In Matthew 2:1-18, we read of the visit by the Magi, and also the warning of the angel to Joseph to “get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew’s gospel does not record any words of response from Joseph, but it does record his immediate and complete obedience.
Jesus is saved. He is taken to Egypt according to the prophecy and promise given to Hosea. But do not forget the rest of the story. Herod is hell bent on killing “this newborn King of the Jews” we know as Jesus and is willing to have the blood of innocent children on his hands. All the baby boys in Bethlehem two-years-old and under are slaughtered and the lament of mothers and fathers can still be heard today.
I write this Medenblog after the Calvin Seminary community gathered for a prayer service of lament led by Dean of Students, Jeff Sajdak, and Eric Sawar, a Th.M student from Pakistan. There is much to share about any one of our students, but let me just say that Eric wept tears of sorrow for his country in the aftermath of the horrific news of a Taliban attack on a Pakistan school where 145 children and teachers were slaughtered. Eric also wept tears of longing for his wife and children still in Pakistan as he and they wait for political asylum in the United States. As a community, we stood with Eric to declare trust in our God who is graciously present and active in such times of unimaginable horror and loss.
In November I witnessed the signing of a Fellowship Agreement between the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt (Synod of the Nile). A key motivation for the visit was to attend the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC). Calvin Seminary graduates Naji Umran and spouse Anne Zaki, along with Wageeh Mikhail, minister in Egypt and at ETSC.
This school was birthed in a boat on the Nile in 1863. Besides the practical ability to meet students up and down the Nile, the school began on the water because it was illegal for them to teach on the land. Today, the Protestant Church and such schools as ETSC still minister in a very difficult religious and political context. In spite of persistent uncertainty and insecurity, there is robust confidence that God will continue to work through His body of believers in Egypt. Christians in this ancient land of the Old and New Testaments cherish the fact that the Savior of the world, before he was called out of Egypt, found protection in a place along the Nile.
In this season of Christmas story-telling, let us not forget that slaughter still marks the world that God so loves. Let our prayers become tidings of comfort for those weeping and mourning in places of fear and grief. Let us fall on our knees in gratitude and adoration that the very Word of God became flesh to be with us in all such sorrow and loss. That’s why Jesus came. And he is still dwelling among us today!
To read the CRCNA story related to my Egypt travels, please click here.