This is an extra blog beyond my regular Sunday offering, from an alternate blog site I write to once a month. The theme for that site this month was our favourite Christmas story Character. but I thought what follows was most appropriate
As I reflect on the events of the past week, my heart is drawn to the parents of Bethlehem, who are such a tragic part of the Christmas story.
Herod adopted Pharaoh’s tactic, killing boys in a ruthless bid to maintain his status. Fearing Jesus might be a contender to his throne, Herod ordered the slaying of all boys two and younger in Bethlehem, hoping to ensure the end of Jesus the Messiah.
Al Assad of Syria has killed forty thousand of his own people in a similar bid to retain power. Thousands of them were children. We can also recall Congo, Sudan, Serbia, and places of other atrocities; part of the continued slaughter of children.
Nor have the girls escaped. Across India and China, millions of girls are killed simply because the parents want boys to support them in old age. In addition, two million children worldwide now live and die in squalid conditions of sexual trafficking.
The west, that trumpets it compassion for the world, is not innocent either. Canada slaughters a hundred thousand living children in the womb every year, mostly for convenience. Proportionately, the United States kills a million a year of its population; that’s still a fraction of the world’s total.
The tragic events of Newtown CN are a symptom of the insatiable search for personal recognition. When legitimate means fail, killing is the ultimate assertion of power; whether by kings or the young killer of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Matthew describes the aftermath of Herod’s rampage: “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,” Matthew 2:18. But it’s also the lament of many millions; before and since—and now.
But Matthew’s quote is from Jeremiah 31, a great chapter of God’s final reign of peace and justice. Then, He says, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people,” Jeremiah 31:33.
The children will be safe. “The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” Isaiah 11:8–9
And as Jesus called the little ones to Him, so he gathers the children who have gone before. They have not ceased to exist. Bethlehem’s mothers and fathers are already reunited with their children. The joy of Christmas is the glorious hope that those we have lost here, children or adults, will be waiting for us.