In the pause after the mystery of Christmas Day, we pay little attention to the feast days that follow immediately after: that of St. Stephen the martyr (depicted above), the first to die for our faith; that of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist and the author of the great fourth gospel; and finally, the commemoration of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.
These days stand in stark contrast to the stories of birth, angels, shepherds, and light. They remind us of the urgency of our task. All is not yet complete. St. Stephen calls us to be truth, St. John calls us to be love, and the Holy Innocents cry out for our mercy and justice. These are the tasks God sets before us as we contemplate the coming of a new year.
We live in a real world, not a fairy tale. Despite our world of bright lights and holiday celebration, there is darkness still. Yet we claim darkness can never overcome the light again and, in truth, the whole world longs for this moment. Our world is seeking a god who makes all our living significant, a kind god who will love and cherish us, a merciful god who will love and restore us, a strong god who will love and empower us, and a god who will make all things new. The stable and the manger have announced the time has come to make that real. That moment is now.
We have work to do. God has set us on the journey. We are to be love, peace, and mercy, truth, justice, and hope. We are to be these things so that the world may know “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
And it changed everything.
Peace and blessings,
The Reverend Susan N. Eaves