“Where God Went After Christmas” – Rev. Greg Haseloff

January 09, 2017

“After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,’ the angel said. ‘Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt.’” - Matthew 2.12

The delight, wonder, and awe of Christmas often leave us with the longing to remain in this idyllic celebration of the arrival.  Yet, in the plan of Yahweh, this was only the beginning.  Where did the very incarnation of God go after this arrival?

In all the symbolism that can be attributed to Egypt, this northeast corner of Africa plays a crucial role in the identity formation of God’s people – so crucial that the Son Himself was escorted there.  The trip to Egypt reminds us of another time in history when babies were being killed, and a Hebrew mother placed her baby in a basket in the river to be found by a daughter of Egyptian royalty.

Hosea 11.1 scribes the words “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”  Was Jesus’ time in Egypt pointing back to another infant spared in the midst of infanticide more than a millennium prior?  At the very least Matthew is making explicit the parallelism with the Old Testament, with Moses as the “shepherd of the exodus” calling out of Egypt God’s son Israel.

Every one of us in some way has experienced God calling us “out of Egypt.” Becoming a believer translates to being converted “from a slave in Egypt” to “life in the promised land.”  Knowing the big story of Scripture is the experience of hearing Yahweh say: “Out of Egypt I have called my son/my daughter.”

And the close of Advent moving toward Epiphany reminds us of the tension: the life lived in relationship with Jesus is one “called out of Egypt.”  And the other side of the tension is this, our faith takes us INTO Egypt to live “in the world” as witnesses of the Advent that the Savior has arrived.  As you depart Christmas this year and walk “into Egypt,” go with the word Emmanuel on your lips – God is With Us!

- Rev. Greg Haseloff, Campus Chaplain

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