Matt. 2.13 thru 23 God Rescues Us
“God Rescues Us”
Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wow! The aftermath of Christmas,…this is often a time of depression for some. It can be a lonely time for many. Interestingly, it is a time that dating services and computer dating really pick up. This Christmas I was able to relax with my family and watch a little more TV than I usually do. Have you seen all the ads for EHarmony.com and Match.com? It seems that Christmas time, and especially New Years, is there biggest selling time. Computer dating is actually most busy during New Years Eve! This is because many people realize that they are alone at this time. I bet there are a bunch of lonely men and women sitting around taking account of the past year and realizing they are alone and they don’t want to be dateless at one more New Years Eve party. So they get online in hopes of finding that perfect match.
“The holidays” are a time in which we have unwrapped the gifts and sometimes found that our life is not necessarily as full as we would like it to be. Even though Christmas has come with tinsel, cantatas, and all the excitement, we are still struggling in that relationship in our lives…or lack thereof. Or we still can’t get out of under the weight of the debt from our credit cards (or we may have just added to it!). We may be undergoing chemotherapy or have just lost a loved one. We may be finding that life is not the bowl of cherries we were hoping for when we first married our spouse. During this time, depression afflicts many people. Looking back on the past year, we may feel disappointed. The clock will strike midnight on December 31, turning our calendars from 2007 to 2008. But are things going to be better?
In our gospel lesson for today, we see a shift from the beautiful (in many cases maybe even sentimental) account of the birth of Christ and the holy response to it…to an ungodly response of the world in which this baby was received. We see that things weren’t so peachy for Joseph’s family either. God is bouncing the Holy family back and forth from Bethlehem to Egypt and then to Nazareth. Lines at the airport weren’t the problem back then…it was worse. Bandits on the roads were common in those days. Long journeys with not much food and lack of easily accessible water was what most had to deal with. Already in his incarnation, Jesus is suffering many of the most desperate aspects of the human condition. He is displaced and homeless, a refugee pursued by a violent oppressor…part of a world stalked by injustice and death. However, these, doubtless, very difficult moves from place to place saved them from the evil destruction of Herod. This was all part of His plan!
This wasn’t something that was thrown together in the nick of time in a reaction to danger. This was the fulfillment of prophecy from hundreds of years prior at the direction of a loving God. We have three references to the Old Testament prophets in this short reading. This was all part of God’s plan! He rescued the Christ Child so that His plan could be fulfilled in the way He saw fit.
Nothing was going to deter this plan or prevent it from achieving God’s goal. Herod tries to do just that…but he fails. Sadly he is successful in killing those innocent children, but he is unsuccessful in thwarting God’s plan to save the world. This loving plan was in place long before Herod was born. The prophets spoke of this plan in detail throughout the Old Testament. In only ten verses, Matthew has connected this birth of Jesus with significant places in Israel’s history in Bethlehem, Egypt and Ramah and with historic events of the Old Testament people of Israel through this flight, massacre and return that takes place. This reveals for Matthew’s hearers and for us God’s protective hand contrasted with his Old Testament people and now with the Holy family as events whirl around them.
God’s plan is to rescue us from the world of hurt we are in also! He has sent His Son for us even in the worst of times in our lives. He came to a world of hurting and lost people…of injustice and death. God’s plan unfolds in His timing and He sometimes moves us around and sends us places we don’t always want to go but it is always for our own good. God works His plan for salvation through His Son, even using unthinkable evil such as the murder of Bethlehem’s children to fulfill what He is doing in and through Jesus.
In our gospel, God sends a message to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take the family to Egypt until it’s okay. He obeys and the baby boy and family are rescued and safe. But don’t think it was a great time in for them in Egypt. The Bible doesn’t tell us everything but we can assume that it would have been a trial. They traveled far. They probably knew very few people there in Egypt. They were foreigners there. They didn’t speak the language and were looked down on by the locals. Yet, they were safe and God’s Plan for their lives was continuing.
That’s how we can look at this part of the Christmas story. Many of us have been through great trials and adversity. Some of us are struggling now. It may be something as simple as a pesky cold that won’t go away or the memory of a loved one lost that especially hurts this time of year. Nevertheless, remember that God’s Plan for your life is still in effect. We may not see all the supernatural workings or understand the reasons why. Yet He works for the good in all things for those who love Him. A mad, baby-murdering, king couldn’t stop His Plan. We witness all kinds of trouble and tragedies in our lives but God is still at work. Don’t be discouraged, my brothers and sisters. God’s Plan trumps any tragedy. And often He uses them for greater good.
May He give us the eyes to see His work in our lives and the peace and trust in Him when we can’t. And may He richly bless your 2008 even through your struggles! Happy New Year!