On December 21, the Christian Church solemnly remembered the innocent babies of Bethlehem slaughtered at King Herod’s fear-driven command. The Gospel writer Matthew reached deep into the Old Testament, into the very words of the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, to capture the depth of the people’s grief:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
These are powerful, sobering words. “Weeping and loud lamentation… her children… are no more.”
A 19th century poet poignantly captured the mood:
Oh, who shall tell what fearful pangs
That mother’s heart are rending,
As o’er her infant’s little grave
Her wasted form is bending;
From many an eye that weeps today
Delight may beam tomorrow;
But she, -- her precious babe is not!
And what remains but sorrow?
As the Church we grieve for each child deprived of life by Herod’s sinful sword. Tragically, the Christian Church is moved to grief and lamentation still today as innocents continue to be slaughtered legally in our country. Under the banners of “health care,” “choice,” “privacy,” and “rights,” abortion takes the life of an innocent child every 35 seconds. Compounding the tragedy is the unthinkable fact that women are hiring Herod to slaughter these innocents.
Many of these women later regret their abortions and are left with deep and lasting grief as they realize too late that their children are no more. If not for God’s grace in Christ, available to all who repent, their lament would be absolute and eternal.
The Church stands beside them in their sorrow. Together we grieve. Yet in our grief we hope. In our grief we pray. And in our grief we act. We hope in the God who raises the dead and heals the broken. We hope in His Second Advent when He will make all things new and liberate our hearts from their sorrow.
We pray to the God of life to change hearts and minds through His Gospel so that the slaughter of the innocents will cease. We pray for husbands and wives to welcome the gift of life into their families and to celebrate it above financial gain or career aspirations. We pray for governments to defend the defenseless and rightly to see the humanity and dignity of the unborn.
And we act through word and deed on behalf of the unborn and the men and women grieving their deadly choice. We act as the Church by embracing the repentant. We act as a Church by confessing life to be sacred from the womb to the tomb. We act as a Church by encouraging adoption. We act as members of the Church by speaking in the public square in defense of life, by advocating for laws that defend life from conception to natural death.
But one of the most important things we do for the world is lament. As the Church, we are Rachel to the world, rightly lamenting life’s loss. The lives lost to abortion cannot be ignored or forgotten. Our tears must flow for them. Our lamentation must echo for them, lest we let them be no more in our memory.
Until Christ returns to bind up our festering wounds and to heal our broken hearts, we are a Church named Rachel. – Pastor Conner