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Why No Holy Innocents Decorations?

December 28th, 2008
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Holy Innocents
December 28, 2008

I see Frosty, and Santa, and Dasher and Dancer, but I do not think
I’ve ever seen lawn decorations for this Christmastime observance in
the Church Year. The Commemoration of the Holy Innocents, the children
killed by Herod in his quest to rid himself of all who would threaten
his rule and reign as king of Palestine. But don’t we all have a little
Herod in each of us? We too want to do away with all of Christ that
threatens our “comfort zone.” We do well today not only to remember the
innocents who were killed but the sins which caused our Savior to
suffer and die for us. The Innocent One for the guilty, for you and me.

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  1. Ken Howes
    December 29th, 2008 at 10:32 | #1

    I think there’s an issue of how we present the Christmas story, in that small children shouldn’t be terrified of Christmas. Very few churches have separate Holy Innocents services every year, so that at the moment when they ought to be happy that Jesus was born, they’re scared by images of soldiers killing little children. There are 3-year-olds there in the church with us, and they’re not ready to see that yet. We wouldn’t show 13-year-olds pictures of Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him. Not everything in the Bible is good subject matter for a graphic representation to Christians of all ages, even if it is a subject for preaching.

  2. Susan R
    December 29th, 2008 at 15:20 | #2

    While what Ken Howes says has the ring of truth, consider this: Try explaining the crucifixes within our sanctuary to a 5 year old steeped in cross-free Protestantism for her entire young life. While her mother faithfully carries her to services in her non-Lutheran church, she’s completely unfamiliar with the reality (let alone the image) of Christ crucified.
    Then try telling her why He died: Tell her what sin is, and answer how she sins, when she works so hard at being a good little girl.
    Then wonder if you’re offering her any service at all, or not simply traumatizing ‘the little innocent’ with brutal images and terms her mind simply can’t process, or won’t, once she’s back in the comfy confines of her mother’s cross-less church.
    Our children should grow up with these images because they are the truth, and because they are at the heart of what we claim we believe. Our children should grow up with the truth.
    There’s plenty of artwork, like the Reubens above, that depict that which is more than mere story, and it’s available (and appropriate) for display on walls of churches. If a church can find wall space for a portrait of Luther, or for what Todd Wilken calls “Jesus’ graduation picture”–say, in a Pastor’s study, or along a hallway–then a church can display even such graphic art as that.
    It would do children (and their parents) well to understand, through thorough exposure, what horror is and what it isn’t, and for Christians to understand that Herod was the culprit here, and not the artist who depicts it, nor the pastor who preaches and teaches it.
    As for such as ‘yard art’, our local Catholic church annually displays rows of crosses on its lawn by the highway to the Mall, representing the babies done in by abortion. There is a way for living children to understand that horror as well, and to understand precisely why it is indeed horror.
    Our children, after all, are baptized (unlike that little 5 year old girl), and as such are a part of that and all Biblical truths. Let them grow up standing in it.

  3. Basil
    December 29th, 2008 at 15:20 | #3

    Great post, thanks. Yes, I think we’ll find a little Herod in us– inviting Christ to live in us, means we loose our power over our own lives, or that is the goal, anyway.

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