Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, [Christ] himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death…
Joseph the dreamer—not Jacob’s son, the one with the fabulous coat, but his namesake, the husband of Mary—is dreaming again. Three times on the heals of the Magi visit, in this short Matthew passage he dreams, and then acts, to save the child and his family from powerful forces protecting their narrow interests. He is attune not only to the message of the angels, but to the political realities on the ground and their intersection in time.
The holy migrant family make a journey that mirrors that of Jacob’s son, finding refuge in Egypt. Like so many families in our own time, they cross borders and rivers seeking safety from leaders who fume and plot and terrorize.
There is a strange comfort in knowing that these ancient scriptures looking to such different times than our own know something about the human condition that spans all time…and our time. “It was fitting,” says the writer in Hebrews, “that God…should make the pioneer of [our] salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Suffering was not the end of Joseph’s imagination but the beginning. He dreams engendered new possibilities. He dreamed and acted, finding a way through the wilderness for the savior of the world to find us.
What is God dreaming up for you? What do these times offer to us of new possibility and new life?
Enter into worship.
About the art: “Flight into Egypt” John August Swanson, Serigraph, 2002. Swanson notes: The lonely flight of the Holy Family is depicted visually by the exact layering of transparent colors and drawings, creating a myriad of fine details and rich colors.
Swanson, John August. Flight into Egypt, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56547 [retrieved December 19, 2022]. Original source: Estate of John August Swanson, https://www.johnaugustswanson.com/.
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