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 Christmas isn’t just about a baby; Christmas is about an exiled people finding home.

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Read Matthew 1:1-17

Imagine the enemy’s army approaching the gates of your city. Fear, pulsating through your veins. Life, about to change forever. The city gates fall, and you’re forced to walk miles – beaten, separated from your family and friends, and exhausted beyond belief. Now, arriving at your new ‘home’ you realize reality will never be the same.

Exile. It may be hard to relate to because it’s not something many of us in the United States have probably ever experienced, but it’s a reality for many in the world today. People driven from their homelands suffering the loss of their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for what life would be like. While exile might be foreign to us, it was not foreign to the Israelite people. They were refugees driven from their homes. In 586, the Babylonians stood at the gates of Jerusalem, tore them down, destroyed the city, and took the nation 500 miles away where they were forced to establish a completely new life.

When Matthew introduces us to the story of Jesus, he includes exile as a part of his narrative. In Matthew 1:17 he writes, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” Exile is a part of the Christmas narrative because exile is where Jesus steps into our story. Christmas isn’t just about a baby; Christmas is about an exiled people finding home.

While the reality of physical exile is something you’ve probably never experienced, the feeling of exile is something you might relate to. Perhaps you’ve felt exiled from hope deep within your soul. Maybe you’ve waited for rain to fall on the deserts of life. Is life unsettled? Expectations unmet? Hopes unfulfilled? Exile isn’t just a state of reality – it’s a state of being. Life right now might feel like the wilderness, but the birth of the savior declares that rescue is coming. Christmas reminds us that hope is on its way. Home can be found once again.

As Advent begins, listen to the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel and pay attention to the lyrics about exile and captivity. Consider the many people experiencing this state of reality even today.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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By Ryan Paulson

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