May It Be As You Have Said
Friday of Epiphany 1
13 January 2017
Life is punctuated by joy and sorrow. No life is always joyful and happy. No life is always sorrowful and bad. The Christian is always seeking to make sense of both the joy and the sorrow. Often the sorrow sent by God through bearing the cross, leads to greater joy through growth in faith and confidence of His mercy (Ps 126:5).
So it was for the holy family. Yes, Mary and Joseph sorrowed over an "unplanned" pregnancy. Yet, when the Lord told them what this meant, Mary with faithful acceptance whispered, "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). When directed to take his family to Egypt this very night, Joseph did it. What they didn't see was the bigger picture. They had only a slight idea of why God was doing all this. They had the messianic hope of course, but like all of us, Mary and Joseph only made sense of their sufferings in retrospect; Mary "treasuring all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:19).
The bigger picture is what matters. If the holy family had not fled, Jesus would not have gone into Egypt to reclaim the nation that expelled holy Israel at the time of the Exodus. The land of the Pharaohs, the land of slavery, would have been left to languish in the shadow of death. Instead, the Messiah returns where God was rejected and comes to a people that shut its heart to His servant Moses. The land where the water ran blood red, was now to be cleansed by the Son of God, who would shed His blood for that cleansing. The land was purified when the foot of the Son of God walked its fertile valley and its burning desert sands. The horror of the night flight from Herod's slaughter, dawns into a glorious day of salvation for a land mired in darkness and the shadow of death. Often our sorrows lead to the dawning of the light of Christ among us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

John Chrysostom
"Now the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph; and what does he say? 'Rise, 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' (Mt 2:13).
"Joseph, when he had heard these things did not say, 'The thing is hard to understand. Did You not say just now, that He should "save His people?" and now He saves not even Himself, but we must flee, and go far from home, and be a long time away. The facts are contrary to the promise.' No, none of these things did he say (for the man was faithful). Neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: 'R emain there until I tell you .' Nevertheless, Joseph does not hesitate even at this, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy.
"And this because God, who is full of love to man, did with these hardships mingle things pleasant also; which indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their challenges continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other. This very thing He did here also. For consider, Joseph saw the Virgin with child. This cast him into agitation and the utmost trouble, for he was suspecting the young woman of adultery. But immediately the angel was at hand to do away with his suspicion, and remove his fears; and seeing the young child born, he reaped the greatest joy.
"Again, this joy is followed by no insignificant danger, the city of Jerusalem being troubled, and King Herod in his madness seeking after Him who was born. But this trouble was again succeeded by another joy; the star, and the adoration of the wise men. Again, after this pleasure, fear and danger; 'For Herod,' the angels says, ' is about to search for the child, to destroy him. ' and He must flee and withdraw Himself as any mortal might, the working of miracles not yet being appropriate. For if from His earliest infancy He had shown forth wonders, He would not have been accounted a man."

John Chrysostom, Sermons on Matthew, 8.4
Hosea 11:1-9

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them.
They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels. My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.   (ESV)
Come, Lord Jesus, that we might see Your light in the darkness of our lives. Help us to bear the crosses that You send. When we must go into the heart of darkness fleeing the wickedness of the world, send the Light of Your Word to us, showing us that darkness is as light to You. Amen.
For the family and friends of Bill Heine, that they would grieve with confidence that the Lord will raise all together on the last day
For all those who will be traveling to the symposium at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that they might be kept safe; watched over by the holy angels
For President Barack Obama as he concludes his term in office, that he might be strengthened in every good deed
For all church musicians, that the might be upheld by the Holy Spirit as they lead the church in song to extol the crucified Christ
Art:  DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
©  Scott Murray 2016