Reflections: December 28, 2020
The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
By Bradley Drew
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under. (Matthew 2:16a)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "We wish you a merry Christmas, we. . ." "Once again we interrupt your Christmas cheer by bringing you another special report: King Herod had all male babies two years and younger in and around Bethlehem put to death." Another intrusion into our Christmas cheer?
Yes. But again, lest it trouble us, it is always helpful to remember the world's cruel and senseless hatred toward God. Even from His birth, the world has wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Why? Herod epitomizes why. We are desperate to hold on to whatever illusion of power and control we think we have in this life. Any threat to that is perceived as a threat to self.
The Law accuses everyone, not just Herod, of such idolatry (Romans 2:1). For what is sin but an attempted assault on God's will and rule in this world, a cruel and senseless attempt to wrest control from Him and to give it to ourselves, where we think it belongs? So thinks the Herod in all of us.
What glad tidings, then, are announced to all at Christmas. For in sending Jesus, God has prepared the perfect sacrifice for all of our sin (Isaiah 53:6). See your idolatry, then, with Jesus, all of it, especially as He suffers and dies for you on the Cross.
And as you watch God stepping forth into human flesh as a baby, see God taking control of all history, even for those "Holy Innocents." As today's Collect teaches, they showed forth God's praise "not by speaking but by dying."
The Herod in me insists that I am only alive when I am the one doing, not the one being done to. I bet the Herod in you feels the same. Christmas calls us away from such idolatry back to the manger, to worship the God who is so in control that He sends forth a Child to bring His love, His forgiveness, His eternal salvation to all. For having entered our flesh, the only truly Innocent One has forever returned all sinners to God.
You are alive, now, even from the womb. That is God's promise in His Word, in His water, and at His Supper. It's the promise of Christmas to all. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Feast of Holy Innocents, Martyrs)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
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