29 December 2013

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.’” (v. 13)


Today's passage jumps over the traditional calendar which has the visitation by the magi (wise men) on 6 January. However, the passage clearly brings the reader down to earth after the warmth and light of the story of the Nativity and the visits by the shepherds and those wise men whoever they were. Each year when we celebrate the Christmas season we are taken to a warm and friendly stable, whereas it was probably cold, somewhat dirty, and would smell of animals. We see friendly visitors coming to see a child and in the case of the Magi to bring somewhat mysterious gifts. What we do not generally see or even hear amongst the carols, is the story we read today, of two parents very soon after the birth of their child, being driven out as refugees from the place they would have known as home. Nor do we hear of the countless children who were slaughtered by Herod in his search for the child he saw as usurping his authority.

Yet, for many families across the world today, this story is reality. Not for them the warmth and light of a western Christmas, with rich food, bright lights and a home filled with cards and presents, but instead a lost life, living perhaps in a refugee camp in a foreign land, or even a life of wandering not knowing where to go. Nearer home there are those facing loneliness and emptiness, isolated from families and friends, longing for the season to be over and normality to return.

As we have celebrated the birth of Jesus the light of the world, let us not, in the midst of all the glitter and the joy, forget that he was born a vulnerable child, in the most unhealthy maternity ward, and was forced to flee, as many are today.

To Ponder

  • Read the hymn "Unto to us a boy is born" (Singing the Faith 218). Place yourself within the story and alongside those who live in fear today.
  • Make a point of doing something practical to show solidarity not just with the Holy Family in their plight but with families forced to make hard choices in our own time.

Bible notes author

The Revd Pat Billsborrow

Pat Billsborrow is a supernumerary minister in the Northwich and Winsford Circuit, and is at present part of a district ministry team working within that circuit with pastoral care of four churches. She is ecumenical officer in the Cheshire part of the Chester and Stoke on Trent Methodist District.