and tell me where he is!” After visiting Jesus and presenting their gifts, the Magi realize that Herod is up to no good and so return home by another route.
Then we read “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (verse 16)
Thankfully, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, has been warned about this impending tragedy and the family take on the mantle of refugees and flee from the impending persecution to the land of Egypt, where they find a safe haven. Such is the after Christmas exodus.
Christ has come to our world. Hallelujah! But now He is born in our midst it is time to recognize that change will not come easily. Christmas is a day of celebration. Now the hard work of continuing to be light in a world, that often prefers the darkness, has to continue.
We head into a New Year, not knowing what it may hold... for ourselves, our families, our friends, our churches and our nations. We must continue to dream. We must act upon those things we feel God is calling us to do.
We must take care of our families and each other. We should lift up our leaders, both in church and state, in our prayers. We can encourage each other with the thought, that though circumstances change, the love of our God remains steadfast and true.
For some music, Don Moen sings “God will make a way”
A Happy New Year to all!
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.