God is calling us to rise and act! On this 2nd Sunday of Christmas the importance and well-being of the child is highlighted. God cares for children. He does not want them to be harmed. We discover that Joseph receives serious warning of impending danger to the child, Jesus. An angel of the Lord appears to him in an intense and emergent dream. Joseph is called into prompt or urgent action. He needs to arise and act immediately to ensure that his family remains safe. The message is clear: Get up and go Joseph! You are the protector of the child. Arise, take your family and get away as fast as you can for Herod is seeking to kill the child. He is warned of the nature of the impending danger, is directed where to flee to, and is told of the exact time they should stay away (verse 13). The family finds refuge in Egypt, the place that has a history of bondage to Israel, and particular cruelty to the infants of Israel.
Later in the text, we read that Joseph is visited in a dream once again, to tell him to return to Israel but is warned to go to Nazareth to avoid Herod’s son and to further ensure the protection of the child (verses 19-23).
As we reflect on this passage, with its emphasis on the dark world of unjust rulers, violence, private grief, personal pain, hope, faith, safety of the child and the important role of the protector, we realize the importance of viewing the position of the child and the protector through an objective lens. In many families today there is no father, but the mother or an older sibling serves as the protector of the children. We discover that not all of the children born across the globe are adequately protected: According to WHO, an estimated 3.34 million children worldwide are living with HIV. Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Over 700 children become newly infected with HIV each day, despite preventative measures taken. Millions of children worldwide experience the worst kinds of rights violations as they are constantly confronted with violence, child labour, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation/cutting, and child marriages.
It is in light of the impending danger confronting children that all protectors are called to arise and act because Jesus is present in the storm and He will calm the storm, bring healing and wholeness:
- God is ever present in dark and bleak situations and impending danger.
- God, when he pleases, can make the worst of places serve the best of purposes.
- God provides a hiding place for his people.
- God highly regards the life and safety of the child.
- All care givers are called to arise and act for the protection and safety of the child.
So arise and act Father! Arise and act Mother! Arise and act Care giver! Lead the child out of pain into healing! Take the child out of the darkness into the Light! God does not cause evil, but is present in times of distress in the Voice guiding us, in the sending of us to safety, in the healing of our pain, and is ever present in our lives. He will hide you under His wings. Amen.
To think about: So many babies are born HIV positive, so many children are victims of much pain and suffering. But Jesus is extending a life-line to you today: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Written by: Rev Jeconiah Plaatjies, Director, Hephzibah Women’s Wellness Organization and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator