Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fourth Day of Christmas: The Holy Innocents

The fourth day of Christmas is the day of the Holy Innocents.In the festivity and family get togethers this feast comes out of left field. it commemorates the incident recorded only in Matthew's Gospel (2:13-23) of Herod's massacre of the young newly born males in Bethlehem.This feast dates from the 5th Century.
The day is rich in political and religious meaning. The violence against children has not diminished in the pages of history. We are confronted by the stories and institutional violence exposed in  The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The children of well as those caught up in the Srebrenica massacre,and the child victims of the Rwanda genocide are only a few of the tragic litany of violence in our own day.
The detention of children from families of refugees and asylum seekers has stirred us into political protest and public shaming of our Government leaders.
Yet in the midst of all this ancient and contemporary horror a cry goes out from our Christmas celebrations that "God is with Us'. For the one who comes among us as a vulnerable child has broken the cycle of human violence in the image of a man on a the cross.
Mothers will weep for the lost children of our history and fathers will grieve with heavy hearts. But our belief is that the killing, the abuse, the exploitation and neglect of children is a political situation we can change.
This is also a religious moment when we recognize that God is there in the midst of suffering, bleeding, crying and abandoned because the cycle of violence has been broken by the prince of peace.
The "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. The carol was performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod orders all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play

Sermon for the Day Very Revd Peter Catt
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