The Holy Innocents
The Holy Innocents
Escape to Egypt
13-15 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt.
Murder of the Bethlehem children
16-17 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:
18 A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving. Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more.
Return from Egypt
19-23 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.
Jesus’s entrance into the world occassions the death of hundreds of infants. (Some Savior!). And it’s really easy for me to read this story and immediately scapegoat Herod, desiring a return volley of violence and punishment for his massacre.
Maybe this is why Matthew includes the prophecy of Rachel in the middle of the story. She’s a mom who refuses the comfort of the world’s justice, because it isn’t real justice: violent punishment on top of violent punishment is just the same sickness. Her grief compels her to cry for something real and lasting and out of this world. A Divine justice that prevents innocent deaths in the first place. A justice for which the cycle violence is short-circuited.
Rachel is God-as-mother. She is the antithesis of Herod 2000+ years ago. And the Herod that I continue to reanimate in my own violent visions of justice today. She cries for each of our friends whose deaths happen far too early than they were supposed to. For each one among us whose humanity is reduced and dignity is denied by systems of inequality.
Rachel knows there’s something better than this. May hers be the hope we choose to reanimate.
Outward Mindset Application
Learn the names of 3 people this week. Connect with them by name, and learn something memorable about each person.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Contemplation (loving the world in thought and adoration): Select 10 minutes each day this week to spend in silent solitude. In your space, reflect on things that are bringing you joy, frustration, and hope.
Questions for Relection
Who do you know who carries a lot of hope for a better future? Where do they find that hope? What is a hope that you have for 2023?
One of our community practices is to gather every Sunday morning for prayer, friendship, and conversation about the week’s Scripture text. Doors open at 10:30am for coffee and donuts. Our circle begins at 11:00am. We’d love to see you there! The Open Table (@ The old DMV) 2640 N Portland Rd Salem, OR 97301
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.