Hardest of passages in this season — the death of children, after the birth of Jesus, but perhaps the most contemporary of all. Thanks to Larry Trent for asking me for these. Some resources:
Gentle God, the tinsel falls, the year turns, the carols fade. The blessing of Bethlehem that touched all the gray in our lives with star silver is past and we find ourselves like the magi going home another way, not realizing that there may be sorrows behind us. Now we ask your presence beyond all the holidays in our lives to the wintering times – the times of choice and ordinary courage, the times for teaching the jiu jitsu of hope and protecting the most fragile among us. Bless us, we pray, this Sunday morning and in the days to come. Amen.
God, all the children are holy and we have failed to give them and those who love them dreams of hope, paths to safety, new places of shelter from fear and violence. Forgive us when we ignore the children in our neighborhoods and on our news feeds who face the herod-dangers of our own times. Lead us in this new year to find magi-resources, map the journeys into possibility, and welcome all who need a safe place, for we pray in the name of the frightened child of Bethlehem. Amen
Assurance of Grace
The dream came, the gold was there for a fresh donkey, the moon shone on the desert. God forgives us for the way we have put hands over our ears from all the Ramah-weeping in the year that is past and gives us the courage to help the most vulnerable in our world in the year to come.
And a poem:
The legend tells of a holy family
fleeing the violence against children
Herod brought to Bethlehem.
Weary to the point of exhaustion,
they went into a cave and fell asleep
on the long road to Egypt.
A kind spider, who could think
of no other gift,
wove a web
across the mouth of the cave
and, when the soldiers came to kill them,
they saw the web gleaming
with the morning dew
and assumed no one was inside.
We remember the spider
by hanging tinsel on Christmas trees,
and we remember
that strands insubstantial as cobweb
still keep our children safe.
Our thin and easily broken strands
of words and deeds
for children in poverty,
children trafficked as slaves
or sex workers, refugee children,
immigrants, children fearful
of those who should love them,
make safe-enough caves
and sweet places for resting.
The story told long ago
was not of one family so special
they were protected
when other children died,
but that all the cruelty of the world
is challenged by spun thread,
and one child saved
is a promise
to every child who lives in fear,
to all the weeping parents.