John Buchanan provides in Hold to the Good what he did from the pulpit of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and as publisher of The Christian Century: timely reflection on current events in light of biblical texts. His latest post, The Children, shines the light of an often ignored part of the Christmas story — Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents — on the royal palace’s current cruelty toward children on America’s southern border.
Christmas is over but a singular Biblical incident is haunting me this year. The Christian story, from the beginning, is set in the context of political power, insecurity and cruelty. “In the time of King Herod” is the way Matthew begins. The Magi, mysterious seers from the east- modern Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, following a star that announced the birth of a new king, stop at the royal palace in Jerusalem, the locus of imperial political power. They assume, reasonably, that if a new king has been born it must be in the palace of the current king, Herod. The story recounts how Herod, obviously distressed and frightened by what the Magi said, learns from his own experts that Hebrew scripture predicts “From Bethlehem shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people, Israel.” When Herod later discovers that the Magi have deceived him, not returning with the…
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