Day 4: Childermas 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents,
Christmas is a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus and the beginning of His life on earth. It’s full of fun, games, feasting, and celebrating because the
Messiah has finally come! However, the Christmas season contains so much more and invites us into a wider reality than is celebrated in modern culture. There are parts of the story that are often overlooked, or put to the side during this festive season because of the heavy spiritual weight they carry. One of these stories is the lost voices of the first martyrs you just read about in Matthew 2, the children killed under Herod’s rule. The Feast of the Holy Innocents, or Childermas, offers us a space on the 4th day of Christmas to remember these children. Why is this story chosen as a memorial within the 12 days of Christmas, and what does it have to do with Jesus? It’s a dark story, as countless innocent children throughout Bethlehem were lost and often is not included in the traditional Christmas story we all grew up hearing! However, we can’t just look at a single part of the Christmas story; if we pick and choose which parts to read, remember, and celebrate, we don’t get to see the full and intricately beautiful story that God has crafted.
We take this moment of remembrance to see how this story is soon to be flipped on its head. Here, the innocent children sacrifice their life for Jesus,
so that He, fully innocent of any sin, might in turn sacrifice His life for all of humanity. It’s a powerful image of sacrifice that foreshadows the cross Jesus came to bear. This fuller view of the story of Jesus’ birth makes the story of Christmas so much richer, and weaves it together with the story of salvation. By taking a day to remember these martyrs, it humbles us by putting our lives and problems into perspective and gives us a chance to think about these precious small lives. It also continuously reminds us of the spiritual warfare that is being waged all throughout history, and ultimately how God is using it for our good and for His glory. Look around you in your life today. Are you like many of us, who take Christmas at face value for the good food, family vacations, and cozy weather? Or are you using this season to dive into the full story of Christ, and finding where He works everything for His glory?
Prayer of the Day:
Dear Lord, I thank You for this day that You have given us. I thank you for all of the blessings you have given me today and the life you have blessed me with. Lord today, I pray You would open my heart to remembrance of those who came before me. I pray that their lives and their stories would enter into my thoughts to help me better see and understand Your work and Your glory. During this season, help me to remember Your sacrifice and the sacrifice of all those who came before me so that I can live in Your joy here today. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen
Although this day has some dark themes and undertones, the celebration of this day is often lighthearted, as well as reverent. For many people celebrating this day, it is customary to give the youngest child complete rule of the household! (even though that may be the norm in your house anyways). This tradition stems from covenants and monasteries where the youngest nuns and monks were in charge for the day. Parents will also typically pray blessings on their children. In Mexico, it is a day for children to play pranks on their parents and elders. All of these are different examples of how to celebrate the day, but the main thing is to remember the important role of children in the life of a family.