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There is a part of the Christmas story at odds with hope, peace, joy and love of Christmas, a part that can’t be in the Christmas Pageant: the part after the visit of the Magi.
Evil is woven into the tapestry of the Christmas story when Herod orders “the slaughter of the innocents” (Mt. 2:16-17) and Matthew quotes the Prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children. And she will not be comforted, because they are no more.” (Mt. 2:18; Jer. 31:15).
The murders in Newtown, Connecticut reminded me of this part of the Christmas story. The opposing motifs of good and evil in the story reflect the goodness and evil that have always existed in our world. But God’s word directs us to resist evil, and for us that means swimming against the current of our times, rejecting the influences that have made our culture an incubator for violent human behavior.
Many have said we must do more to keep our children safe, but they are usually referring to gun control, while ignoring the only sure control: living by the will of God: the God who weeps with Rachel; the God who weeps for a humanity too self-willed to respect the will of its Creator!
There is so much broken in human behavior and responsibility this world that we are intimidated about trying to repair it. Yet with God’s help we can re-establish our moral moorings, do and teach what is right and obvious, and begin to protect this and future generations of innocents from evil.
The Gospel of Matthew warns us not to avoid the part of the human story that is about evil; the part that stands at such odds with the hope, peace, joy and love of the rest of the Christmas story. And the passage in Jeremiah wherein Rachel weeps for her children does, indeed, reflect our sadness. But notice, just a few verses later: “And there is hope for the future,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:17).
(Kathleen Daniels is the pastor at Dry Ridge Presbyterian. She can be reached at 859-824-5622 or visit the website at www.dryridgepresbyterian.com.)