The cousins ushered on Christmas Eve, and their stair step smiles brightened every one's afternoon. In the Christmas Story, these three could have played the Kings pretty easily, and they do consider themselves "Wise Guys!" But his week's texts of the day put them in another story, one that is touched off by the first Wise Men.
The Magi from the East come to pay homage to a new King, an infant King. In their innocence they inquire at Jerusalem, perhaps thinking that the present King has had a son. This would have been a easy visit. Come in, give gifts, and head home. But no, this was no known Son, this was the Son of God, come to rule on Earth, and in the land of Israel, where secular power was not to be taken for granted. Since Herod had not just celebrated the birth of his own son, this news was disturbing, and he began the plot that would end some thirty years, ( and how many Herods) later. He feigns interest in the child, and sends the Magi on their way.
HA! Like God is going to be fooled by one man's lies. Jesus is visited, and whisked away. The part that twists at my heart is the next lesson. Herod, outfoxed by God, and avoided by the Magi, sends out his own hit squad, and rather than worry about which child Jesus might actually be, he has all the infant boys killed in one small town. That story always makes me hug my boys even tighter.
The lesson of the day for January 7th is from Exodus 1, where boys were again targeted for destruction:
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews
you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live."
Again, one gets away, but many others are killed. Why do so many have to die, and the savior is saved? Why can't the God of all creation stay the hands of the soldiers and soften the hearts of the kings who order these executions? Does it make it any easier for us to hear the news of ethnic cleansing today, to know that somehow God didn't have the ability to stop the violence thousands of years ago, and God can't stop it now? Where is the savior out of Africa, or Bosnia, or South/Central America? Who will put an end to the fear and violence in the world?
Will it be you?