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Written by Gradye Parsons

Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.

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January 1, 2013

January 2013 - Don’t focus on the pyramids

You turn a page and there it is: 2013.

Moving into a new year is that simple, but the getting there is never simple at all. The things you planned to accomplish in 2012 are either done or they’re not. The new, improved you has lived another year and become ever so slightly improved but nonetheless older. For those of us who still write checks, we have to constantly remind ourselves to write 2013 on the date line. Even though it is a new year, it starts out very much in the same old ways.

In Matthew 2:13–15, we read the story of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt. The three wise men have given them information more important than gold. Herod is coming and he does not like rival kings. Joseph takes his little family to another part of the Roman Empire that Herod does not control.

This new family starts out its life as refugees. That is not a political statement, just a fact. A fact that should give us pause as we think about issues such as starting life over in another country, something that is not—and has never been—easy.

Eugene-Alexis Girardet was a French painter born in the mid 1800s. One of his most well-known works depicts the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. The painting shows Joseph following the donkey, on which Mary and the baby Jesus are riding. In the background are the pyramids. There are no other people in sight. I do not think that anyone who might have come upon this family would have thought that they were anything other than what they seemed: poor, homeless, and running for their lives. Girardet brilliantly conveys the contrast between the pyramids of power and the seemingly powerless little family. You get the point.

Somewhere out there in 2013, a God moment awaits you. Somewhere out there you may find a flash of inspiration, an adrenaline-fueled moment of courage, or an insight that may change all of your doubts into faith. But beware. Don’t focus on the pyramids. The God moment may be passing by in humble attire.

Tags: family, moving, new year, refugees