Oh, I’m late. Very late. I can’t keep hoping for perfect. I have learn to just let them go.

I think I’m going to just link to the readings, to keep things shorter on the page. I really do suggest going and reading them, however, since these aren’t so much free standing sermons as short form reactions to the text. My nasty little habit of preaching is to unlink the topic from the text, and this blog experiment is about trying to cure that. Today’s writing is mostly about the passage in Matthew 2.

Jesus and his family will go down to Egypt. The murder of children hangs in the air. The salvation of the people of Israel is playing in a surreal reverse gear. Jesus is being placed into history, one story at a time. He will wander in the desert for 40 days, he will bring forth water, and finally, re-image the sign of the serpent raised above the people, and go to the cross. The stories of the exodus play out again before our eyes.

It seems hard to read this year.

I wish to pray, once again, for peace in our time. Israel’s incursions into Gaza have compounded an increasingly unconscionable occupation and strangulation of an entire population. I recall watching the removal of settlers from Gaza with such great hope…and find only bitter disappointment at what has happened since.

In Hebrew, Egypt is called “the narrow place,” or mitzrayim. God calls the people out from there, out from narrowness, slavery and death.

By this, we do not mean a modern nation or people. We are talking about God’s Chosen people, who are always identified by their need for God’s restoration (no matter what creed they approach God by). And we are talking about a memory and history of slavery, a narrow place.

And that is precisely where Jesus goes. In fact, this time, Egypt is the refuge, a place of safety when Judea is about to be wracked with the murder of children. It is not the place. It is the idea. God is not brought low by narrow places. God is present there, not locked up, but as the lighthouse, the key for the door, the voice that tells us that we are not alone.

I watch the news, I see that thin strip of land, between Israel and Egypt. And I see a narrow place.

It is a narrow place. It has become a mitzrayim. Not the land itself, which would bloom if allowed. Not the people, who have been displaced and scarred by war. The walls are narrow. The commitment to violence, and “disproportionate response.” The helplessness that those in power proclaim. The true helplessness into which children and their parents are forced into. The hunger. The death.

It is a mitzrayim, and we cannot abide it. Who will God send to preach against it? Whose voice will tear down the walls? Whose hands will build a lasting peace?

Christ enters Israel’s history, goes down to Egypt, and comes back. Christ enters our history, goes down to death, and comes back. And this is all we need to know. No matter what the narrow place is, God shall go there to find us. There is no place that we can be confined, or shut ourselves away in that God With Us will not go.

The fears of depression, the pain of rape, the denial of the closet, the separations of racism, the terrors of war. From Darfur to Guantanamo to Gaza, here and there, all earth is full of narrow places. And they are being broken. For God wills us to life, and life abundantly. God will always go. Going forth into the world, going to create, going to redeem, going always in love.

Let us give thanks. Our narrow places cannot hold us anymore. And when we are healed, what is beyond us? To know that we are free?

We can turn to our neighbor. We can go forth into the world. And we can love.

Blessed be the God of redemption.

Amen.

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