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We Make the Road by Walking – Week 3

by | Dec 18, 2018 | East District Web Page, East District Newsletter

A Stark Difference

We are in the third week of Advent and together hundreds of people in the East District are reading chapter 16 in the devotional book by Brian McLaren, titled We Make the Road by Walking.

In worship this last Sunday the lighting of the advent candle, the focus of the service, was on a call to rejoice. We rejoiced with Mary, (even though her humble service meant she would be judged by others.) We rejoiced in promises fulfilled. We rejoiced in the nearness of the coming of Christ. Then, in the middle of the rejoicing comes this week’s reading. With what fills the news, to read about Herod’s killing of children was painful. Brian McLaren’s opening words to the chapter speak the truth when he writes, “Right in the middle of Matthew’s version of the Christmas story comes a shock. It is disturbing, terrifying, and horrific.” There was such a stark difference between what I experienced in worship and the reading for this week.

McLaren reminded us that King Herod had a violent history. If you disagreed with him, you would most likely end up dead. It didn’t matter if you were family, Herod had to be right. This leader of the people had his wife, who was known to be a woman of noble character and children killed because of his jealousies. Herod was the one who tried to have the “travelers from afar” tell him about this new threat to his reign in the form of a newborn baby. And when Herod’s plan is thwarted, he decided to make sure the threat was dealt with, ordering the murder of innocent children across the region. Herod was an example of the words found in this week’s reading from Jeremiah.

Just when I didn’t think I could take any more, at the end of the chapter McLaren challenges us to

“light a candle for the children who suffer in our world because of greedy, power-hungry and insecure elites. Light a candle for grieving mothers who weep for lost sons and daughters throughout history and today.”

We love to fill the Christmas story with the songs of angels, and a star lighting the night sky, but McLaren makes a case for keeping the story of King Herod front and center. In stark contrast to Herod, how he thought, how he lived, comes into the world the Christ Child. One who would model love, service, humility and non-violence.

I listened to the news this morning and wondered, how many children today are forced from their homes because their families fear the violence of ruling powers? How many children today are killed because some value violence over love?

Perhaps McLaren is right, we do need to keep Herod’s ugly story as a part of our Christmas, because it challenges us to consider how we live today. It is easy to hold Herod’s story at arm’s length and think, “that’s not me,” but the words of 1 John 3:15 confront our actions. It is easy to become caught up in conversations that pit people against one another. It’s easy to be angry when someone doesn’t do what we think should be done.

This week let us be especially mindful about how we live, what we say, the choices we make. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, there are times our calling will be in stark contrast to what are knee jerk reactions. Love and grace sometimes take courage and strength.

My prayers are with you, that you may be transformed by the renewing of your mind, as you read God’s word and engage in walking a road together with those of us in the East District.

May peace be yours –
N Susan Brims Signature

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