Come Ye Disconsolate
December 29, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Christ Lutheran Church
December 29, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Holy Innocents (observed)
Come Ye Disconsolate
Now when they departed, Behold! An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you. For Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him. And so he arose and took the child and his mother by night, and fled to Egypt. And he remained there until the death of Herod to fulfill what had been spoken by the LORD through the Prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son."
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the Magi became furious and sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, based on the time he had ascertained by the Magi.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted for they are no more!
But when Herod died Behold! An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Rise! Take the child and his mother and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead, and gone. And he rose and took the child and his mother and arrived in the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there; and being warned in a dream, he left there and went to the district of Galilee. And he settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:13-23)
Christmas might make us sentimental. It might bring back happy memories of dinner at Grandma’s house. But that is not the comfort of Christmas.
Sentiment cannot capture “the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God” (Rom. 11:33) that gave us this holy birth. That God who made man, became man, to save man.
Yes, we deck the halls with boughs of holly and go out of our way to make our surroundings bright and beautiful – which is “meet, right and salutary,” because our Beautiful Savior is the Light of the World.
But Christ was not born into the world to make us gooey, but to redeem the world from its deadly ways. From the sins that fill our hearts with fears, our eyes with tears, and rob us of all comfort like Rachel weeping for her children.
People still lament mass murders. In December 2012 America had her teeth set on edge by the mass murder of 26 innocents at an elementary school in Connecticut, and it cut our nation to the heart.
It was like another 9/11. The souls of people everywhere were bleeding arterially! For no apparent reason they would suddenly break into tears at stoplights, and in restaurants, and like Rachel could not be comforted for their children were no more!
This is the world that Jesus entered on Christmas to redeem. Not by passing legislation! There was already plenty of that.
It was already illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits of Newtown CT. Already illegal in the state of CT to kill children. But legislation did not stop a monster from doing what monsters do.
Only love can do that, and you cannot legislate love O Legislators! But you can legislate blood-shed if you are the government. Whether Pharaoh at the birth of Moses, the monster, Herod, at the birth of the Christ, or the government of the United States of America sanctioning abortion.
But Jesus borne of great love for this bloody world made himself liable to it. Susceptible to it. To the same dangers that we face each day. But Bethlehem was not the place he was destined to die.
It was not God’s plan to let him be killed anonymously, as “one OF many”. But “in the fulness of time” as “one FOR many” on the cross, in keeping with “the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:22)..
And his death was unique!
It was not for the wages of his sins, for he had none, but to collect the wags of ours.
His was a sacrificial death! A substitutionary death. The fruits of which are eternal in scope and time; the fruits of which we partake at the altar today:
Where we affirm glad life in the midst of death.
Where we pray with the first century church of Corinth: “O grave where is thy victory,
O death where is thy sting.”
Where we share in glad fellowship with the Holy Innocents, and with all Holy Innocents, those who have died in Christ and gone on before us to welcome us into the eternal habitations.
Where we intimately meet the risen Lord under the forms of bread and wine, and rise to newness of life with him, “here in time and there in eternity.” The fruits of which Tree, the Cross, are available to all who are disconsolate wherever they might languish.
The new life that is bestowed upon us at baptism is nourished and grows continually larger and larger at the altar, until one day it will be the only thing. Life eternal. Life supernal. Life seraphic. Life like Christ, with Christ, in Christ.
This is “the profound mystery” that St. Paul teaches us in his sacramental catechism in Ephesians chapter five.
Of note, too, in today’s gospel is the fact that Jesus did not reside in Judea or in its capital city, Jerusalem, which was the religious center of the Jewish faith.
Instead St. Joseph, warned by an angel, moved the Holy Family to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, which was 2 districts away, 90 miles north of Judea in order to keep his Child safe until his time would come.
At one time Galilee had been thoroughly Israelite territory but was now thoroughly secularized. It was peopled by people who did not know its past. They had no more comprehension of its religious heritage than people who live in Corpus Christi do the “body of Christ” after which it is named.
But Galilee is where the Kingdom of God resided for 30 years. Jesus was raised there. He walked the streets, drank the water, ate the food which made everything about Galilee holy, because anything Jesus touches is holy.
He touches you in Holy Communion today. Making you Holy and Innocent of all sin. You will not come under judgment but on the last day you will hear the newborn King say to you: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Mt. 25:34
True, he conducted his public ministry throughout the entire land of Israel; and at the end he came to Jerusalem to become the New Temple; and the True Sacrifice. The Sacrifice that all sacrifices previously offered by those “born under the law” only foreshadowed. (Gal. 4:4)
But he lived among Gentiles. Unbelievers. To make them holy. For they too are his beloved creation. All people are. All. Since he did not come to save good people by the cross but bad people.
We are those bad people who, by Christ’s pardoning presence within us, have been made good people. Holy people. Innocent people.
Does that mean we will need to die for Christ like they did?
Yes. We must “die daily”. (1 Cor. 15:31) We must die to our selfish desires. We must empty ourselves of ourselves and give ourselves altogether over to God, to his service which is the sacrificial love of God and family. Then we will be like the Holy Innocents. Amen