Advent: Part 2
'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.”' - Matthew 2 v 13
Nazareth is roughly 90 miles from Bethlehem.
By today’s standards that's a pretty easy jaunt - hop in the car, stick to the A-roads, take it steady in heavily pedestrianised areas and bob’s-your-uncle! You could do it in an hour and a half easily.
But not so in antiquity.
This was 90 miles of rough, hilly terrain; freezing temperatures at night and the constant threat of outlaws on the route. Not to mention the fact that Mary was nine months pregnant!
They arrived in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable and then they stayed put for quite some time before they were once again on the move. (that's the short version of that story)
Herod, the then King, threatened the life of their precious child, so they fled to safety in Egypt. The Egyptian border was outside of Herod’s jurisdiction. It was another 40 miles south to the relative safety of that alien land and they stayed there for several years. They lived in exile until Herod's death allowed them to return to Israel.
The parallels between the choices Mary and Joseph faced and those made by the thousands of refugees coming into Europe today aren't hard to find. Indeed, the journeys made by thousands of modern day refugees make Mary and Joseph’s flight look like a wander in the park.
Here's the thing: No one leaves their home unless they have no choice. Given the same circumstances, we would all do the same, especially if the lives of our families were under threat.
The United Nations estimates that by January 1st 400,000 refugees, many of them Syrian, will have entered Europe after their dangerous journeys from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. So, this week, as we edge closer to Christmas Day let’s spare a thought for those people looking for a safe place to call home.
Because the Christmas story is one of a young family, fleeing for their lives in a desperate and dangerous world.
Check out our new film and then take action with our Christmas campaign to support refugees: