What Was & What Can Be

What Was & What Can Be

Note: We apologize for the poor audio quality of this recording.

Matthew 2:13-23

There have long been arguments between creationists and evolutionists. Personally, I think these arguments miss the point and sidetrack us from God’s mission.

If evolutionists cannot look at all the science and data at their disposal and all the questions that still remain to be answered, all that they do not know, and not recognize the possibility of a guiding hand, a presence beyond what they can explain, then I believe they are being dishonest and are simply out to prove something wrong that cannot be proven wrong.

Likewise, if creationists cannot acknowledge all the scientific data from fossils and archaeology that we have at our disposal and see that life does evolve and admit that God is big enough, so far beyond our ability to comprehend divine ways, that evolution is absolutely a way, a method, a tool at God’s disposal in the act of creation, then they too are dishonest and simply trying to disprove something that cannot be disproven.

But I digress…

The folks who argue each side of this debate both miss the meaning of our sacred texts:

The Bible begins with an account of creation not to prove or disprove a theory of the existence of our world. Rather, it begins with the words, “In The Beginning” and a story about bringing order to chaos, about forming and shaping all that is around us because those acts tell us who God is and what God does.
God is defined as a new beginning.
This is true for Israel and the scripture that they call Torah and we call Old Testament.
And this is true for Jesus and the scriptures that we call the New Testament.

Through Noah, God gave humanity a new beginning.
Through the family of Abraham, God made Israel as a new beginning
Through the Exodus, God gave the Israelites a new beginning.
Through Saul, through David, through Solomon, God gave new beginnings
Through Isaiah, through Micah, through AMOS…God gave his people the signs, the possibility, the directions for new beginnings.
And, most critically and centrally for you and I, God gave us Jesus, his son, a holy child, the Christ, to create a new beginning.

And each of these beginnings is characterized by the themes of our faith:
Redemption, Salvation, new life

Today, we read another new beginning story. A story about the Holy family at a time when they needed a new beginning because they were in trouble. Fleeing for their lives as political targets, as enemies of the state, as refugees. This is a story we often overlook during the Christmas season but a story that is critical to our understanding a central part of Jesus childhood.

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.”

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.”

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

The government trough King Herod was after the Holy Family because of the threat that Jesus represented to his rule. This child was said to be the King of the Jews, which at this time was Herod’s position as given to him by Rome.

The Holy family either does not know about this threat or at least does not know the extent of the threat because an angel has to warn them to flee. The angel gives them specific instructions to go to Egypt and to remain there until the angel returns to give the “all clear.”

Now, you have to try to imagine for yourself how this felt for Mary and Joseph. They had a a young child – perhaps newborn perhaps a year or two old – we do not know exactly and our only clue is that Herod kills every child 2 or below. Mary and Joseph, new parents, are now at risk of losing their child because the government is after them. Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not exactly sure how it feels to have the government after me….and my only clue is from movies like Enemy of the State starring Will Smith or the Jason Bourne Trilogy starring Matt Damon. And if those movies are any indication, then it is a pretty scary thing.

The point: Mary and Joseph needed a new start, a new identity. Their world was chaotic as much or more so than anyone world could be. Life as they knew it had crumbled right before their eyes because of the birth of their son. So, more than any of us can imagine, they needed a new beginning.

And that is exactly what God gives them. Through an angel’s warning. God gives them a chance. A prophetic message from an angel of the way they can begin again, start over, get away and create a new identity and be safe from harms way.

This is a story of new beginnings, just like that Genesis story and just like so many other stories of scripture where we come across a person or a group of people who need a new beginning. And just like in each of those stories, God makes a way, God brings order to a chaotic situation, God protects and redeems and sustains people through a his words.

Do you need a new start? No, you are probably not a political prisoner, but maybe there are things in your life where you do feel targeted, where it seems that others are out to get you.
Is some place in your life where you feel like a refugee?
Maybe you need a new start with someone – a friend or colleague.
Maybe you need a new start with a family member who you struggle to get along with.
Maybe a physical condition or disease is changing the way you relate to the world and you need a new start to figure life out again.

Whatever it may be for you and I today, perhaps we all in some way need a new beginning. Perhaps we all need Christ Jesus to enter into our life again to offer us redemption, some way out of a difficult situation, some way through an illness or disease that is threatening, some way out of a difficult relationship with a family member or colleague or friend. Whatever that new beginning that you might need or want or desire: Believe! Because those very first words of our holy scripture say that in the Beginning was God creating and bringing order and salvation and redemption, with Christ both then and now and in the future. God will may a way because that, brothers and sisters, is what God does. In the beginning. In this beginning. May God make a way for you.

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