The Start Of Something Good
The Rev. Jon Roberts
Calvary Episcopal Church
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archela′us reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
The Flight into Egypt by Bernardino Butinone, c.1485 Art Institute of Chicago
I know that it’s gonna take some time.
I’ve got to admit that the thought has crossed my mind;
this might end up like it should.
And I’m gonna say what I need to say
and hope to God that it don’t scare you away;
don’t wanna be misunderstood.
But I’m starting to believe,
Oh, I’m starting to believe,
That this could be the start of something good.
In the Gospel today we find the start of something good. After the angel appeared to Joseph in his dream, to leave and take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, we may wonder if he took a song in his heart as he made the long journey across the wilderness. Perhaps lyrics like these were felt. Perhaps he believed this was the start of something good. We may also wonder if he was welcomed back when returning to Israel later.
There once was another man who didn’t feel very welcomed. He wanted to start something good, so he decided to go to church one Sunday morning. When arriving, he was met at the door by an usher. The usher put out a hand to stop him from entering and said,
"Sir, we require gentlemen to wear ties here." The open-collared man was taken aback by this. He hadn't anticipated a dress code. He went back out to his car and considered his options. He had no tie and it was too far to go home and come back. He searched his vehicle for a solution but all he could find was a set of jumper cables. In his frustration and anger at being turned away, he looped the jumper cables around his neck and headed back to the door, determined to carry through on his plan to attend church that morning. The usher looked him over and said: "OK. You can come in, but you'd better not start anything!"
When Joseph re-entered into Israel, he knew God had charged him to start something good when he told him to go to Nazareth. This, after all, was the place the prophets foretold the Son of God would begin. The place where he started would be the place he would return. From Nazareth to Egypt and from Egypt back to Nazareth. When we are visited by Jesus, and led on a journey, sometimes it may feel as though we are going the opposite direction. It may take a lot of time to realize that God was only doing this to preserve you, prepare you and to settle you down. Timing is everything and perhaps we would have scared people away if we spoke out of turn. God knows when everything is right and ready. If only we can be patient on that understanding. If only we can believe. Joseph had doubts about what his wife told him about his child, but he was starting to believe. We have a lot in common with Mary and Joseph. They were afraid and weary, but somewhere along the way, from his exodus to the return, perhaps they shared these thoughts…
“I know that it’s gonna take some time. I’ve got to admit that the thought has crossed my mind; this might end up like it should.
And I’m gonna say what I need to say and hope to God that it don’t scare you away; don’t wanna be misunderstood. But I’m starting to believe, Oh, I’m starting to believe, that this could be the start of something good.”