Monday, January 16, 2017

I Have Heard you Calling in the Night, Part 1

January. It’s that time of year when we may or may not make resolutions. It’s the time of year when we pack away the Christmas decorations. It’s that time of year when I’m glad we use an artificial tree, and I feel sorry for those of you who have to dispose of the real ones. The last time Steve and I did that, we suffered through the whole process, getting jabbed over and over by dry needles – the same dry needles that then fell to the floor to bury themselves in the carpet.

Anyway, it’s the time of year when we pack away the stockings and the nativity scenes.  Except in our house. In our house, we keep the nativity scenes up all year round.  And we collect them, so there is an entire bookcase in our house devoted to nativity scenes. Big ones and very tiny ones. One of them is from my childhood, and I remember it always being under the Christmas tree. I would play with it, moving the pieces around. The characters are a little damaged, and when you look at them, you can see some attempts at repair, but the set reminds me that our faith should be accessible to all of us, including our children. It reminds me that my faith has been a part of me since I was a child. Another set is from Guatemala, and it reminds me that Christ is bigger than we can imagine – Christ is not a gift we can keep to ourselves, but must share with the world, and Christ is a gift that the world shares with us. One set is made of rock, and it reminds me that God is older than I can ever understand. One set is just of Joseph and a pregnant Mary as they make their way to Bethlehem. The two pieces are made so that Joseph interlocks behind Mary, sheltering her, and it reminds me of Joseph, and the role he played in the nativity scene.

These sets are beautiful – some to look at, but all are beautiful in the language they speak to me, reminding me of our faith, and what it means. Even so, they are not complete – they do not tell the whole story. And sometimes, in their beauty, we miss what might be the most important parts of the story of the incarnation of Christ.

Hear these words from the book of Matthew, chapter 2, verses 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 
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,  “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

The word of God, for us, the people of God.  Thanks be to God.

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