Isaiah 63:7-9. A Psalm of praise for God’s love for God’s people, and God’s deliverance and mercy which carries them.
Psalm 148. A call for creation to praise God, for God’s glory is over all, and God uplifts and strengthens God’s people.
Hebrews 2:10-18. Through Jesus, who became human, like us, and who was tempted, like us, God has brought us, as Christ’s sisters and brothers, into God’s glory.
Matthew 2:13-23. Herod slaughters all boys two years and younger after being outwitted by the wise men, but Jesus and his parents, after being warned by God, have already fled to Egypt. After Herod’s death, they return to the land of Israel and settle in Nazareth.
Rev Tania writes:
This is a tough day in the Lectionary, coming right after the Christmas celebration. While it can be tempting to avoid the obvious difficulties with today’s readings and just stay with expressions of faith and rejoicing in the coming of Christ and the promise of God’s deliverance, even from enemies who would seek to destroy God’s purposes, to do this is to do our people – and the Scriptures – a disservice.
While it is good to affirm that God’s plan of salvation is worked out throughout biblical history, and in our own times and lives, the shocking image of the innocent children who are slaughtered as Christ escapes cannot be avoided. Neither can the reality of the millions of innocent children who die daily through poverty, war, curable diseases and human trafficking.
To ignore this horrific story, or to focus only on Christ’s escape, is to paint God as a heartless manipulator of history, and human beings as expendable pawns.
Rather, the challenge of this passage is to seek to understand the impact that Herod’s cold abuse of power had on Christ and his life. It is to recognise the grief of God in the cry of the mothers who lost their children. And it is to recognise God’s grief for the lost innocents of our world today.
Then, as our hearts are broken, we cannot help but follow Christ into a life of protecting the most vulnerable, and of holding our leaders accountable to justice and integrity for the sake of the poor.
The message of Christmas, then, is not just that God is with us, but that through us, God seeks to be with all people, especially those who are grieving, suffering and marginalised.
Blessings as we be renewed in God with us and God working through us for justice! Amen.