I know this actually pre-empts Epiphany, but the Gospel does not take a break.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him...When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
-Matt. 2:1-2, 9-11
The coming of the Magi, astrologers from the Parthian Empire, was one of the many signs that accompanied our Lord’s birth. This sign indicated, among other things, that the Messiah would have for Himself worshippers from among the Gentiles. Matthew’s notice of this event is consonant with the words of Simeon in Luke’s Gospel: “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).
Today the light of Christ has gone out to the four corners of the world. Through the work of Paul and his associates, the Gospel went west; through the work of Thomas, Matthew, and others, it went east. Now it returns from the east to bring light to the children of Israel and Ishmael who are living in darkness. I would like you to take a moment to echo this prayer with me.
Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for the work of your Holy Spirit, who empowers your Church to bring the Good News of your salvation to all the corners of the world. We thank you that you have kept your promise to be with us in this work unto the end of the age. We thank you for your faithful servants who carry on this work amidst great personal risk and deprivation. Please bless the work of your evangelists who come from China, Iran, India, and Iraq to spread your word as it journeys back to the land of Israel. Please bless those who work in the land of Israel, who labour to bring the truth of who you are and what you have done to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Amen.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he 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 of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
As has been said by greater men than I, our Lord was a refugee. He was compelled to flee the land of his birth, the land of his people, in order to seek safety. Herod killed many children in Bethlehem in order to destroy the Messiah, but he did not succeed. Today Satan continues to persecute God’s children in an attempt to hinder the spread of the Gospel and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Egypt continues to suffer this day as Copts, Catholics, and Evangelicals are persecuted for the sake of their Lord. But just as Jesus went through great suffering to sit at the right hand of the Father, so too these martyrs and faithful servants will one day sit with Jesus on his throne, as he makes the world acknowledge that he has loved them. Please echo this prayer with me.
Lord Jesus Christ, as we remember the affliction you endured following your wondrous birth, we remember the land of Egypt, which received you in your time of need. Please bless your people who are suffering in that land, and strengthen them as they prepare to share the Gospel with their neighbours in Egypt and the Middle East. Please remind them that Satan may rage, but you have the victory. Amen.