|Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||May 29, 2016||Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Luke 7:1-10|
|Trinity Sunday, Pentecost 1, Year C||May 22, 2016||Trinity Sunday, Year C||John 16:12-15, Psalm 8|
|Day of Pentecost! Year C||May 15, 2016||The Day of Pentecost, Year C||Acts 2:1-21, John 14:8-17, 25-27|
|Easter 5, Year C||April 24, 2016||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Acts 11:1-18, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35, Psalm 148|
|Easter 4, Year C||April 17, 2016||Easter 4, Year C||Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||April 10, 2016||Easter 3, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 3, 2016||Easter 2, Year C||John 20:19-31|
|Easter, Year C||March 27, 2016||Easter, Year C||Isaiah 65:17-25, Luke 24: 1-12|
|Good Friday||March 25, 2016||Good Friday, Year C||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday||March 24, 2016||Maundy Thursday, Year C||Psalm 116:1, 10-17, John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 13, 2016||The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8, Psalm 126|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 6, 2016||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Joshua 5:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32, Psalm 32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 28, 2016||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||February 21, 2016||The Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 7, 2016||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-43a|
Second Sunday after Christmas, Year C
Sermon Date:January 3, 2016
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14, Psalm 84, Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Liturgy Calendar: The Second Sunday after Christmas, Year C
"Flight into Egypt" – Guido of Siena, 1270’s
Howard Canaday was our neighbor for thirty years. He lived across the street. Howard didn’t socialize a lot. He took care of his family and spent hours in his garage, which he had turned into a state of the art carpentry shop.
His house is full of beautiful handcrafted furniture that he created out in his workshop. A few months before he died, he was busy making furniture for his granddaughter, who is expecting her first baby.
Howard died in December, and has passed into his greater life with God.
Because he was so quiet, those of us who were not his family will never know about the richness of his life, or much about the strength of character it took to marry a woman who already had four young children, and to make a life for them all, and to be a father that they would come to not only depend on, but to love.
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was such a man. Joseph must have also been Involved with his work, and also a quiet man, leaving behind only the faintest of historical traces.
Joseph is never mentioned at all in the gospel according to Mark. In the gospel according to John, Joseph gets only two brief references as the father of Jesus. In Luke’s gospel, the last reference to Joseph appears in chapter three, when he is once again referred to only as the supposed father of Jesus.
In the gospel according to Matthew, who tells us more about Joseph than any of the other gospel writers, Joseph vanishes after the first two chapters.
Matthew gives us no indication of where Joseph actually lived at the beginning of the story, but only that he was a descendant of the house of David.
Matthew’s gospel, unlike Luke’s gospel, gives us no clue that Joseph ever went from up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth to the city of David to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child, and that while they were there in Bethlehem, Jesus was born.
For all we know from Matthew, David might have already lived in Bethlehem when Jesus was born—after all, he was a descendant of David.
But what we do we know from Matthew is that Joseph must have had a great faith and strength of character.
In the face of possible ridicule and distain, he chose to become engaged to an already pregnant woman.
And again, in the face of what must have been at least puzzlement on the part of his neighbors, he chose to take Mary and the newborn Jesus and to flee to Egypt, a country that no one would choose as a place of refuge, the country in which the Israelites had been held captive for centuries before God heard their cries and with the help of God’s strong arm and the leadership of Moses, they were brought out of Egypt into the Promised Land.
In this time of mass migration, Joseph’s dilemma rings true.
How many fathers have found themselves in this same situation in the war torn country of Syria? They know that their families are in danger. What must they do to protect their wives and their children? Like Joseph, many of them have chosen to flee anywhere they can go to get to at least some semblance of safety.
At least Joseph had the help of the angel of the Lord who appeared to him in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt, not exactly a welcoming place, but there his family would be safe.
And Joseph knew that he could go home when Herod had died and the danger had ended.
The scripture goes on to tell us that when Herod died, Matthew did indeed hear from the angel once again, who told him that now he could go back to the land of Israel for those who were seeking the child’s life were dead.
And so Joseph packed up his family again and returned to Judea, probably his home territory, but Herod’s son Archelaus was the new ruler in that part of Israel, and he was just as dangerous as Herod had been, so being warned in a dream, Joseph went away to the district of Galilee.
What does the little we know about Joseph have to say to us today?
We have just entered into the new year of 2016.
The world as we know it seems dangerous in some ways it has not been since the end of the Cold War.
Our lives are unsettled in subtle, and for some of us not so subtle ways.
And so Joseph can serve a steady companion and teacher for us as we enter into the mystery of this new year.
Joseph can teach us to be good listeners to God.
Joseph listened to God, even when what God called him to do seemed counter cultural, counterproductive and downright dangerous.
Joseph also teaches us to be good followers and to do what God will call us to do.
When he listened to God, Joseph heard that he must offer gracious hospitality and a home to Mary, who already being pregnant, would bring ridicule on Joseph if he took her in anyway. But he did. He chose hospitality for Mary over the disapproval of his neighbors.
And when he listened to God, Joseph heard that he must flee from one place of danger into a place he probably never would have chosen on his own—Egypt.
I love the fact that Joseph chose to follow God’s direction here—because Egypt was the place from which the Israelites, way back in the Old Testament, could not escape unless they depended on God’s strength and power to lead them out and bring them into safety. Joseph, too, must have realized that he would have to depend on God’s strength and power to get him back to safety when his family’s time of exile in the land of Egypt was over.
So not only was Joseph willing to listen to God and to follow God, but Joseph also trusted and depended on God to get him back to safety.
Joseph’s example reminds us to trust in and to depend on God, especially in the uncertain and unsettled times in our lives.
At the end of today’s gospel, having been warned in a dream not to stay in Judea, Joseph takes his family and goes away into the district of Galilee, and
“There he made his home in a town called Nazareth.”
And it was in Nazareth that Jesus grew into a man and began his public ministry.
Joseph teaches us in this new year that our home is where God takes us, and that we can make a home wherever that is, knowing that we can depend on God to protect us and to be present with us there.
In today’s scripture from Jeremiah, God gathers the remnant of Israel home—home from the land of the north, the farthest parts of the earth, God will bring the people home, in this case, to Zion.
And Psalm 84, which we sang today in the beautiful hymn paraphrase, the psalmist begins with this line, “How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!”
This dwelling place with God that the psalmist holds dear is a place so safe that the swallow can make a nest there.
This dwelling place is a place that is full of joy. “Happy are they who dwell in your house! They will always be praising you.”
And it is a place of strength. “Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.”
God’s dwelling for us is a place of joy and safety in our hearts that we can take with us wherever we go when follow God on the pilgrims’ way.
Who knows where God will lead us as individuals and as this church in 2016?
But if we go with Joseph as our companion, we will be listening for God.
We will be following God, offering hospitality in the most unexpected ways.
We may be led by God into what seems like danger, when in reality, God is bringing us into safety, if only we depend on God, as Joseph did.
But most importantly, with Joseph as our guide, we will make our homes wherever God brings us, a place of joy and praise and safety and strength, until God calls on us to move again, and sets our hearts on the pilgrims’ way once more.