Some time after Jesus was born, the Magi from the East arrived to worship the Promised One. They had recognized the signs in the heavens and had travelled some distance to see this phenomenon. Having arrived in the general vicinity, they needed some help finding the right location, and so they stopped in to ask the local king.
The king in turn, called the prophets and his own wise men and they told both the king and the Magi that Bethlehem was the prophesied location. Thanks all around, and the Magi travel to Bethlehem to marvel at and worship the Promise.
The king though, seeing this as a threat to his own well-being, knowing now the location and the time of the appearing of the signs, ordered all the boys two years and younger killed. The intent? To eradicate this threat to his kingdom.
In the church calendar, today remembers that slaughter, that attempt to manage and control one’s own destiny through our own might. The world has just remembered with most of Christendom, the coming of that Promise and yet we see around us that same world pushing back against It, trying to ignore It, and hedging themselves away from It. And so, it is no wonder that we see and witness the same sorts of violence, of sidelining, of imaginary fingers in our ears.
In Matthew’s gospel, this massacre, marked by Childermas comes close upon the heals of Christmas itself, to mark the rapidity and amazing suddenness of the world’s almost immediate forgetting of the miracle that we have just remembered. God has come into the world; how quickly the rejoicing turns to grumbling and attack.
Let’s ask though about believers. It’s one thing to observe the world’s reaction and make comments about short memories and human self-assuredness, quite another to ask ourselves the same questions. How long does our remembering last after the presents are opened and the tree is in the mulch pile? Do we return to the “real world” and try to manage it ourselves? Do we rather, let the remembering soak a bit into our hearts and help shape us as part of that Promise?
The New Year is coming and with it resolutions galore. These resolutions will last almost two weeks for most people, a bit longer for others. Perhaps we might just carry the reality of the coming of God into the world with us into January and beyond and return to it over and again so that it shapes us slowly but undeniably into the image of that Promise.