Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A week until Christmas...

...and all I have to do is print out the bulletins. Sermons are prepared. Prayers written. Gifts bought and delivered. I even hung up my one Christmas decoration; a star that my youngest daughter made for me.

And after that, I have to think about Christmas 1A, where we abruptly shift gears, and move from embracing a baby in barn, to mourning the deaths of hundreds of babies, because of that one baby.

There's so much rich  - and terrible - material for the Sunday after Christmas in Matthew's Year.  The story is both raw and real. The baby Jesus barely has time to soil his first diapers before he is smuggled into Egypt as a refugee.

This story is kind of a reversal of Caiaphas' claim that it is better to have one person die for the people. (John 18:4), since many had died for the sake of the one. And some ask why didn't or couldn't stop the slaughter of those children. But this story is clearly an echo of the night in Egypt when the Angel of Death killed the first born sons of those who didn't have lamb's blood over their doorposts.

But I'm not fully sure what that connection means. But what I do know is that we understand killing. We're familiar with those who use their standings for their own awful ambitions, and we can tell other stories of those who use terrible means to maintain or retain their powerful position. This is not news.

So, this baby, this Word Made Flesh, was marked for death right from the beginning, because our human impulse is toward death, so God came that we would have life.

I think there's a start of a sermon in that.

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