When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: `And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matthew 2:3-6)
I had a completely different blog planned for this week around remembering our baptism every time we use hand sanitizer, but the events from yesterday’s coup attempt in the U.S. has me thinking in a completely different direction. So bear with me; these are unformed thoughts but I’ll try and connect them all together.
The level of violence and anger that we observed on the news coming out of the U.S. was frightening. The images were ones that I never imagined that I would see in North America; but there we were – watching our neighbours descend into a level of chaos that I hadn’t seen before.
And for what reason? I would like to lay blame heavily on Donald Trump and his morally questionable leadership, but truthfully, I can’t. There is much more to this than ‘bad leadership’. In the passage quoted above you have King Herod hearing about the birth of a new order in the incarnation of Jesus, and his response was:
Fear that his power would be lost. Fear that what he had would be lost. Fear of….well…my guess is a whole lot of things that had to do with all of his own self-interest. We have seen Donald Trump descend into a kind of madness recently. A madness that would have him begging people around him to fraudulently give him votes even though one of his biggest complaints was election fraud. A madness that would have him egging on ordinary citizens into violence by spouting odd and easily disputable conspiracy theories. A madness that had Twitter shut down his account because his tweets were so ‘out of control’.
Is this attributable to Fear? Well, there is a body of thought that says that anger is born out of fear. I will never likely be able to sit Donald Trump down and ask him if this is fear so I’m completely projecting.
King Herod was frightened. He was frightened enough that he called together his Cabinet (the chief priests and scribes) to have his information fact-checked. Then when it was, he ordered the mass murder of all boy children under the age of two (Matthew 2: 16). (I do want to point out here that no King, or President, for that matter can do anything without a whole lot of people supporting them in this decision)
He was scared of a Baby. And he ordered the murder of male babies because of this. And Mary and Joseph had to ‘escape to Egypt’ as a result.
Fear resulting in a descent into violence that is unfathomable to us.
The bible study crew reminded me yesterday of the simple truth that ‘fear and faith are incompatible’. And that we are called to a life of faith through our baptism – the baptism that is promised to us in our scriptures as being of the Holy Spirit.
God in us – leading us and guiding us. God in us providing us with wisdom and faith. God in us and all fear is dispelled.
So (and here – look I tied this whole thing into my original idea!) Today, I would like you to consider for yourself what we have because we have been baptized in the Spirit. Today I would like you to consider what it means to be baptized into a life of Faith. And I would like you to consider ‘remembering’ this baptism every single time you use your hand sanitizer; hand sanitizer that is used to dispel Covid and our fears of this virus can now become your spiritual practice to remember your baptism and the simple truth that we don’t need to be afraid.
Blessings today, and remember you are Loved,
Your picture today is of a baptismal font – not ours, obviously! Its because Bob and Jack are working on the flooring in the hall so things are a bit impassable at this point. I will also post one of our pictures from our own sanctuary.