Lectionary for Sunday, December 30, 2007:
I’d always known the story of the massacre of the innocents, but I don’t think I had ever given it much thought, until. Until I was in Italy some18 years ago and saw painting after painting depicting the horror.
And so here it is, in the lectionary, right where it should be, after the birth of Jesus.
I am struck by just how much Jesus’ people sacrificed, without their consent, for him. For this messiah who did not turn out to be the one they expected.
It’s easy to choose another passage for this week, but in my congregation that’s the text we’ll be hearing. And I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, there is enough horror in our world. On the other hand, this is the cycle of the church year, and if we edit out the unpleasant parts, what does that say about us?
What will you be preaching this Sunday?
Who Says , by Julia Hartwig
Translated from the Polish
While the innocents were being massacred who says
that flowers didn’t bloom, that the air didn’t breather bewildering scents
that birds didn’t rise to the heights of their most accomplished songs
that young lovers didn’t twine in love’s embraces
But would it have been fitting if a scribe of the time had shown this
and not the monstrous uproar on a street drenched with blood
the wild screams of mothers with infants torn from their arms
the scuffling, the senseless laughter of soldiers
aroused by the touch of women’s bodies and young breast warm with milk
Flaming torches tumbled down stone steps
there seemed no hope of rescue
and violent horror soon gave way to the still more awful numbness of despair
At that moment covered by the southern night’s light shadow
a bearded man leaning on a staff and a girl with a child in her arms
were fleeing lands ruled by the cruel tyrant
carrying the world’s hope to a safer place
beneath silent stars in which these events had been recorded centuries ago