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Matthew 2:13-18


Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."  And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."


Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:  "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."(ESV)








Slaughter of the Innocents All Over Again 

Monday of Christmas 1

29 December 2014

The slaughter of the holy innocents (commemorated yesterday, 28 December) seems such a jarring thing to be part of Christmas (Mt 2:13-188). Christmas is supposed to be visions of sugar plumbs dancing in our heads. The scene of Herod's professional killers tracking down every male child 2-years-old and younger and slaughtering them is obscene and offensive to our sensibilities. How could God have permitted such a thing to invade our happy Christmas thoughts? Where was God in all this?


Once again, we are blaming someone other than ourselves for human wickedness; and most blasphemously we are blaming the one who saves us from such wickedness. Human wickedness must be attributed to human depravity. What human madness to blame our gracious God for what is our own most grievous fault! Shame on us for this double blasphemy!


Yet, we must ask how many innocents were slaughtered in the last few days? How many children were abused or mutilated by sexually depraved persons or by the perversely "religious"? How many infants did "compassionate" people claiming to be doctors dismember? How many youths strapped on explosives intent upon blowing others to smithereens and themselves into the arms of 70 appropriately mutilated virgins? Upon further review, Herod is a mere piker in comparison to our own maniacs.


A God who comes into the world populated by those who are willing to slaughter innocents on the altar of their own manias, is a God who is willing to put Himself on the line for the wicked. He came to a world broken by humans, that He might forgive those humans who have such a need for mercy. There is plenty of human violence in this world even today. It is amazing that God should have looked down upon the world so abused by humans and decided that He should send His Son to rescue it. We need that assurance today even more than when Herod's slaughter swept over Bethlehem.


Martin Luther


"At about the time Christ was to be born poor Mary was living far from Jerusalem in the insignificant little town of Nazareth, while in Jerusalem wicked men were the rulers. Therefore the tribe [of Christ] is correctly compared to a dead trunk (Is 11:1). Nevertheless, because God cannot lie, that hopeless root brought forth a shoot.


"And still Satan does not leave off from his cruelty, hatred, and hostility against the Seed of the woman. When He has been placed into His cradle, Satan makes a search for Him through Herod, so that Christ has to live among the Gentiles in Egypt. Later on he tries everything, and also tempts Him, until, when He had been seized in the garden, he delivers Him up to the Jews and attaches Him to the cross. But not even by His death can Satan's inexhaustible hatred be satisfied. He fears Him after He has been buried. So bitter is his enmity against the Son of God! Now when he sees Him sitting at the right hand of God and being what is called "out of range," he rages with every kind of fury against the poor members of His church. There are prophecies here of all these dangers; nevertheless, we ought to sojourn among them with good courage and with confidence in the Son of God, who is crushing Satan."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 3.15


Collect for Holy Innocents 

Almighty God, whose praise was proclaimed on this day by the wicked death of innocent children, giving us thereby a picture of the death of your beloved Son, mortify and destroy in us all that is in conflict with You that we who have been called in faith to be Your children may in life and death bear witness to Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


 For all those who are kept in bondage to the bloody manias of false religion, that they may be set free by the mercy of Christ the Lord, who becomes incarnate to redeem our flesh


 For those who doubt the power of God to redeem this evil world, that they would be converted to the peace of Christ the Lord


For Christ's people, that their hearts might be glad in this season of the incarnation of Christ

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Nativity c. 1515

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057