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Vicar's Musings for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

21 December, 2014

What a week this has been. On Monday, my day off, I was listening to the news while having breakfast and heard of the shocking events that were unfolding at Martin Place, Sydney. Soon after the siege had come to its tragic conclusion, news broke of the deaths of 132 children and 9 adults in the Peshawar school massacre. It is hard to comprehend how anyone can enact such horror, and it is certainly much more about power and control than it is about religion.

Just the week before, at our Wednesday afternoon Advent study group, we were reflecting together on a chapter from Bp Stephen Cottrell's book Walking Backwards to Christmas (SPCK, 2014). The chapter is hard to read, it is a reflection on the massacre of the innocents, and sadly it turned out to be all too fitting: "When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more" (Matt 2:16-18). In the face of such brutality and callous disrespect for human life it is hard to see anything but the triumph of evil. Yet this was the context out of which salvation was born. An alternative way, a non-violent way, the way of the Christ-child came into being in spite of the opposing forces of terror. This is the way that inspires our lives as Christians, and this is the way the world so desperately needs this Christmas.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster


Illustration for Advent 4 Musings

Fra Angelica: Massacre of the Innocents (1451-52)

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