Flight to Egypt by Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock.com

This story is inspired by Matthew 2:13–15.

Perhaps Joseph awakes to the sound of Mary humming a lullaby. Mary holds her baby close, rocking as she sits. The corners of Jesus’ mouth turn up in a smile reflex.

“Mary, my darling,” Joseph says, “we’re going to have to travel again.”

Mary looks up with surprise. “What do you mean?”

“I had a dream again last night,” Joseph confides. “It was like the dream I had when it became clear that we should marry. Now God is revealing that we must get out of here. Herod is going to try to kill our son.”

Mary’s eyes widen. Joseph’s face is lined with concern. Mary longs to return home to her mother’s help with Jesus. Mary’s deepest desire, however, is to protect God’s Son from harm.

As Mary ponders, the magi enter to say goodbye.

“We’ve been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,” says one.

“He will try to kill this king,” says another.

Mary looks to Joseph. “It’s confirmation of your dream,” she says.

“We will wait for the cover of darkness,” Joseph says.

As the magi bid farewell, Joseph turns to Mary and says, “We dare not stop until we get to Egypt.”

“Egypt?” Mary asks in surprise. “I didn’t pack for a long journey. I thought we would only stay in Bethlehem a short time.”

“I know, my love,” says Joseph. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Our own country is no longer safe for us. And we can’t tell anyone where we’re headed, because the government will track us down if they find out.”

Deep down, Mary knows everything will be OK. Fear is useless. “Let me know what needs to be done,” she says.

Joseph nods grimly and touches her forehead lovingly. “It’s a good thing we have the magi’s gifts. Gold will help us make the journey. And I can trade some myrrh and frankincense for supplies as we need them.”

“How long will we be walking?” Mary asks.

“I’m not sure,” Joseph admits. “Several days. Maybe weeks.”

Mary inhales deeply. Joseph shakes his head. “I didn’t expect that raising the Messiah would begin with so many difficulties. Will you be all right while I go make preparations?”

“Of course,” Mary says. “Look who is here with me and Jesus.”

She looks at you. Do you offer help to Mary? How?

Mary musters all her energy to collect her few belongings into a pack.

A shepherd enters with some flasks of water and a parcel with bread. “Joseph asked me to bring these to you,” he says. “Why are you leaving? Where will you go? We thought you would stay here, with us.”

“It is not to be,” Mary responds.

The shepherd persists. “Why would God announce the birth of the Messiah with angels and visions and a star and then whisk this boy away?”

“Somehow, this will magnify God,” Mary responds.

The Messiah is about to disappear into obscurity for a time. His short meeting with the shepherds will change their lives, but how? Will the shepherds return to life as it was while knowing the Messiah has been born—and was among them? When and under what circumstances will they—and I—encounter the Messiah again?