The other day, it occurred to me, that there is a part of the nativity story that we are (perhaps not unsurprisingly) silent about. It happens just after the Magi have been to see the infant Jesus (I know strictly speaking Epiphany). Joseph is warned by an angel to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. The Bible then says;
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.”
(Matt 2 vs. 16- 18)
I have seen plenty of nativity plays with Magi presenting their gifts but, I have never seen this scene enacted! I can almost imagine the press reports and parents complaining about their children’s nightmares!
So, how was Christmas for you?
I hope that, for you, Christmas was a time of joy and happiness. However, experience tells me, Christmas isn’t always a good time for everybody. Perhaps, for you, Christmas hasn’t been that easy. Although the scene in Matthews Gospel is quite harrowing, I am glad that Matthew includes it. The Bible is not silent about the reality of the human condition but, is honest about the good and bad of life. One verse I have heard quoted often is this;
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8 vs. 28)
Yes I do believe that, ultimately, God’s good purposes will be fulfilled. However, not every situation we face is good and to tell people “don’t worry, some good will come from this”, although well meaning, doesn’t always help. Rachel weeping for her children, was not comforted. Yes, God has the big picture of the situation, but those living in the midst of suffering need love, support, prayer and encouragement that comes from Christian friends.
If, for you, this Christmas didn’t turn out as the joy filled occasion you had hoped for may you find those Christian friends you need at this time. If your Christmas was joy filled, may you use that joy to be a blessing to others