Advent 16: Matthew 2:1-12

Herod is one of those well known, almost pantomime style, villains of our childhood stories. The evil king who tries to trick the wise men into revealing where Jesus has been born so he can… well, the Nativity plays rarely expand on what he intended on doing. He was thwarted by an angelic dream, however, as Mary, Joseph and their newborn son escape his clutches.

What happens next is definitely not mentioned in any school Nativity play,

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:  
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.””
(Matthew 2:16-18 NIV)

Wow. That’s far removed from the fluffy, tinsel covered angels and children singing Little Donkey. It shows the kind of danger and evil which was present in those times. Thank heavens we don’t see that kind of thing today…

Tell that to the people of Peshawar. Just when you think you’ve seen every kind of evil a group of hate filled fanatics burst into a school and massacre over 100 innocent children. And they claim to do it in the name of God.

This is not the God worshipped in Mosques around the world by peace loving Muslims.

This is not the God worshipped by wisdom seeking, peaceful Sikhs.

This is not the God worshipped by enlightenment seeking, loving Hindus.

This is not the God worshipped by devout, priestly, chosen Jews.

This is not the God worshipped by me and billions of other Christians.

This is not the God who came down to Earth to teach us, lead us and save us from our own desires, arrogance and hatred.

I don’t know the god the Taliban, Am Qaeda and Islamic State claim to worship, much as I don’t know the god who bigoted extremists who claim to follow Christ claim to worship.

I know the one who inspires his followers to love him each other as his greatest commandments. I know the one who humbled himself and put himself through unimaginable agony for us.

And I know the God who, right now, is weeping tears of sorrow for the victims of the innocent victims of hatred in Peshawar as well as the victims of hated and bigotry around the world.

These acts are carried out by people. Badly flawed, selfish people influenced by evil. The response from each and every one of us can and should be influenced by the God who loves us all.

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