EP: Psalms 19, 126; Isaiah 54:1-13; Mark 10:13-16
Today we remember those children that our tradition tells us were murdered by Herod "the Great" upon his learning of Jesus' birth. This day of remembrance is a hard one. The question that most readily comes to mind with this kind of horror is "Why would God let all those young children be killed?" This event from our tradition not only caused pain to those innocents, but deep loss and sorrow and horror to their families. Where is God in all of this type of loss?
The simplest and most direct answer is "I don't have a clue." But if we think a little bit about this, we might find a different approach. I don't think God caused those children to die. Just like I don't believe God caused, or allowed, the World Trade Center terrorist attacks to happen. I don't believe God caused or allowed all those suicides by gay teens because of the bullying to which they were subjected.
I think those incidents are examples of an absence of God. An absence, a turning away from God and a turning toward a baser human propensity for violence and intolerance and hatred. The Incarnation, this God taking human form, that is the root of our Christmas celebrations, is about God offering each and every one of us the opportunity and choice to turn away from actions and thoughts and a manner of life that is harmful. We are offered the choice of turning toward the innocence of a child in a manger, who is God Incarnate, here to provide a different way to interact in the world. A more difficult manner of life perhaps, but a sure-fire better one. A life-style choice that is centered on community, and love, and caring for all of God's children, no matter who they are: for God created all of us in our wild diversity in order to revel in those majestic differences.
The deeper, and perhaps more appropriately nuanced question in regard to today's remembrance is not "How could God let"..... but "How can we change people (and ourselves) and turn them toward that Godly-innocence found in a manger, thereby changing the world?" Jesus' presence here announces the kingdom, come here on earth, for all of us. Who can we invite into this kingdom today?
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.