Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Holy Innocents-2016



When Herod realized he had been duped by the astrologers, he was outraged. He then issued a death warrant for all the male children in Bethlehem and surrounding region two years old and younger. this corresponded to the time [of the star] that he had learned from the astrologers. With this event the prediction made by Jeremiah the prophet came true: 'In Ramah the sound of mourning and bitter grieving was heard: Rachel weeping for her children. She refused to be consoled: They were no more.' " (Matthew 2: 16-18, SV)

But then consider how the medieval drama called "The Play of Herod" ends: the escape to Egypt, the hasty retreat of the magi, then the intrusion of the military into the village. The children are murdered and Rachel - the biblical mother - weeps and laments. A comforter is sent by God, but she refuses to be comforted because her children are no more. But this is not the end of the play. Did they somehow invent a happy ending? Nothing of the kind. The ending is not happy, it is a great mystery. For there is a Te Deum sung: "We praise you, God, we confess you as Lord." The greatest chant of praise. This is sung by Mary and Joseph, processing through the audience, but they are joined in their song and procession by the animals and the angels, by the shepherds, by the lamenting Rachel and the parents of Bethlehem, and they are joined by the soldiers and their victims and by Herod. Knowing that (Hopkins again)


we are wound
With mercy round and round. . . .


they all, incarnate God and all creation, even death, tyrants and martyrs, all process and all sing praise. And we sing too, and find ourselves in the procession.

Today we can't imagine it. We take our Christmas with lots of sugar. And take it in a day. Though we've been baptized into his death, we have little time for or patience with how that death is told at Christmas, a death that confuses lament and praise forever. And no wonder we are careful to keep Christmas at an arm's length. What is Herod in these times?"--Gabe Huck

WE remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer

O Christ, son of the living God, have mercy upon us.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us;
And deliver us for thy Name's sake.

AMEN.

O Christ, when thou didst open thine eyes on this fair earth, the angels greeted thee as the Prince of Peace and besought us to be of good will toward one another; but thy triumph is delayed and we are weary of war.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the very earth groans with pain as the feet of armed men march across thy mangled form.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, may the Church, whom thou didst love into life; not fail thee in her witness for the things for which thou didst live and die.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the people who are called by thy Name are separated from each other in thought and life; still our tumults, take away our vain imaginings, and grant to thy people at this time the courage to proclaim the gospel of forgiveness, and faithfully to maintain the ministry of reconciliation.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER

O Christ, come to us in our sore need and save us;
O God, plead thine own cause and give us help, for vain is the help of man.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ of God, by thy birth in the stable, save us and help us;
By thy toil at the carpenter's bench, save us and help us;
By thy sinless life, save us and help us;
By thy cross and passion, save us and help us.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

--E&R Hymnal

1 Comments:

Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

A few years back I read that modern estimates of the number of boys beneath the age of two in Bethlehem might have been about six or eight. If the story is true a slaughter by Herod the Wicked would have been one of his lesser bloodbaths. It's kind of odd to read the debunking of it due to one or another aristocratic writer not including it in their histories. Josephus is often mentioned in that, though there are plenty of things he left out because that are known to have happened. Even for him a piddling slaughter of six or eight babies in the ongoing periodic blood lettings of Herod would hardly have been worth mentioning. Not to mention how it would have been seen by Greek or Roman pagan historians, in both cultures infanticide was legal and common and even encouraged.

I can't say my faith hinges on the story but it is, actually, quite a plausible idea that it might have happened. They could certainly stand in for the enormous number of infants and toddlers sacrificed to the view of people as objects and the aristocracy favoring inequality that fell heaviest on the very young.

It's more believable than that many-worlds cosmology I twisted a few knickers mocking.

12:34 PM  

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