Two Roads

flucht_nach_agypten_liebieghaus_898abIf you find yourself wondering why I’m trying to capture what was a very visual worship experience this morning on text, well, I’m ahead of you. What made it work was the real interaction with the participants, some of them children, some of them adults. I’m not going to attempt to quote any of their contributions here, but instead indicate them by my responses.

Wish me luck.

All right. For the story today, I need some help. I need some folks with energetic feet this morning (I realize this is a rough day to ask for that). But come on down now. Right here. Join me.

No, don’t sit down. We’re moving about today. That’s why you need your energetic feet.

OK. We are now the magi, the wise men who went to bring gifts to the newborn Jesus. So. We’ve read the stars in the sky, and we know that there’s a new king that’s been born in Israel. But… Where do we go? The stars aren’t telling us that much.

Where can we go to find a newborn king?

The North Pole? Well, yes, I suppose so, but that’s awfully far and I doubt we’ll find a King of Israel there.

Well, where do you usually find a newborn King?

That’s right, in the palace in the capital. So we’ll go to Jerusalem!

Follow me up the aisle. Here we go. Now we cut through this pew here, and then up that way. Some of these valleys get pretty narrow.

All right. We made it. Now, can I get somebody to be King Herod? We’ve got to ask him. Great. Thank you.

So, King Herod, where do we find the newborn King?

Perfect. That shrug was absolutely perfect. Folks, this is exactly the shrug that King Herod used when the magi came to visit, because he didn’t know, either. He had to ask.

And the person to ask would be a religious professional. Hm. Are there any religious professionals in the house?

Well, yes, we can ask the Chair of the Board of Deacons, but I did have somebody else in mind.

Me? Why, yes, I am a religious professional. And so, King Herod, I tell you that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem of Judea.

Oh, you’d like me to tell the magi that? Now that’s delegation for you!

All right, magi, now we’re off to Bethlehem. Which is down this aisle, and between these pews, and gets a little rocky when we get back up to the front of the church. Everybody here? Great!

Who brought the gifts?

You’ve got one? What did you bring? Spices? Hey, that’s cool. You’re right, they are worth their weight in gold.

Say, gold. What a good idea. Did anyone bring any gold? Wonderful! All right, we’ll leave the gifts here. And it’s time to go home. But… wait.

Now we need somebody to be an angel in a dream. Great, we’ve got you. What’s your message to us?

Not to return to Herod? Because he’s going to do this baby in? Right. Back home by another road.

Now we’re switching roles. We’re still in Bethlehem, but we’re no longer the magi. We’re the Holy Family – granted, a rather bigger Holy Family than three, but that’s great, the more the merrier. And we need our messenger angel to come in a dream again.

What’s that you say, messenger angel? King Herod is after us, and we should go to Egypt?

Oh, you don’t want to go to Egypt? It doesn’t sound safe there, huh? Well, I have to agree with you. But still. We’ve got two options: stay here with King Herod, or go to Egypt. So which is it: Herod or Egypt?

Right. Egypt it is.

So. Up this aisle, and cut across, and down the other way, and across again, and here we are in Egypt.

Yes, I know it looks a lot like Bethlehem.

All right. So, we’ll spend some time here, and watch the baby grow – wow, look at how big he is! – and we’ve got some news that King Herod has died. We can go back home! Joseph’s got family in Bethlehem, so we could go there.

Except that… Herod’s son Archelaus isn’t any better than his father. We’re not going to be safe.

OK. Scratch Bethlehem. Where else can we go?

Nazareth, you say? Well, why not?

With another trip up and down the aisles and between the pews, we’re safely in Nazareth, and Jesus will be safe here.

And it should feel rather like home, since it looks so much like Bethlehem, and, for that matter, Egypt. And like Church of the Holy Cross in Hilo.

I thank you so much for coming up and helping. I hope it’s given you a sense, if not of how far everybody traveled, at least of some of the difficulties they faced, and the roads they followed. I hope you’ll all travel your roads with God’s help all along the way.

One final note: the lay leader observed that reading the Matthew 2 text after this “story” was a tad anticlimactic.

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