Monday, December 08, 2014

Sing Christmas Dec 8

Unto us a boy is born!
King of all creation,
Came he to a world forlorn,
The Lord of ev’ry nation.

Cradled in a stall was he
Watched by cows and asses:
But the very beasts could see
That he the world surpasses.

Then the fearful Herod cried
“pow’r is mine in Jewry!”
So the blameless children died
the victims of his fury.

Now may Mary's Son, who came
Long ago to love us,
Lead us all with hearts aflame
Unto the joys above us.

Omega and Alpha he!
Let the organ thunder
While the choir with peals of glee
shall rend the air asunder!

Anon: 15th century trans. Percy Dearmer 1867-1936

This recording is of the original Latin version of the carol, Puer Nobis

The massacre of the children of Bethlehem by King Herod rarely makes it into our nativity plays, for obvious reasons, but it is a vital part of the story told by Matthew (Matthew 2.16-18). It emphasises the vulnerability of Jesus, who, like all children is at the mercy of forces way beyond his ability to control or even understand. Jesus is born into a world ruled by a despot, Herod, who was notoriously insecure about his position as ruler of Judea; he even had some of his own children killed because he feared their power. Although there is no independent evidence for a massacre in Bethlehem, it is not beyond the realms of possibility; it was the kind of thing that happened, and Matthew must have known this when he wrote his story.
Unlike the rest of the children of Bethlehem, Jesus escaped death on this occasion, taking refuge in Egypt. He would not be so lucky later though. Another Herod, this king’s son, was instrumental in the process that condemned him to death on the cross. But the carol reminds us that God was at work, even in this saddest story of “a world forlorn”, and that life and love have the last word. Jesus is raised from death. God cannot be defeated by the evil of the world.

·         Watch or listen to the news today. As you hear or see people who are the victims of evil, pray for them, and for the perpetrators of evil.
·         What do we lose by omitting this dark story from our traditional tellings of the nativity? We may understandably want to protect children from it, but why do we shy away from it as adults, if you think we do?

Bible Reading: Jesus said: “It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17.2

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