In the Hands of Him Who Really Cares.
by Stuart Malkin 10 January 2022
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Reading: Matthew 2 :13-16 & 19
After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” Joseph got up took the child and his mother and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make what the Lord had said through the prophet come true, “I called my son out of Egypt.” When Herod realised that the visitors from the east had tricked him he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and it’s neighbourhood who were two years and younger.
After Herod died an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, the child and his mother and go back to the land of Israel.”
Previously I told you how Ann and I had gone again to Italy, we decided would have a day in Rome. The immensity of St Peter’s Basilica was mind blowing and we tried to work out how many St Paul’s cathedrals in London you could get inside it. Then there was the artistry that blew your mind! Pieces of art and sculpture that showed God’s relationship to man.
God's hand outstretched to Adam from “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo
This made me think of another special relationship between God and man. The one we celebrated a few short weeks ago, between God and Mary and Joseph, and how they had set out on a relatively small distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem but still needed the basics for this journey.
However a stable was the only place they could find for this important birth, but unusual visitors came to see them. Angels, Shepherds and Wise men who had followed a star. Joseph, you can imagine, would take Mary’s hand in tenderness and look at her. Perhaps he might have said we have both been told what to do and this is the result and possibly taking the babies hand. Now we have to follow the next instruction and go to Egypt, I know we hadn’t prepared for this and it is 65km away but God is with us. They did this to save not just there new baby but the one who would be the Messiah.
It is believed they stayed there for three years, until King Herod died. He had ordered the cull of all boys 2 years and under to secure his own kingship. No doubt Jesus had been handled by his parents as parents do today, loving and guiding. Perhaps Joseph used his hands as a carpenter to bring in some income to ensure they could cover the needs in the foreign land and Mary would use her tender hands with the growing child. However, it didn’t stop there as God spoke yet again to Joseph, telling him this time to return to Nazareth, it is said a mere 170km. Under the circumstances the distance is frightening, but again they were in God’s hands, hopefully they still had a donkey and sufficient items for the trip.
We started with” Here I am Lord” and Mary and Joseph learned to respond to God and I could almost hear them say this. This trip with all its joys and difficulties had been in God's hands, as in the picture we have seen of God and Adam.
Over the last months of the pandemic there have been pictures that have made you wonder what next. I thought it was bad enough to see the elderly in homes visited by the family member only to have communication by placing a hand at the window. Then my heart broke seeing two ladies, mother and daughter, holding hands in a Leicester hospital knowing that mother was dying. Hands have been given from day one to act as a way of communicating between God and man, sometimes for good and sometimes for the opposite. We are currently experiencing great pain in the world at this time, but there is also great patience in the hands of those we often take for granted. We thank God for the latter and the work that is being carried out with vaccinations not just in this country but around the world.
“Here I am Lord” could be something we hold dear now and for years to come.
May the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all now and for evermore. Amen