Summary: Christmas, the Massacre of the Innocents, and Abortion.
Sermon: Aborting Christmas
Text: Matt 2:13-18
Occasion: Holy Innocents
Who: Mark Woolsey
Where: Providence REC
When: Sunday, Jan 21, 2007 (which is really Epiphany III)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable n Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and redeemer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Zachariasï¿½ vision, John the Baptistï¿½s birth announcement, Zacharias muted, ancient Elizabeth pregnant, the Annunciation, the Magnificat, a virgin with child, John the Baptist ï¿½genuflectsï¿½ in utero, Johnï¿½s birth, a tongue loosened, the census imposed, Bethlehem visited, Inns full, the stable birthing room, Jesus born, the feeding trough, an angel army, shepherds run, circumcision, Simeon rejoices, Anna evangelizes, ï¿½3 wise guysï¿½ worship, Joseph dreams, and a family flees. There. I think Iï¿½ve presented the whole Christmas story in one sentence, having listed every significant event. And yet, I left one thing out. Iï¿½ve left a hole in Christmas. Christmas isnï¿½t complete without it. Not only did I leave it out, but itï¿½s left out of almost every Christmas play & every nativity story, sacred or secular. Although today there is a minor feast to commemorate this event, at the time it originally happened, it was probably the most intense few hours of the sequence. Itï¿½s pathos rivals that of the culmination of Holy Week, and it reveals an aspect of the Christmas season that comes out in no other way. When incorporated instead of ignored, it corrects serious misconceptions in our celebrations. It moves Christmas out of Sunday school and into the dark alleys & tough places of life. If this season were a movie, including this scene would change the rating from "G" to "PG-13" or "R".
Of course, the missing event in this Christmas litany is the slaughter of the innocents at the order of King Herod. It comes to us in the Book of Common Prayer as the collect and propers for "The Holy Innocents".
II. King Herod
King Herod does not come down to us as a name of honor in spite of the fact that heï¿½s often called ï¿½the Greatï¿½. You might be surprised to find out, then, that he came from a pious family. Although neither his father nor mother was a Jew, his father worshipped the Jewish God. His father was also a friend of some high-placed officials in Judea, and sided with a Roman faction in their successful struggle to gain control over the area. In return he became the ï¿½power behind the throneï¿½. He started his son Herod on his political career, getting him appointed governor of Galilee at 16. In the beginning Herod even gained the favor of the people by going after bandits that were terrorizing the area. However, his political life became a soap opera, rising and falling from power until finally he was forcefully installed by the Romans as King Herod. He executed some fantastic building projects, including the Temple in Jerusalem where our Lord worshipped, and which Jesus even called His Fatherï¿½s house. However, one online encyclopedia (Jona Lendering, http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodians/herod_the_great01.html) relates concerning Herod that: