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.” (Matthew 2.13 NRSV)
One man had a great idea for his children's Christmas. He ordered the plans for a tree house from a mail-order catalogue. He received instead the plans for a sailboat.
His letter of complaint to the company brought this apologetic reply: "While we regret the inconvenience this mistake must have caused you, it is nothing compared to that of the man who is out on a lake somewhere trying to sail your tree house."
The real world is full of mistakes and compromises.
Mary and Joseph lived in the real world, too. They could not linger forever with the shepherds and the angels in the stable at Bethlehem. Unfortunately, it was a stark and cruel world they had to return to. It was a world in which a woman soon to bear a child could be ordered to ride on the back of a donkey for several days to the hometown of her betrothed in order to comply with a taxation decree. It was a world in which a mad tyrant could put to death all the infants in the region on the word of some astrologers. It was a world in which men could be suspended on crosses for the most minor of offenses. Into such a world was the Christ child born.
And it is in this real world that Christ came to be our savior and our role model for living in community with God.
May we will in this real world with the love and grace of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Dear God, thank you for your love in Jesus Christ. Help me to show your love in this real world. In Jesus' name, Amen.