Text: Matthew 18:1-14
For children everywhere, that they may be blessed
To enter the kingdom as a child
THE FEAST OF THE INNOCENTS, or Childermas, remembers the deaths of infant and toddler boys on the orders of Herod as he seeks to eliminate the new-born king and rival to him, who has been taken by his parents to Egypt. In this story is an echo of another story involving Egypt: the order by the Pharaoh that the first-born sons of the Israelites be killed to prevent a people in slavery from growing too strong.
This story puts to death two fond notions that we have about our Lord Jesus and about children. The first is that Jesus is no threat, that his ministry, his Lordship, his life can be received without cost. Simeon in the Temple (Luke 2) had it right: this child is destined for the rising and falling of many, and the truth of every human heart will no longer be hidden but revealed. The second is our romance-tinged notion about childhood. The truth is that the sins of adults and the evils they choose fall hardest on children, who, in Jesus’ example, are the very embodiment of “the least of these” that he will lift up in Matthew 25. Powerless themselves, children are a sign of our own weakness and dependence on God, who knows and sees all his children, and will act to bring justice on their behalf.
In this time of Christmas cheer, let us give thanks that our God has seen us!
May you know Christmas joy ~ Pr. Dave Brooks