Today my Church celebrated with Christmas Lessons and Carols. Because that was the right choice for my energy and, in my opinion, a fun way to continue to celebrate Christmas with all the carols we love. (It also gives me a bit of a break from preaching, which is especially welcome after Christmas.) Every year I am aware that the Gospel reading for today is the story of Holy Innocents. This year my soul was captured by the story of the Holy Innocents. Their feast day was yesterday so perhaps I was just more aware. This is what I wrote while driving to and from Church this morning:
I was in seminary when I learned about the child mortality rate. The child mortality rate tracks the deaths of children under age 5 as they are at the highest risk, across the globe, for dying. As a species we are simply least able and most vulnerable in those early years of life whether to disease, violence, or neglect. According to UNICEF, most of those deaths are preventable through interventions like vaccination and proper nutrition.1 But none of that would have saved the children whose deaths the Church remembers today. The Holy Innocents died because of power and fear. Herod had power; power Herod feared losing; a fear strong enough backed by enough power to order the death of children. Innocent children.
This story captured my soul as I live in a country still struggling to acknowledge the scars stealing Native children, brown children, from their families and culture left on them, on their families, on this country. As a citizen of a country stealing Central and South American children, brown children, from their families after helping or allowing their countries to be besieged with violence. As my adopted country has long term drinking water advisories in 58 areas2, places where the tap water isn’t safe for brown children or their families. As a citizen of a country where children are unable to see doctors because of the inequity of the healthcare system.
Because we fear them. Because the colonizing patriarchal systems that created both of the countries I call home worries that these children, because of their skin colour, because of where they were born, because of things they have no control over, are too much of a threat to the position of power we’d like to have.
It is a weird day to celebrate, isn’t it? We celebrate and remember the children, not those in power. Not those so gripped by their own fear. In the season where we remember how God came to abide with us as a baby, dependent on Mary and Joseph and us, we remember those babies we have failed to care for.
Come, abide with us, Jesus.
Come teach us to frustrate the evils that happen in our name, Lord Emmanuel.