Wednesday Word: The Fourth Day of Christmas

We are in the midst of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I have been putting out a #ChristmasIsNotOver tweet daily since Christmas Day (the First Day of Christmas) in the hopes of reminding someone somewhere in the twitterverse that Christmas is not over, that there are #12DaysOfChristmas, and to be part of the #ChristmasResistance. I fear it's a futile effort, but it makes me feel better.

Today, January 1, is the Eighth Day of Christmas. It is the day of eight maids a-milking. More importantly, though, it is the Feast of the Holy Name, the traditional time (eight days after birth) when Jewish boys were circumcised and named. But today I want to talk about the Fourth Day of Christmas.

The Fourth Day of Christmas is December 28. On the Church calendar this day is the Feast of the Holy Innocents – the day we commemorate the innocent children killed in and around Bethlehem on Herod's orders as his response to the coming of the Messiah.

This was also the day in Rockland County, NY (about 30 miles north of NYC), when a group of wholly innocent Jewish people were viciously attacked in a Rabbi's home while celebrating Hanukkah.

Both groups, the Holy Innocents and the wholly innocent, were attacked out of fear and hatred. And just like then when a “voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation,” the voices of our Jewish brothers and sisters on that day were heard weeping with wailing and loud lamentation.

This past Sunday I preached a brief homily during Lessons & Carols addressing yet another attack on a group some people find worthy of attacking. The gospel reading for that Sunday was from John 1. We are all familiar with the passage: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

We are once again living in dark times. White supremacists and nativists have been emboldened to ramp up both their rhetoric and physical violence against people of the “wrong color” and/or those who “don't belong.” Women, LGBT people, and Jews also fall into this group of approved targets.

If we believe God is love, if we believe Jesus came to redeem the world, if we believe (as Scripture says over and over again) that God stands with the stranger, outcast, downtrodden, alien, and “others,” then we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against all that is dark, hateful, fearful, and evil.

As an act of solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, I encourage you to attend Shabbat services next Friday, January 10, at 7:30 pm. Congregation B'nai Abraham is located at 53 E. Baltimore St. (between Locust and Potomac). If you receive this e-mail but are not near Hagerstown, I encourage you to find a synagogue close by and inquire how you may show your support.

I hope to see you there, because neither the Holy Innocents nor the wholly innocent should be forgotten.



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