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.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2: 13 – 15
This story, told in two short verses, is a part of Jesus’ early life we tend to forget. Herod’s subsequent massacre of children was a terrible atrocity and the new parents undoubtedly had sleepless nights, knowing their child was the intended target. God, however, had provided a haven for them and they were able to get safely out of the way. They lived out the next few years as refugees in Egypt, the place where their people had been slaves, until it was safe to return.
Danger often leads us where we would otherwise never go, and we find sanctuary in unexpected places. A few months ago this story might have reminded us of the plight of asylum seekers fleeing intolerable situations in their home country. Today though, in the midst of a pandemic, we all find ourselves living in ways far removed from what is familiar. While some of it is novel, often it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or acutely distressing. It is necessary, though; by living in lockdown we keep ourselves and others safe. Let us be content to remain there until the danger passes.
Meanwhile, our lives have not stopped. In their exile in Egypt, Jesus and his family lived. The boy Jesus grew, learned and developed; their family relationships deepened and strengthened. They came back changed. When we emerge from this time of isolation, we will have changed; the question is how? In what ways will we have grown? In frustration or patience; anger or love; anxiety or peace? What will we choose?
Prayer: Thank you Lord that in a time of fear and uncertainty, there are ways we can live more safely. Help us to be patient during this lockdown, and we pay for those who are finding it genuinely difficult.
We pray also for refugees who have fled danger and tyranny, only to find that nowhere in the world is safe today.
We ask that you protect those who support us at this time, to keep us safe, to provide us with what we need, and to protect the most vulnerable.
We ask you to give our leaders wisdom, compassion and discernment, as they determine when it is safe to return to normal.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Action: Write a letter to yourself explaining how you hope this time might have changed you. Read it and reflect on it a month or two after the lockdown ends.