The Flight to Egypt
children are invited to the front to hear the story of Mary and Joseph's
flight to Egypt.
- The story
is read in three parts, pausing after each for a discussion of its
- An adult
to lead the discussion.
readings - see script, below.
illustrate the second part: a toy truck with three figures in the front
(representing Mary, Joseph and Jesus) and various items on the back such
as a doll's house (or similar) toilet, bath, beds, and anything else you
happen to have. It doesn't matter precisely which items you use.
You could use pictures of them instead, if you don't have the appropriate
the readers at the start of the service.
- After the
first reading, draw out the children's knowledge of what happened
next. Wise men found the star
over the place where Jesus lay. They were filled with
"indescribable joy" and worshipped him and gave him gifts of gold,
incense and myrrh. You might remind the children of what the gifts meant
- Jesus as king, priest and sacrifice. What happened next? The wise men
were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went home a
- After the
second reading, talk about how long the journey was for Joseph and Mary
with baby Jesus: 200 miles from Bethlehem to Egypt. What would
that have been like? This is where you can use your little toys or
pictures to illustrate all the things that they would not have
had. You might pretend that you think you've done a good job of
illustrating what it might have been like for Mary and Joseph: "Look,
here's all the things they might have taken with them - a toilet . . . "
etc., so that the children can correct you and eventually work out that
they'd have had very little support, for a journey which was probably
made largely on foot. And then, what would it have been like for them in
Egypt? They had left everything behind. There were Jewish communities
there and it was a traditional place of refuge, but they'd have found a
different language, culture, values . . . When we hear about or see
refugees in the news, we know that Jesus understands what it is like for
them, because He has been there too.
- After the
third reading, talk about Joseph's obedience: when he first found out
about Jesus, when he was warned in a dream to go to Egypt - and then,
when he'd nicely settled there with his family, when he was told in
another dream to go back to Israel. Do we always do what we know is the right thing to
do, or what we feel God wants us to do when we've prayed to him about
something? Even if it is hard to do?
- When we
reflect on how God watched over Jesus, and see His plans unfolding, we
can be reassured that He does the same for us. We might not always
be able to understand His plans, but they were laid down long before we
were even born. Consider how Mary and Joseph probably funded their
journey - via the wise men's gifts, which surely neither the wise men
themselves nor Mary and Joseph could have possibly foreseen. Our actions
might be involved in God's plans for someone else. If we try our best to
obey Him, then He will care for us as He cared for Joseph and Mary and
born in Bethlehem, in Judea, in the days when Herod was king of the
birth wise men came from the east, making for Jerusalem and enquiring as
they went, "Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? For we
saw his star in the east and we have come to worship him."
Herod heard about this he was deeply worried. He invited the wise
men to meet him privately. He told them, "When you have found this little
child report back to me, so that I may go and worship him too."
had gone the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get
up now, take the little child and his mother and escape to Egypt.
Stay there until I tell you. For Herod means to seek out the child and kill
got up, and taking the child and his mother with him set off for Egypt that
same night, where he remained until Herod's death.
saw that he had been fooled by the wise men he was furiously angry.
He issued orders for the execution of all male children of two years and
under in Bethlehem and the surrounding district - basing his calculation on
his careful questioning of the wise men.
Herod's death an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
and said, "Now get up and take the infant and his mother with you and go
into the land of Israel. For those who sought the child's life are
got up and took the little child and his mother with him and journeyed
towards the land of Israel. But when he heard the Archelaus was now
reigning as king in Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid
to enter the country. Then he received warning in a dream to turn aside
into the district of Galilee and came to live in a small town called
[These readings are adapted from J. B.
Phillips's translation of Matthew 2: 1-8, 13-16 & 19-23, taken from
"The New Testament in Modern English", Revised Edition,
1958, 1960, 1972]