Monday Devotional: December 26, 2022



Bible Reading: Matthew 2:13-18 (CEB)

13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt. 16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet: 18 A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving. Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more.

Christmas was just yesterday; we haven’t even cleaned up the discarded wrapping paper and ribbon or started eating the leftovers. After weeks of preparation and yesterday’s celebration, today seems a good time to rest and recover. But there is no rest — no easy place — here on the other side of Christmas.

The shepherds are back with their sheep, Mary and Joseph look at their child with continued amazement, while Herod is in a rage to find the “king of the Jews.” He will stop at nothing until the child is destroyed. And it is a thin patchwork of faith and dreams that saves Immanuel. Joseph, like his Hebrew namesake, is so open to God that God’s angels inhabit his slumber, warning and instructing him. On the basis of a memory that dissolves at daybreak, Joseph takes his family and flees to Egypt.

Jesus is safe, but all those others are killed. It is hard to imagine a small town with no toddlers. It is hard to imagine the cruelty of Herod. And yet it still happens today. Ten years ago, right before Christmas, six adults and twenty children in Connecticut were murdered by a gunman who also killed his mother and finally himself. It was, and is, terrible. Almost an entire grade in that school was wiped out, like the toddlers of Bethlehem. And the death toll is not limited to one horrible tragedy. Thousands of children die from gun violence in the United States every year. The Herods of our time are everywhere. The innocents are still being slaughtered.

While the angels’ words of peace and goodwill still ring in our ears, we are called to work for the holy dream of a world where all children are safe. May it be so.

Prayerful Reflection

Holy One, you came to us a child, innocent and vulnerable. Help us to hear your call to see you in the children of the world and to work to protect them from harm. Amen.

By Martha C. Highsmith, The Upper Room Disciplines 2022, page 427.