In December, Christians delight in lifting from the gospels the most iconic moments of the Christmas story: the angelic visits, shepherds flooded in glory-light, Mary and Joseph silhouetted beside a manger. By contrast, we often glide over one particularly dark part of the narrative: the tragedy of slain baby boys in Bethlehem that followed the birth of Jesus.
The slaughter of innocent babies and toddlers is a theme we’d rather not think about—especially at Christmas time. However, loss, death, and darkness are essential parts of the nativity story and serve to underscore the broader picture of Christ’s coming to save a broken world. The darling of all holidays, celebrated with abandon by the church and retailers alike, commemorates a story that happened in the context of genocide, and this somber knowledge prepares our hearts to move beyond the manger to the cross.
It’s a great gift to be teaming up today with Red Letter Christians in an invitation to reflect on this often overlooked passage of Scripture. Perhaps the early darkness of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is the ideal setting in which to pause from our seasonal hoopla, and remember Holy Innocents Day, December 28th, the space in the church calendar in which, historically, believers entered into a moment of mourning for these lost children, and reflected on their theological significance to the larger Christmas story.
Thanks for joining me at Red Letter Christians today, where readers are encouraged to take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture.
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