Childermas...the alternative name for the feast we celebrate today--the Feast of the Holy Innocents. In it we remember those whom many consider to be the first Christian martyrs, the massacre of young children in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16–18).
Children have so often been the innocent victims during power struggles. Wars and famine, pestilence and natural disasters encompass great swaths of our world and children are swept aside in the rushing tides of terror. It was brought home to me most strongly in Cambodia. Driving along a country road, we saw many children in the fields. "There's still a lot of unexploded ordinance around here so they send the children in first," the guide explained. "They don't want to risk the water buffalo. Children are easy to replace, work animals are not." An agonizing choice for parents. Casualties in a war that should have ended decades ago.
So today, as we remember a 2000 year old atrocity, let's also remember and pray for all innocents caught up in tragedies not of their own making. Let's remember Childermas not only in the past, but here with us in the present day.
O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in your which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.