Left out of the Lectionary.

January 12, 2017


Oftentimes, we hear the story of the Holy Innocents during the Christmas sermon.  


This year, Nadia Boz-Weber had a great sermon on those verses and the reality that Jesus is born into our world of terrible cruelty. You can read it here.


But the sojourn in Egypt is followed by the return from Egypt, which is rarely read by those who follow the Revised Common Lectionary:


19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20‘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.’ 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But 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. 23There 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.’ 

     - Matthew 2:19-23


Jesus starts life as a refugee, on the run from a cruel dictator.  He flees to the backwaters of the empire in hopes of being safe there.


But the last verse is particularly enigmatic.  Normally when Matthew, or another Gospel-author, quotes Scripture it is clear where they are quoting from.  There is nothing even close to this Nazorean citation in the Old Testament, thought.  Perhaps Matthew is citing something that was only "spoken" and appealing to an oral tradition.  Or perhaps Matthew is confusing the Hebrew for branch (Isaiah 11:1), confusing netser or nasir  for the place name of Nazareth.  It is an odd problem about which much ink has been spilled.


But it is out in Nazareth, a place with no Biblical pedigree that the Son of God grows up, walking into Sephoris, a nearby Roman colony, perhaps to work.  Yes, Matthew shows us again, that God's great works occur not in the big cities, in the seats of power, but in the little burgs of fly-over country where nothing ever happens.  Nothing except the preaching of God's Reign come near.

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