Spirited Reflection: Remembering the innocents of every age
Perhaps arising from my very catholic-thinking Anglican grandmother’s nurturing, perhaps because it’s exotic to reformed Protestants like myself, but I have always been interested in the feast days of the saints around Christmas.
- Stephen’s Day on December 26th reminds us of the cost of following and is a far better matter to ponder than trampling other customers in post-Christmas shopping orgies.
- John the Evangelist’s day on December 27th reminds us of the need to create beloved community.
- The one that tugs at my heartstrings the most is the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28th. Remembering the sobering story found in the second chapter of Matthew following the Holy Family’s new status as refugees in Egypt, we often don’t read the painful verses in our Christmas liturgies:
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18 NRSV
There is no entry of God into the times of humanity without a confrontation with the deep seated power of Empire and its lack of respect life and dignity. Even the commencement of God’s incarnation is marked with bloodshed.
KAIROS moments, where divine time touches our time, are choked with the blood of the martyrs of every age. Whether we talk of the many children buried in residential school cemeteries, the disappeared of our partners in the Global South or the missing and murdered indigenous women of our cities and communities across this country, we can never be far from the reality that we are, as the old protest song goes, singing, singing for our lives.
In the last three years, I have had a very small volunteer role in this organization as Chair of the Board. It was an accident of history that a person who does not work for any of the member organizations of KAIROS became chair of the Board. But no one else could have been more convinced of the authenticity of the work which we are doing together through the capable facilitation of our excellent staff. I’ve benefitted and this service I expect to be the finest hours of my ministry. I thank you deeply for the solidarity you are showing the spiritual descendants of the Innocents of Bethlehem in your letters, protests, prayers, financial contributions, bequests and in the various ways you hold Empire to account. I will serve on the steering committee (the new name for our Board) for another eighteen months but without the unique window into the running of this organization that the Chair has. I can honestly say as I complete my small role in our big task that I can think of no other experience of ministry which more closely resembles the call of the gospel as set out in the story of the Holy Innocents.
KAIROS through its partners weeps with Rachel, refuses to be pacified, and demands justice. It is good and faithful work and I hope that in 2017 and the years to come you will, as you are able, join in that work. Specifically, I hope you will take time to respond to requests for action and consider prayerfully your own financial commitments in 2017 and consider joining our monthly donor program, or increasing your donation, as we are doing in our house. You know whether that is possible for you or not, but in whatever way it is possible, let us know that we cannot welcome the Babe of Bethlehem into our hearts and lives without also advocating for his cousins in every age.
Thank you again. May 2017 be a year where we God comes more fully into midst.
Desmond Jagger-Parsons (Reverend)
KAIROS has benefitted immensely from the leadership of Desmond Jagger-Parsons (Reverend) as the outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors. Desmond is a United Church minister and works as a lawyer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador. We are very grateful for his contribution, dedication and willingness to continue to serve the KAIROS Steering Committee as the United Church of Canada’s elected representative until 2018.