Christmas is coming …

After the school nativity plays have finished, the candles have been blown out at church carol services, gifts and cards have been exchanged and the shepherds and Kings have been welcomed to the stable, there is an often neglected part to the Christmas story. The escape to Egypt.

The story is of Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus escaping persecution by travelling to Egypt, a journey of many hundreds of miles. They did this because Herod, the ‘King’ of Judea had vowed to find the baby and kill him. Joseph had received a warning from an angel in a dream that Herod was looking for Jesus.

Their journey must have been miserable. It was winter and desert nights are cold. The family wouldn’t be able to take much with them in the way of provisions, they were on a donkey. Mary had recently delivered her baby, no health visitors and post-natal care in those days!

The journey through a strange land would have brought challenges and blessings. They would have been challenged by the different language, customs and food. Perhaps some were hostile to these ‘refugees’, maybe they found many blessings in hospitality from people who having little themselves. On arrival Joseph would have needed to find work to provide food and shelter for his family.

We are experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced from their home environment because of persecution or war. At the October United Praise service we reflected on the plight of refugees. They face many dangers on the journey and on arrival often face persecution.

The Christmas story is often portrayed as ‘otherworldly’, the stuff of Christmas biscuit tin artwork, but the exile of the Holy Family is a stark reminder that some people face a very different Christmas and winter to ourselves, sometimes the Bible speaks with such a loud voice into our society….

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.

Isaiah. 9. 2, 6,7

 

Christmas blessings to you.

Rev John Deakin 2016

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