First Sunday after Christmas
December 29, 2013
Responding to the unacceptable
The biblical revelation is that God allows injustice, cruelty, and even the despicable treatment of children to occur. The slaughter by Herod of all the children under two years of age in and around Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus is but one example of this.
What does it mean to people of faith that the “unthinkable” happens to real people in real life? Is this God’s will? Are we to accept such injustice and cruelty? I think not. Matthew 2:18 validates Rachel’s refusal to be consoled as a valid response to such injustice.
In other words, accepting the “unacceptable” is not our only choice. Objecting to violent and abusive treatment toward innocents is in fact “of God.” Like Job, we are called to bring our outrage to God. Often, like Job, we receive no satisfactory answer to our prayers. But the act itself of lodging our complaints with God is an act of faith.
I once served as a chaplain in a “lock-down” psychiatric treatment center for children who had sexually molested other children. Unfortunately, a good number had been abused themselves by Christian leaders in their church or by Christian family members. The neglect and abuse of the innocents happens today.
In addition to our prayers, what action does our faith require? Is the safety and well-being of innocent children being protected within our churches and families? Are we prepared to establish and vigorously enforce child-safety policies? Or do we shy away from the reality of how vulnerable children are, even within Christian circles?
Like Rachel, our refusal to accept the unacceptable is the first step in faithfulness. Action that honors and protects our children is the next one.
Jeff Coppage, pastor, Covenant Moravian Church, York, Pennsylvania