Biblical Scholar, Seminary Professor, Episcopal Priest

Slaughter of the Innocents: A Lament for Tamir


We are a nation that kills children. We are a nation whose protectors do not protect children. We are a nation whose justice system does not render justice for children.

We failed Tamir. We failed Ayanna. We failed the children of Newtown. We failed every child shot since Newtown. We failed the multitudes of children whose names we will never know in spite of the proliferation of body cameras.

We do not have the excuse of being held in thrall by a tyrant like Herod with an army at his disposal. We have the power of our votes and our voices. What we do not have is collective will. We face a different kind of tyranny with a different kind of army.

Today the church remembers the Holy Innocents slaughtered by Herod as he sought to kill a king whose fame in infancy threatened him: 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. Matt 2:16

Herod didn’t invent state-sponsored genocide. Nor did it end with him.

My people are being slaughtered in the street, in our doorways, in our homes, in our beds, in our churches, in jail cells.

We can be murdered in public, on film and then be blamed for our own murder, with none held accountable.

Rachel, the heart-mother of Israel was said to have wept for the slaughter of the Holy Innocents as her spirit did in Jeremiah’s time, (Jer 31:15; Matt 2:18). She refused to be comforted because her children were gone.

These precious children are gone. Whatever you believe about the next life does not change that their lives and gifts here among us have been snatched away in horrific violence, that they died terrified and uncomforted.

I sit with my hand over my mouth because if I take it away I might start screaming and never stop.

4 Responses

  1. Grateful for these words. Praying for hearts to catch fire.

    29 December 2015 at 2:06 am

  2. As a Christian, our power is in seeking Jesus help in prayer as a people. Hold-up the names of law enforcers who have killed our people recently; for scripture tells us to pray for our enemy. It also tells us revenge is the Lord, so bind what we can on earth, so Jesus can bind from heaven. Scripture says, “We have not because we ask not.” That means asking Jesus in our problem.

    29 December 2015 at 12:15 pm

  3. Agony in our hearts for these precious babies/children. Only our Heavenly Father can comfort us. He also grieves for these beautiful, innocent children.

    29 December 2015 at 12:45 pm

  4. Prayer changes ‘stuff’, lifting our hearts and sprints to God Almighty or the God of your u freestanding to use us as instruments of God’s peace, love, & mercy in the world! Lord, open our eyes, ears, and heart and break our heart to make us more active, caring, and demonstrative inwardly toward prayer that changes our life & our world and make it a better place for ALL your people’s! Thank you God for answered prayer and for leading and guiding our steps that can make actangiblevdifferwnce in our hearts, lives, homes, neighborhoods, communities, states, nations, countries, and our world & universe! Thank you Lord, for answered prayer!

    1 January 2016 at 12:45 pm

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