Since Thanksgiving my small parish has experienced one anticipated death, though earlier than expected, an arrest for armed assault, an emotionally crush absolutely unexpected death, and a sever ATV accident. One only involves us liturgically, a burial rite. All of the them require a lot of emotional and spiritual energy at any time. But at this time of year, they seem to be over the top.
Arland J. Hultgren raises this over the top emotionally, spiritually draining aspect of Matthew’s story of John sending a question to Jesus Are you the Messiah or not? I’ve always preached on Jesus’ answer. Hultgren jerks my attention to John’s question. [i]
Brett Younger in a commentary for last week draws our attention to a story from Matthew we will likely never hear. It is selected for the 2nd Sunday after Christmas, and it is the 3rd option for a Gospel reading. It’s the story of Herod’s slaughter of the Innocents. [ii] And yes they have their Holy Day, how many churches will observe it?
In this season of silver bells and choral swells, life goes on, all of life goes on, including the very messy, the very ugly, the very unfair parts of life. I do not want to dampen your Advent and growing Christmas joy. I just want to remind us all the God’s transforming presence is in the darkest corners of live as well as the moment of incredible light we are preparing for; both the birth of old, and the return to come. And we know the fuller grace of both when we know God’s presence in the dark. We know the greater light when we dare to walk in to deeper darkness.
[i] Arland J. Hultgren, Working Preacher, Commentary on Matthew 11:2-11, December 15
[ii] Brett Younger , Keep Herod in Christmas, November 30th, 2013, Ministry Matters