Church remembers 3 others during 12-day celebrationPublished 9:59am Friday, December 27, 2013
By the Rev. Don Rose
Mansfield and United Lutheran Churches
Within the 12-day celebration of the great festival of Christmas, the church also remembers who have been named from the 13th century as the companions of Christ. On Dec. 26 St. Stephen the first Christian martyr is remembered, on Dec. 27 it is St. John and on Dec. 28 the Holy Innocents. To the world it may seem odd to bring up such dark remembrances in the midst of the joy of Christmas. Yet, to the church it makes perfect sense in many ways.
On the one hand it is a reminder that though God has taken on human form in the birth of the savior and the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it has not yet been realized in its fullness. The powers and forces of the world resisted the message of salvation at the time of Jesus. The same resistance continues to be alive and well yet in these days. God’s people long for the fulfillment of God’s promise in the return of the Savior when all things will be made new. Until then there is the reality of sin and brokenness that marks life lived in this world.
Also such remembrances call God’s people to a renewed awareness that the one born in Bethlehem came to die on the cross for the redemption of the world. Faithful following of Jesus may very well lead to the same fate as was his at the hands of this world. By whatever means possible the powers of this world tried to silence the voice of new life. Yet they did not succeed in their efforts. Instead it was God who was victorious over sin, death, and the powers of this world. The grave would not contain God’s powerful redeeming love. In response to the awareness of what God has so graciously done, God’s people continue to boldly witness to the powers of this fallen world. This witness is accomplished through service as well as words.
There is also the reminder in these remembrances that the innocents continue to suffer in this world. How often it is that those without voice or influence bare the brunt of the inequities of this fallen world. God’s people are called into community with those whom the world rejects and oppresses. As Christ humbly came to the world, so Christ’s people are called to humbly but boldly speak against the injustices towards the least of God’s children.
In the midst of Christmas it is good to remember.