Today is January 6th Epiphany. The day the church celebrates the Magi visitation.
Since I can remember I have always hand written a letter to the “3 Kings” and tucked it into my shoes which were left outside the door. They would sit there all night in anticipation of the gifts the 3 kings would leave me. Today the 3 kings are 86 years old and although they live next door to me their age has tethered them closer to home. This year, I didn't put out my shoes for the first time since I can remember. Time changes things.
The custom also spread to my children as they grew up. But now far away or all grown up, their shoes aren’t filled either. But my parents' laughter as they read their letters and appreciated the childish drawings are a reservoir of joy to me.
This day, Epiphany and this part of the nativity history is chilling. Particularly when I had my own two year olds and now especially as Fred and I enjoy our own sweet grandchildren.
How is it possible that such an evil be contrived?
Herod, jealous and self absorbed, sets out to extinguish a threat to his throne. In his grasp for power he couldn’t understand that the baby’s kingdom was not of this world. But no matter- his gruesome clutch of what he perceived his own, drove him mad. His own life would be snuffed out for this wickedness.
Boys, aged two and under..
They are in the throes of innocence and emerging personality mixed with awakening of will. To grandparents they are life-givers in the way they marvel at the commonplace and make us slow down, stop and appreciate God’s world.
I wonder, would the soldiers have asked about age? What was given as verification that a boy was 2? Would they have really substantiated every boys age? Would they have been careful to leave the 29 month olds alive? Were any girls slaughtered by mistake? Would the soldiers have had to muster a frenzy to strike and in their frenzy have struck without authentication?
"A cry was heard in Ramah-
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted
for they are dead."
Why didn't God intervene to save the innocent?
Children die every year of disease, accidents and even mortality in the womb, while the wicked seem to prosper in their plans. What comfort is given the mothers of these children?
Bereaved Bethlehem mothers holding limp little bodies. Empty places at the table, little things they played with stilled.. my heart collapses at imagining it.
Would we have said, "Well, Jesus was saved."
Life has difficult questions. Losses we don't understand.
The difficult questions compel us to search our own faith deeply. And thrust us into the arms of God. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis explores God's character like this:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
I need an epiphany to take a hold of my own life. I love the joys given me, but there is more than that. In life's difficulties I want to be an overcomer. Like those sited in Revelation who are faithful till the end because they know their king because they trust their king. Because they have had an epiphany.
From CS Lewis' The Horse and His Boy:
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
When you sent your only son in the envelope of humanity it was not a safe plan. He was targeted for destruction from the beginning. His mission, his intent, his objective was not safety. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank you Jesus for your willingness to be susceptible to all that evil could hurl at you, so that I might live in your presence forever.
You are the lion that is
for me and
and I want to trust you in all things. Help my shaky faith to grow, to remember that you are the King. May that be my Epiphany.