The season of Epiphany begins every year with the story of the Magi (wisemen) from afar following a star and conversing with King Herod in search of the Newborn King. We love this story so much it has become a visual part of nearly every nativity set, but nowhere in the Biblical narrative does it say that they arrived while Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were still in the stable. On the contrary, in Matthew 2:11 is states clearly that the Wise Men visited him sometime after his birth in a house. It later becomes clear, after these Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod (Matthew 2:12) that Herod had his own nefarious ambitions for aiding the Magi in their quest. Though the lectionary does not have us read through the rest of the chapter together in worship, after the Epiphany story concludes, Matthew’s Gospel takes a turn from the supernatural and hope-filled to the grim and worldly. When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:16) Thankfully Joseph was warned: Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt… for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him. (Matthew 2:13) This began the oft overlooked period of Jesus’ life when he and his parents would be lived (in today’s terminology) as refugees or asylum seekers. Indeed, fleeing in very real fear of the corrupt, violent, power-mongering rulers of their homeland (King Herod and those who implemented his rule) they were forced to seek asylum in a neighboring country. As I write this post we are in the midst of a partial federal government shutdown over disagreements on how to manage/handle what has been described as a crisis at our border, but the crisis is not at our border. The crises are in the former homelands of the thousands of Central Americans fleeing in very real fear of corruption, opporession, and violence in their homelands, many of which at the hands of their own governmental leaders. Regardless of what strategy you believe we should take regarding our border security, it is our call as Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves, and never forget that we would not have the freedom from bontage to sin that we take refuge in daily if it were not for the fact that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ once sought and received asylum in a neighboring country. Blessings to you this season of Epiphany Season. May you always remember that we are blessed to be a blessing to others living life out of a deep well of gratitude for the great gifts of forgiveness and grace we receive from Jesus Christ our Lord.