The Holy Family were Refugees

The Feast of the Epiphany, Year C
Intergenerational Gospel Lesson
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

This week, the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which begins the six-week season of Epiphany. Epiphany recognizes the manifestation of the divine in Jesus and recalls the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the tyranny of King Herod, who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem.

Forced to flee, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus became what we now call refugees.

The Holy Family’s experience is mirrored today in the plight of more than 60 million displaced persons worldwide, including at least 19 million refugees. Many are in camps or cities in places such as Rwanda, Kenya and Jordan, hoping that someday it will be safe enough to return to their communities. Some, however, find that they must journey to a new country to begin again. For 70,000 refugees in 2015, that journey brought them to the United States.

The journey of a refugee is never easy. Someday these journeys may no longer be necessary; someday persecution and violence may cease to drive displacement and rob refugees of their communities and nations.

Until that day, please join Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) in working toward safer, brighter futures for refugees.

For more than 75 years, the Episcopal Church has welcomed and supported refugees in the United States. Working in partnership with Episcopal faith communities as well as with local governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and a network of 30 affiliate offices, Episcopal Migration Ministries provides safe passage, vital services, hospitality and friendship for thousands of refugee families resettling in the U.S. every year.

If you would like to learn more about particular groups of people The Episcopal Church and other resettlement agencies resettle, you can find up to date statistics on the status of refugees in the world using this link: Finally, if you have time, research the status of refugees in your community. Use the EMM network affiliate map to identify a resource in your area:

Over four weeks – January 3, 10, 24 and 31 – Episcopal Migration Ministries is providing bulletin inserts and Lesson Plans That Work that will help you learn more about the plight of the refugee and how you can join this life-saving and life-giving ministry.

To learn more about supporting refugee resettlement on a local level, contact Allison Duvall, Episcopal Migration Ministries manager for Church Relations and Engagement, or visit

Download the intergenerational lesson plan for Epiphany.

LPTW EMM Epiphany, Year C, Intergenerational


  1. Judith Bertling says:

    I am somewhat troubled that you present the Holy family as refugees in this lesson plan.. As I understand it, they were not. They were simply away from their home to fulfill their duty to pay taxes. I have been a Sunday school director/teacher for over 50 years. As we know generally, the bible is not literal, but a guide for our lives. It is difficult enough to teach this principle with out people stretching or reinterpreting the lessons of the bible to suit their message. I may be mistaken, and my apologies if I am, but it very much feels like that is what is taking place in this lesson.
    I am rarely disappointed in your lessons and have used them at our church for several years.
    However, I do think focusing on MME for the Advent season is a bit much.
    Thanks for listening!
    Blessings, Judy

    • Shannon Kelly says:

      Thank you for your feedback. Jesus and his family became refugees when they were on the run from Herod who was killing all the first born male children. They fled to Egypt to flee the violence in their homeland. They were displaced much like many refugees are today. I hope you enjoy the other lessons offered during this season.

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