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This week is a harder chapter to read and reflect with. The story of King Herod killing children is a horrible image. How could the comforting and picturesque nativity scene contain the death of infants? Many of us leave soldiers and dead children out of our nativities. In fact, I have yet to see a any Christmas ornaments that depict King Herod, his soldiers, or any inclination of death. We still include the wise men of Epiphany, but we never include images of the scene that follows in Matthew 2:16, where the children are killed because one child, Jesus, poses such a potent threat to King Herod and the Roman Empire he serves.
McLaren challenges to acknowledge that this is still the case today. In a far too real example, so many of our gifts are made by enslaving children across the globe and "killing their souls and spirits." So much of our world is run by old men making calculated decisions to keep their power, and to keep nations and corporations safe and secure. Their greater sense of "good" allows financial, military, legal, and ecological decisions that keep sacrificing people so that systems of power stay "stable, safe and secure."
I'm not at all advocating that we completely change Christmas. But I believe we are better when we tell the full story of Christmas in the Gospel of Matthew. Powerful men were worried, and cared more about keeping their power than caring for the powerless. How do we keep the Christmas vision of caring for the powerless alive? How do we keep the Christmas vision of challenging the powerful alive? Personally, how do we find hope when we are "powerless" in part of our life, and how do we challenge our own self-preserving power and privilege?
This story connects directly with:
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Contact Pastor Theda to participate in a theme based small group this year.