Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Pageant, a Feast, a Funeral and a Wedding

Grace and greetings.

A pageant, a feast, a funeral and a wedding; that is how we will be finishing out the year 2007 at Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church. In a way, it is almost like the scripture reading tonight, (Matthew 2.13-23), they had the pageantry of Jesus’ birth, the feast of visitors, the funeral of the Slaughter of Innocents and the celebration of returning to home land.

In the midst of the Christmas story, of joy and excitement, we come upon the story of Herod killing the innocent children just because of his fear of being replaced as King. How sad it is that the realm of Christ was misunderstood then as much as it is now. We read of the horrors of children being killed, and move on with Jesus as he and his family move to Egypt and back again. And yet the horrors of war and other atrocities come across our computer and/or television screens and we mourn for those who died, then quickly check the sports page to make sure the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys both lost. (I guess it is kind of hard since they are two different sports with different seasons, but I can always dream).

But just like the funeral last week, death is a part of life. It is a part that we do not always understand, so we fear it. We are sad when it happens, we will miss the person who died, if we knew them, and then go on with our morning coffee. Hopefully there are days and events that make us want to stop and demand justice for the people who have died, whether by the hands of somebody else or death itself. In the story of Herod and the slaughter, we want justice and revenge. In the case of the wars going on throughout the world, we want the leaders to be held accountable for the actions of the armies they control. Just like following World War II and the wars where we hold trials for “Crimes against Humanity”; but isn’t war a crime against humanity in of itself?

Then we hear the words of Jesus, to love and forgive. Forgive the Slaughter of the Innocents? Whether the slaughter was two thousand years ago or earlier this morning? We are called to love and forgive so that we may come to the wedding feast and celebrate.

When it is hard to forgive somebody because of a cruel statement, how much harder is it to forgive somebody who is responsible for the death of millions? We are not called to judge, only God gets to do the judging. We are called to love and forgive, to speak out and act to protect…but to carry forth judgments of punishment of hell, that is for God. Nobody said that following God’s path was easy.

May you have a very blessed New Year.

Peace and blessings.

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