Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remembering All the Innocents Slaughtered

Today we remember the slaughter of the innocent boys of Bethlehem, killed by Herod as he tries to get rid of any possible competition, even if that competition is newly born and not likely to challenge him for decades.

Will your church be taking part in this somber feast day?  I doubt it.  Your church may be like mine, where we are reprising parts of the Christmas Eve service, so that all the hard work of the choir gets new appreciation.  After all, most of our members came to the 7:30 service, not the 11:00 service where the choir sang.  They should get the chance to hear the Cantata, to sing the songs, to stay in the land of Christmas just a little bit longer.

Part of me understands.  There will be time enough for the darkness later.  Let us linger in the land of light just a bit longer.

Part of me rebels.  Our Gospel writers and early Church leaders put this feast day here for a reason.  I think one of the problems of modern Christianity is that we focus too much on the light, and we neglect to fight the darkness as much as we need to do.

Let us take a minute to think about the modern Herods in our world.  We see no shortage of evil dictators who slaughter whole swaths of the population for a variety of reasons.

Let us take a minute to think about the Holy Family, transformed into refugees, fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs.  Here in our modern world, we see no shortage of people transformed from regular citizens to refugees in just a matter of hours.

Maybe we don't want to think on a huge, global scale.  The human brain was not meant for such horror.  Some of us become immobilized.  But we could help refugees on a smaller scale.

There's always money that we could donate, but maybe we want a more hands-on project.  I stumbled across this blog post about a mom who homeschools and the Christmas project of making Christmas bags for foster children, many of whom leave abusive homes with just the clothes on their backs.

It's also a good day to consider the ways we are Herod.  How do we lash out to protect ourselves?  We may not literally slaughter a whole town of babies, but most of us could do better at nourishing the next generations:  the kids in our churches, the students in our schools, the younger folks in the work force.

Today on this feast day where we remember the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, let us recommit ourselves to love.   We can resolve to let love rule our actions, not fear. We can also resolve to help those who are harmed by the Herods of our world.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the actions of the early church.  These days that honor martyrs coming so close to Christmas--it makes more sense now.  But I also pray for the time that we will not have to remember the horrors that humanity can inflict.  I hold fast to that Christmas vision of light shining in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

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