I've been working on a sermon for tomorrow on the text from Matthew 2:13-23, which tells the story of the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. I've also spent some time researching Herod the Great, who was not called that because of his kindly nature. In preparation, I finally got around to watching the movie The Nativity this afternoon. While not the greatest movie I've seen, it does a good job of portraying life in Judea at the time of Jesus' birth. I'm actually going to talk about Matthew's report of the murder of children under the age of two in Bethlehem, which is pretty grim stuff, especially for a grandmother with grandchildren that age. I nonetheless kept finding myself pulled back to this passage in particular. I like Rev. Dr. William Willimon's take on this passage in his 1998 sermon as well as Rev. Joy Carol Wallis' in her sermon, Putting Herod Back in Bethlehem. This is the world that we live in, one where the innocent are violated regularly by the powerful. It's also a world where all of us have sinned and too often seek what we want when we want it, rather than trusting in God. Jesus came into that world, not into some sanitized Christmas card version, but a real world of suffering and pain. We have hope because Christ has overcome the powers of sin and darkness in this world, not some mythical, magical place, but the real sinful world in which we live. That's Good News to take into the coming New Year.
Grace and Peace,