Series

Don’t Let My Sorrow Make Evil of Me 

Jan 03, 2021   •  

The Reverend Michele H. Morgan 

January 3, 2021

2nd Christmas Year B 

After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”   Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

I have a friend, Bill and I do our best work teasing each other.  It is how we show love.  Years ago I was on the phone with him and I was complaining about something.   Bill said that I was too priestly to be this crabby.  I said, “buddy my 40 hours of nice is up.”  

So often he likes to remind me that things I say and do are not in line with my vocational calling.  So once again talking about something that was difficult, or crabby making involving the gun lobby, my friend Bill said that is not all that “Jesusy’.  I laugh so hard that he brings it up to me a lot. 

When I say I hate or I am not willing to sacrifice, that is not Jesusy.  

We are now here on the 10th day of Christmas, we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are still in a time of expectant hope, of seeing healthcare workers receive a vaccine, I was sent a picture of my Nephew getting his and I wept with joy. 

I have also wept with anxiety, with sorrow and as excited as I am about Vaccines here, I look around the world and see that economically advanced countries like the US, Canada, the UK etc., have access to and have purchased the vaccine and the equipment and that has left other countries in a perilous state.  My relief at the end of Pandemic reminds me that it is my relief and not that of the world. 

The gospel today is telling us of the murder of the innocents.  A day that is in our church calendar.  King Herod, after hearing of a child born in Bethlehem asks the visiting magi, the scholars who came to see the child to come back and let him know where this child is.   Herod fully intends to murder any rival to his power and the Magi relize it and they go home by another way, Herod is left to do what makes sense to Herod and murders children in and around Bethlehem.  

 Eric Barreto says this, “Herod is a new Pharaoh. Feeling his political power slipping away, he lashes out with great malice but also in vain. Both Pharaoh and Herod precipitate devastating losses of life yet ultimately fail to prevent the birth of a powerful leader of Israel. Both Moses and Jesus are born under the threat of death; both are guided by God’s protective hand.”

On this 2nd Sunday of Christmas, on this 10th day, we are left with the joy of the birth of the child and we are also called to see and work to the alleviation of suffering in the world.  It is the both and of the world.  We need to be able to live in the tension of both so that we can be more present to Jesus in the world. 

A friend said to me last night, we are either Herod or Jesus in this story.  So perhaps we should listen to my friend Bill and be more Jesusy.  

How do we become more Jesus like, how to turn our attention past our own desires?   Herod wanted power and did unthinkable things to keep it.  Jesus gave of himself and lived into a life of service and we as humans pinball between our desires and our call to service.  

The first way that I try and be more like Jesus and less like Herod is to know what motivates me, what makes me desire to be of service rather than self serving.  There is a phrase that I am trying to remember more and more, “Don’t let my sorrow make evil of me.” 

It is from a musical called Caroline, or Change.  Caroline who is struggling to live, to make enough money to support her family, and is put in a position by the family that she works for to let greed slip into her life; by way of the pocket change left in the clothes that she washes.  She is told by one of the parents to keep the change, to teach the child of the house consequences.  She does not want to but when she does, things change for her, esp. Between her and the child.  

It is difficult and when Caroline realizes that she has slipped over the edge of who she wants to be she sings, “Don’t let my sorrow make evil of me.” 

Herod has let his fear, his sorrow of losing power made evil of him. 

We in our sorrow of our interrupted life may let evil slip in and not look at the inequities laid bare in a pandemic. 

We are called to bring more Jesus into the world, more love, more light.  We are called to change the world and be more Jesusy, to be of service and continue to see it all. 

Don’t let my sorrow make evil of me 

Amen.