Nickleshia johnson

Please pray for my family. We recently lost our home due to a fire, and we don't have anything left and nowhere to go. The zoning board of our community won't allow us to bring a mobile home to our property and we don't no what to do. Please pray for us. Thank you.

Janelle's Response:

Dear Nickleshia,

This is such horrible news. I am so sorry for you and your family and all that you are going through. You will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers today.

I don't know what your faith tradition is, but when I read your request I thought of this reflection I wrote the other day from the Gospel of Matthew. If it is of help to you, great. If not, just ignore it.

Matthew 2:13-23:

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” He arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men. Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying,

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
lamentation, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she wouldn’t be comforted,
because they are no more.”

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child’s life are dead.”

He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

My Reflection:

Looking at the gospels for lessons on learning to live with the losses of life, I thought I would just have to skip the stories about the birth of Jesus. After all, the peaceful, happy Christmas pageants we are used to watching each year, conveniently steer clear of the trauma Jesus experienced later in life. But this story in Matthew lets us know that it isn’t long after those bath-robed wise men clatter off the stage and the curtain draws that the real life scene takes a drastic turn for the worse.

Our North American blue-eyed baby Jesus born to a couple of cute Sunday school kids doesn’t come close to the reality of the violence and trauma into which the Christ child was born. Political tensions were palpable as the Jewish people where being ruled by a foreign government. Fear and suspicion were part of daily living. In his book, Matthew for Everyone, N.T. Wright says, “Before the Prince of Peace had learned to walk and talk, he was a homeless refugee with a price on his head.”

Yet how could it be otherwise? He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, is he not? The whole point of the Christmas story is that God comes into our real-life lives. God comes into our pain and our sorrow. God comes into our poverty and homelessness. God is here with us in the midst of life as it really is.

Reflection questions to pray with:

How would God be born into your life right now, today, in this moment?

How do you need God-with-you in this season of your life?

Has God been presented to you as a “peaceful pageant” rather than one who experiences the tragedies of life? How do you feel about this? What are some new ways you might invite God to be present in the realities of your life?

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