12/29/19 – “Finding a New Way Home”

Posted on : Dec 26th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday “God’s Awesome Adventure Continues” as we encounter unexpected detours in our life journey.

Matthew’s gospel reminds us of the “real world” that Jesus was born into.  It was a world of harsh realities, and not too unlike our lives, was a world in which life was full of unexpected detours and the need to find a new way home.

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, we are told that shortly after the birth of Jesus, King Herod send “Wise Men” (spiritual “discerners”) to find out exactly where this Jesus was born.  King Herod purportedly wanted to “worship the newborn ‘King,’ but the Wise Men were wise enough to know that Herod didn’t worship anyone. Everyone was expected to worship him.  When Herod discovered that the Wise Men tricked Herod and went home by another way, King Herod proclaimed an edict to kill all male babies two and under.  In Christian circles this is called “the slaughter of the Innocents.”  It was an act of infanticide – the ruthless killing of innocent infants and children.

Joseph, Jesus’ father, was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and the baby to save his life.  With no time to spare, Joseph, Mary and Jesus flee, and Jesus is saved.  About two years later, a similar event occurred.  King Herod had died and Joseph was about to take Mary and Jesus back to the land of Israel.  However, when Joseph discovered that Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father, he knew that was not a safe place to go. 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.

Sometimes all these journeys through Biblical lands seem confusing, especially if we don’t know where the cities are that are being referenced.  But what is important is to know is that our faith journey – our spiritual journey with God – is often filled with unexpected detours and the need to find a new way home to God and to ourselves.

Nelle Morton (January 7, 1905 – July 14, 1987), one of our early feminist theologians wrote one of the most wonderful books about encountering detours in life and faith journey.  She called it, “the journey is home.”  The process of coming home to God is always about finding a new way home – just like Mary, Joseph and Jesus experienced from the very beginning of Jesus’ life.  This Sunday, we’re going to look at that journey, that process of finding a new way home – of finding our authentic selves and finding God / the Divine – especially when we encounter detours on our life path.

Christmas Blessings to you, to those you love, and to our world.

Dan

Matthew 2: 1-23

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jewish people? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Now after they had left, an angel of God 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 God through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my child.”

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 God 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.”

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

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