News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
In our world, once Christmas is over we move on to sales, sleep in, enjoy some quiet time, or clean up loads of boxes and wrapping paper. The Christmas story in the Bible is followed by events that happened over the coming days and next few years. We celebrate Christmas for 12 days – harkening back to Roman times, – culminating with Epiphany – or 12th day – when we remember the Magi arriving with their gifts. While Christmas is important, it’s only in 2 of the 4 gospels, whereas the story of Easter is in all of them.
Isaiah 63:7-9 The larger chapter of Isaiah tells of bloody and violent memories. The kind that we don’t want to talk about at Christmastime. And yet our memories at Christmastime are often both good an bad. Verse 7 has the word “remember” (sometimes translated as “recount”) in its center. There is something about recalling the bounty of our memories and celebrating them in this moment – whether it be Christmastime, or remembering the Exodus from Egypt. Verse 8 curiously seems to define the people of God who do not act falsely, there is a tension – are the people of God those who do something or who are something? Verses 8 and 9 are difficult to translate. Are they negative, or pointing to God’s providence. But, whichever understanding we hear, we can’t help but see that the focus here is on the intense words of love and care, of redemption and salvation, of lifting up and carrying of the people of God by God.
Matthew 2:13-23 explains how Jesus went from Bethlehem to Egypt and finally back to Nazareth, the home of his parents. Known as the “massacred of the innocents,” this is perhaps the part of the Christmas story (told only in Matthew) that we often overlook or skip. The older, established King, Herod “The Great”, is threatened by the news he’s heard from the magi. So he does what he has to in order to protect himself from threats, and ensure his power. The fact that children up to 2 years of age are killed, hints at the possibility that Jesus may have stayed there for more than just a few days. Like the Israelites, Jesus flees to the land of Egypt to evade death and destruction (the former from famine, him from the diabolical king) before returning to the Promised Land. Egypt is mentioned at least 4 times. Do you remember what happened to the Israelite boys in the days of Moses in Egypt? They too were killed to ensure that Pharaoh’s rule would continue. How is God with the people of Jerusalem – Emmanuel – when Jesus goes to Egypt? How do we struggle to trust in Emmanuel when we suffer?
Questions for Going Deeper
1. What phrase, word, image grabs you in these texts?
2. How does it touch your life, or our life as CAPC?
3. How have you experienced God as a with-us-God?
How do your memories of God impact your faith today?