BY REV. DAVID MERRITT |
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” -Matthew 2
One of the sub themes of Advent is the plight of the Holy Family as they escape the wrath of Herod. It is marked with brutality, ruthlessness, realism, and fear. According to the Gospel writer Matthew, an angel tells Joseph to flee from their home to Egypt where they will hopefully find refuge.
The plight of Jesus and his family becomes entangled with the great hope of the ages that God is with us. Jesus takes on the role of Messiah, the Deliverer, and God’s remedy for sin. Yet in the infancy narrative of the Gospel, Jesus’ plight foreshadows the conflict that will ultimately mean his death on Rome’s remedy for treason; the cross.
As families across the globe scramble for refuge in the midst of a pandemic, global food crisis, economic and political turmoil, we see the Holy Family’s plight played out in real time. The young maid, child, and earthly father travel from village to village seeking food, shelter, and kindness. Sadly, families in our world seek a place they can call home today. The Holy Family yearns for a home of their own just as those who spend their lives on the run.
What response can we as people of faith offer to families who sojourn in our midst and in the larger world?
I would suggest that our response be birthed in prayer, covered with compassion, and funded through our outreach as people and churches. In our daily prayers, we are offered through the Board of World Mission, reminders of our world’s needs in the Advent devotional and our confidence in prayer.
Support, both financial and in kind, for agencies in our communities can ease the burden. Looking to our own Sunnyside Ministry and to other groups like City Lights, we see people who care deeply and put faith in action. Along with many other agencies, the church does not rest on good intentions but in action. As someone once said Love is an action word and so we are called to Love deeply.
Wrapped like the swaddling clothes around the infant King, compassion allows all of our work to be covered in life giving compassion or love. Hospitality is at the heart of the story of Jesus and his family in Egypt. While we do not know what happened along the way, we do know that Jesus survived and was able to find his way home when the threat of death evaporated. Love and a loving response to those in need of shelter, food, economic support, medical care, and stability can help all of God’s children during this Advent Season.
May your Advent be blessed with the Good News of the Angels and the true work of the church to be Christ’s hands and feet, his voice in our world. Maybe that family in need you see along the way represents the holiness of all God’s Children, needing shelter too. Be blessed my friends. God be with us, God be our Home.
About the author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grand-kids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.