The Holy Innocents of Our Day
- The Rev. Bob Dannals
- Jan 18, 2018
- Category: General
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The Magi are by far the most exotic characters in the Christmas story; they have inspired literature, art and music, from O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi” and T. S. Eliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi,” to traditional Christmas pageants in churches (ours at Holy Innocents’ was wonderful!); from Hollywood-like productions with live animals to the bathrobe dramas immortalized in Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Garrison Keillor, with his amazing imagination, writes about the Magi in “Life among the Lutherans”: “Of all the characters in the Christmas story, they’re the only ones who probably weren’t Jewish but rather gentile.” Keillor thinks the Magi may have been Lutherans because they brought myrrh, which everyone knows is “a sort of casserole made from hamburger and macaroni.”
Of course, the “Magi story” as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel is no easy, soft seasonal epic. We’re told that when the Magi asked King Herod “Where is he who was born king?”, that the King “was troubled.” That’s one of those biblical understatements. Inwardly Herod is shaken to the core. After the Magi were persuaded in a dream to take another route home, Herod’s blood thirsty anger erupted, and he ordered every innocent baby boy in the surrounding region to be murdered. And so they were!
This Sunday, January 21st, we will observe (the official date is December 28) the solemn Feast of the Holy Innocents, our name’s sake. We realize again that Christ’s manifestation in the world has something to do with confronting evil of every kind, especially as it it focused on the innocents of our world — those who are most vulnerable and marginalized.
For many years, Holy Innocents’ has drawn attention to this cause — To hold up the vital interests of those most vulnerable in our day. One of the several ways this parish has sought to recognize and value the belovedness of God’s children is to be present at the burials of children in our county who have been left out, abandoned, forgotten. As one expression of our concern, members of our mission and outreach community observe a vigil the night before the feast day. This year that will be held this Saturday night, January 20.
Later in his life, Jesus looking into the darkness of his society declared himself to be the “light of the world.” As we follow his example in our day, may each of us be found shedding the gospel light for those who are “holy” and “innocent” in our world.