Advent Burns & Advent Stings 7
Finally, the stinging discordance of the season is heard in the hysterical lament of the powerless as Herod, seeking to hold onto his position orders the death of every boy child under the age of two. He did it, sensing the threat from a new infant king, whose way held within it the beginnings of his destruction.
On coming to the house, the Magi saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
This is not how we would expect the coming of the Messiah, to be. It’s not how
we would have designed it. Surely it wasn’t supposed to result in the genocide of innocent children, untainted by the Empire’s greed. If God was intent on establishing his kingdom, surely there was some other way?
How about overwhelming numbers in a sea invasion from the Mediterranean. Shock and awe in the skies over the palaces of kings, loud enough to silence the rough-tongued Romans and the crazed rantings of their Jewish paramilitary opponents. But that wasn’t God’s way.
Yes he was bringing freedom, in fact he’d planned for it for generations, and through Abraham and Moses and David, through Egyptian captivity and Babylonian exile he kept his plan on course. But just when he judged the time was right, just when all the clocks aligned for the miraculous appearance of Messiah and his ascent to power, what we have is mass murder.
No days of national celebration for the birth of this king, instead the countryside resounds to the echo of Rachael weeping for her children.
A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachael weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more.
She was not the first nor the last, for many had wept before her and since. Mothers in Mexico and Bangladesh for husbands, sons and daughters swept away by floods. Mothers in Northern Uganda, who weep over the kidnap and sacrifice of their children in the madness of war. Mothers in China, and Burma whose children are silenced mercilessly. Weeping for all innocent lives terrorised in the world today.
A voice is heard in Ramah, and in all places of sadness, it is the voice of God, who as a Mother has seen the pain and loss of her children, and remembers each one.
Gracious God, in your Motherly heart you share the pain of all those who grieve this Advent season. Keep them in your kindness and your grace. Minister healing to them. And in all those places where the vulnerable are exploited for the greedy desires of the powerful will you establish your justice. Now and forever. Amen
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