December 24, 2010

Dec. 24: Guidance in the night


By Luke Gascho, director of the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:13-23 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.


The glory and brilliance of the night sky is a great comfort. I am always thrilled to walk under a dark clear night sky and observe the grandeur of the universe on display. The familiar constellations and the band of our galaxy – the Milky Way – inspire awe and acknowledgement of our place in the universe. I am at peace – surrounded by the God who created the cosmos as an expression of love.

Today’s text is filled with nighttime experiences for Joseph, Mary and the child, Jesus. It contains fear, intrigue, visions and a longing for home. I believe that the night sky provided a way to find direction for this family seeking to avoid danger. Imagine the brilliance of the stars over the desert with no light pollution at that time! As the family traveled alone, the comfort of the Universe Maker guided their way.

The night sky was a map in the night. Joseph knew the constellations and how to follow them to arrive safely in Egypt and in Galilee. The wise men from the East had followed the unexpected star to find the child king. In an interesting contrast, the holy family followed the constancy of the constellations in the night sky to find protection.

The tenuous nature of Jesus’ early years – that of being forever threatened – reminds me that God understands us when the pressures of life perplex us. Taking a walk under the night sky is a way of reengaging our connection with the God who cares and provides a way.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:13-23 (NRSV)

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”



Comments (6)

  1. I too love a clear night sky. It is when I most strongly feel Gods presence and my significance. As a child of God, I wonder as I wander my way through life. I am in awe of creation and hopeful in the knowledge that God is at work creating me.

    Paul Mares December 24, 2010 |
  2. Thanks Luke for guiding me to consider the importance of the stars in the heavens, I’m also grateful for you “stars” at GC who are helping students find their way.

    Mary K. Mishler December 24, 2010 |
  3. Thanks, Luke. Your comments help to make some sense out of the unpleasant and untidy situation described in this story that follows so closely on the heels of the splendor and wonder of the story of Christmas with angels and magi and gifts.

    Elaine December 24, 2010 |
  4. Thank you Luke for a vivid picture of the small family making their way under a huge and glorious sky…

    Frances Ringenberg December 24, 2010 |
  5. Thank you for the reminder that “God understands us when the pressures of life perplex us.” Your encouragement to take in the night sky to develop an awareness that God cares and will provide a way, rings true for me. I have always experienced God’s presence best in nature.

    Rose Shetler December 24, 2010 |
  6. What a wonderful thought. The dark sky is God’s comfort to those who need His guidance and direction in life.

    Joe G. Jaime December 25, 2010 |