“I say there is no darkness but ignorance.”
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
There are 12 days of Christmas. Most of you reading this blog will probably already know that, as you are church nerds like me, but some people still don’t. To make a long story short, the church calendar shortens the days of Christmas to 12 (a biblically important number, i.e. 12 disciples) beginning with the birth of Christ on December 25 ending on January 6 with the Day of Epiphany.
Epiphany (meaning: reveal) is the day celebrated that the magi (Three kings or wise men) came to visit Jesus. If you want to know more about the Feast of Three Kings/Epiphany here’s an easy little article with some details!
To read the full story of the Magi, you can find it in Matthew 2:1-12.
The story of the Magi goes a little something like this. They were nobility, scientists, astrologers, and also, adventurers. They saw the star “at it’s rising” (meaning the night Jesus was born it appeared). They travel to find the child somewhere int he Middle East, narrow it down to Herod’s territory and go to get their travel visas from him.
Herod is a jealous and paranoid ruler, hears about the star, has his advisors read him the prophesy and slyly tells the Magi to come tell him of where the child is when they are finished so, “he too can pay him homage.” yeah… right.
Last Sunday we read this text in worship and I preached on the Star and Epiphany. But as I left church, something has haunted me.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:12
I never really thought about it before. They paid their respects, were warned Herod was dangerous and went home safe and sound. Praise God!
Immediately after this, and a significantly lesser known story, Matthew 13-23. Joseph gets warned about Herod in a dream and flees with the family to Egypt. Herod, after a time, knows he’s been tricked and proceeds to slaughter all the male children under the age of two born of the Israelites.
Political Corruption, mass genocide, and a refugee family. This is the story of Epiphany.
So here it is, stuck with me… They left for their own country by another road.
Why not, after learning of Herod’s evilness help the Holy Family escape, perhaps smuggling them into their own countries? Or use their political power to go to Rome and overthrow Herod?
Why not create a ruse for Herod? Returning to him saying they never found the child or perhaps they were already gone by the time they got there?
Why after all the time of following the star, traveling, reading of the prophecy and meeting God present on earth, slink away to save yourself from Herod?
Yet, this is exactly what happens everyday.
Political Corruption, mass genocide, and a refugee family. History has repeated itself over and over again, including today.
Hundreds of thousands of families are displaced from their homes because of genocide, because of political corruption, thousands of children slaughtered because of jealous and overzealous people of power.
Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, Rwanda, just to name a few. Political oppression in China and Russia. Here is the US we are struggling with our own forms.
The Black Lives Matter movement brings up these very issues, African-Americans being targeted for their skin color, automatically being seen as “thugs”. Our refusal from political leaders to welcome refugees seeking political asylum. Immigrants, particularly hispanic, being accused of being rapists and murderers. Our muslim communities labeled as terrorists. Native Americans, Transgendered folks, women, the list goes on and on.
Have we not known? Have we not heard?
When will it end? Will we ever learn that simply going home by another way and locking our doors will not help?
I don’t know, but on this Epiphany day I pray that God may reveal the light to us again. Show us the way. Bring us, all of us, peace.