It’s the Tenth Day of Christmas and my Advent wreath is very dry and brittle. My Christmas tree is still up because I didn’t feel like taking it down on New Year’s Day as is my usual custom. While some keep their Christmas decor up through the full Twelve Days of Christmas, most of us are ready to put it all away, another Christmas survived, and move on to conquer the New Year.
I bet that’s how Joseph and Mary felt after the birth of Jesus. They were probably looking forward to returning to Nazareth and beginning their life together as a family. Especially Joseph. He was looking forward to returning to his carpentry shop and some things that were familiar and routine. Mary’s unexpected pregnancy and then that angel were not exactly how he envisioned starting married life. Then you add on having to travel to Bethlehem for the census, the baby’s birth in a cave with the animals, the local shepherds showing up, and three complete and total strangers arriving from someplace in the East, bringing gifts he never, ever imagined. No, this was not normal. Yes, he was really looking forward to getting home.
And then he had another dream. If I was Joseph, I might be afraid to fall asleep!
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 son.” ~ Matthew 2:13-15
Sometimes we think we’d welcome a warning of impending disaster. However, there are always accounts of people who, even when warned to evacuate, do not do so and find themselves having to be rescued. Most of us live by our faith, our choices, and our instincts. We live knowing that the decisions we make, while often guided by a deep sense of God’s guidance, are often still very much our own.
Recall a time when you were given a clear warning? How did your respond?
As I start this New Year, may I be ever-mindful of Your presence in my life. May I listen for Your voice guiding me and sending me to safety. May I feel Your touch healing my pain. May I know joy and wonder, even in the unknown. Amen.