The Dark Side of Christmas
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, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Matthew 2:16
Christmas is not always a joyous celebration for everyone. Some people do not have family with whom they can celebrate. Some people have sad and difficult memories associated with Christmas. Still others find Christmas a time of stress, anxiety, or just more work. The Church’s calendar has a dark date on it around Christmas. On December 28, the Church remembers those young boys who were struck down by Herod’s soldiers as he had them search for the Christchild.
The slaughter of the innocents is the bitter part of what most would agree is a sweet sounding story. However, the death of those children remind us that the child had come to suffer a similar fate. He is the One of whom Isaiah prophesied would be “pierced for our transgressions.” Though these young boys would die as a result of a cruel world and leaders who do not value life, Jesus Christ came to give His life for these young boys, their parents and family, but ultimately for all the world. While most of the Christmas carols we sing are joyful, I have always appreciated the bittersweet words of “What Child Is This.” Each year we sing of the Christchild who came to suffer with these words, “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, The cross be borne for me for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The babe, the son of Mary.” (LSB 370, v. 2)
Many of us may experience sadness even at Christmas. However, may we be reminded that though those boys died in place of Jesus, He came to die for them and rise that they too might live with forever. There will always be people who experience great celebrations with grieving hearts this side of heaven. Jesus came for the purpose of suffering so that one day we will be part of a great celebration that has no end. In the resurrection on the last day there will be no more mourning, crying, or sadness anymore because the old order of things will have passed away and God will have made all things new in Christ. Therefore, we look forward to that great celebration that is yet to come and the day when there will be no more darkness, but only Christ, who is our light.
Prayer - O God, your martyred innocents declared your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death all vices within us that by our deeds our lives may confess your faith which our tongue utters; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan