Formations Lesson for December 26- A Voice Was Heard in Remah
December 13 2010 by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Matt. 1:13-23  

“How long must we wait, oh Lord, for you to help us?”  These were the words of a zealot-minded malcontent in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth. Roman soldiers had just raided the town of Nazareth, leaving this revolutionary no recourse but to pose a piercing question that has reverberated throughout centuries of Jewish history: “How long?” But as the shattered militant wept facedown in the Galilean dust, he never noticed the small child who emerged from the crowd to witness the unfolding scene. That child was Jesus. His village had been raided, too. 

Our scripture passage for today paints a terrifying picture. Herod has just ordered his minions to Bethlehem with instructions to kill all children two and under. Only because of a dream warning of the danger does the holy family escape the impending infanticide. Thus as soon as he is born, Jesus is hunted. 

His birth causes an upheaval in a fallen creation, as if the world is allergic to the only medicine that can make it well.

To compound matters, Herod’s cruelty is left unexplained. Instead, his viciousness serves as stinging reminder that we know little about the problem of pain, or how a benevolent and powerful God can allow the innocent to suffer.

In Zeffirelli’s film, the boy Jesus does not answer the militant’s question. In fact, his silence is deafening.

The poignancy of the scene, however, is not in the answer Jesus provides or withholds; it is in the fact that Jesus is a citizen of Nazareth as well. God has entered into the suffering of his creation, and yet no one seems to notice. While humans await an answer to their distress, God remains silent, and decides to wait with them. 

The Christmas story does not explain the problem of pain, but it does reveal how God is dealing with it. Perhaps as believers we should confront pain in a similar way. Instead of trying to rationalize or theologize human suffering to those who are hurting, what if we were just present with them? If you think about it, that’s actually a lot more difficult than passing off some hackneyed “explanation” of why God allows bad things to happen to good people.

We are surrounded by a host of hurting individuals who are asking, “How long?” They don’t need an “answer” from us; they need us to ask the question with them. Here is where we take our cue from Jesus. As the only one qualified to address the problem of human suffering, Jesus opted to stand in the crowd with us.
12/13/2010 5:45:00 AM by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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