Sermon Preparation -
December 27, 1998

Matthew 2:13-23

After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him."

That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt, where they stayed until Herod died. So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, "I called my son out of Egypt."

When Herod found out that the wise men from the east had tricked him, he was very angry. He gave orders for his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old and younger. This was based on what he had learned from the wise men.

So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet Jeremiah had said,

     In Ramah a voice was heard
          crying and weeping loudly.
     Rachel was mourning
          for her children,
     and she refused
     to be comforted,
          because they were dead.

After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph while he was still in Egypt. The angel said, "Get up and take the child and his mother back to Israel. The people who wanted to kill him are now dead."

Joseph got up and left with them for Israel. But when he heard that Herod's son Archelaus was now ruler of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Then in a dream he was told to go to Galilee, and they went to live there in the town of Nazareth. So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, "He will be called a Nazarene."


1. The anger which grows out of control and lack-of-control is death for the innocent. Isn't that still the case? Is a part of the way out of this all too human response to recognize the limits of toting up cost/benefit projections of people's lives and to listen to informative dreams which reveal that The Spirit of God is still moving through suggestion and modeling rather than through power and control.

2. The references to the Lord's promises is probably not a good way to put it. This makes it sound as if God has decided that the children need to be killed. A better way of looking at this issue is that there are predictable outcomes if things don't change. Given military or economic or religious power to maintain, isn't it predictable that such power would see it as better that one or "a few" might have to die for the "greater good" of their continuance in power? Where do you see this acting itself out in your world?

3. Ah, yes, the story-line goes that Jesus is saved from being killed as an innocent so he can later save those who would still kill him through his being killed as a forgiving innocent. Is yours an unknowing innocence or a mature innocence? Where are you on the journey from innocence to innocence?

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