Weeping on the 4th Day of Christmas

Christmas can be really hard to get through, for those who are grieving or feel they have nothing to celebrate.

Some churches put on a special quiet service before Christmas for those who simply cannot face the crowds or joyful singing at the usual Christmas and Carol Services. A quiet alternative service like 'Blue Christmas Service' can be just what some people most need at this time. Such services give permission not to be merry, say it it OK to grieve while others rejoice.

We are still in the season of Christmas and during these 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany (January 6) the church calendar has a number of special days that often get forgotten.

Today's commemoration certainly gives permission not to "laugh and be merry". Rather, it gives permission to weep, to protest, to rage in anger, to ask 'why do the innocent suffer'?

Today, the 4th Day of Christmas is called 'Holy Innocents Day'. It commemorates the story of a dreadful massacre of young children more than 2000 years ago.  

This story is about King Herod's murder of baby boys in a vain attempt to eliminate the infant Jesus. It's a universal story. A person or group who hold power is threatened. A natural reaction is to lashes out, never mind who gets hurt, even babies and toddlers. It is a story that is still happening and the justifications given are that such things are necessary in the interests of national security or to win a war.

Today I find myself thinking about the children of Yemen, some of whom have been killed instantly as the 'collateral damage' of bombing and others more slowly through malnutrition, starvation and disease. Yes, the massacre of the infants by Herod is a universal story. There is nothing comforting about that fact. It does show the universal need for repentance and turning to God, who alone has power to save.

I have posted on this day on 4 previous occasions. You might like to take a look:

One of the most beautiful Christmas Carols is a lullaby and a lament. I love it because it conveys both grieve and hope, It is the 'Coventry Carol' and is based on the story from Matthew's Gospel of the massacre of baby boys in Bethlehem by Herod the Great. It is a lullaby sung to the Christ child in the manger.

Here is the Coventry Carol sung by the choir of King's College Chapel and accompanied by Christmas scene images.

Image Credit: Commons Wikimedia