URC Daily Devotion 28 December 2023

Thursday 28 December 2023


St Matthew 2: 13 – 18
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 fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

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.’

Egypt is a place of refuge, a safe haven. Egypt is the land of security for Joseph in Genesis and for another Joseph centuries later. 
It is rather ironic that the story immediately after the birth of the child who heralds the possibility of redemption, salvation, and reconciliation is this story of Herod’s egomaniacal behaviour faking worship on one hand while instituting infanticide on the other. In Matthew fulfilment language connects the pain from children lost in wars with Assyria and Babylon to a similar anguish in Bethlehem: a mother’s cry, a parent’s scream come at the hands of fear, demand and demonic activity.  This a reminder that the most vulnerable suffer when the most powerful are irresponsible. 
Joseph is given four crucial dreams in the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, and then we don’t hear any more about him. His role is not only to protect Mary and Jesus but to serve as one whose actions respond to God’s desire for the holy family’s safety. God speaks and Joseph listens. As Christians we do not worship a God who simply fixes problems. We worship the God who comforts those who suffer and who visits us with dreams and visions and insights to reveal bring his kingdom in.
When Christmas comes in any year, refugees will still be fleeing some horror in their homelands. Powerful people will still be threatening the vulnerable. And into the madness of fear and evil, God comes to give life. The image of salvation in the midst of such evil is crucial rather than something to avoid. What overpowers the cruelty human beings create is the overwhelming truth that God gives not only a means for responding to evil but also a reason: God’s creation is holy and intended for good. In Emmanuel, God-with-us, God has gifted us what he promised to navigate the evils and egos of this world.

Protective God, 
By coming to Joseph in that dream 
you showed your love for humanity’s safety. 
Send us wherever your will leads, 
so that others may know, 
through us, 
the glory of your love. 
We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.



Today’s writer

The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith, Secretary for Ministries,member of Purley URC


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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