Tag Archives: Herod

Rachel Weeping

Matthew 2:16-18

Not the most pleasant of the Christmas passages!  Certainly not one we include in our cute nativity tableaux…

Yet very much a reality of life, as much today as then.  Angry threatened men (and women) still take out their fear and their need to feel superior on the weak, the fragile and the vulnerable.  People are still weeping.  For their children, their community, their parents – people they don’t even know.  Because suffering and destruction are their lot.

We hear a mothers cry.  The raw emotion of Rachel.  This is gritty reality.  There is no neat happy ending to this event.  It is just left as it is.   Sometimes we need to sit with the pain, the questions, the feelings of hopelessness and the fury – even the thoughts that God has brought it all about.  We weep with those who weep, because words are meaningless.

And yet…This is the world Jesus was born into.  The world he still inhabits.  That is the ending.  God is here with us.

into the pain,
terror you were born.

Into a world of cruelty,
and murder you came.

Little seems any different,
many feel lost,
and threatened;
whilst others bully,
cause pain
and death – physical and emotional.

 Into this world Lord,
bring your peace,
your hope,
your comfort,
your life.

And equip me to work with you.

Taken from my 2015 book Voices Through Advent and Christmas, available through Moorleys

What Have I Done?

So frightened
by those who tell the truth,
terrified of being
found out,
trying so hard
to keep face
in front of my friends.

Who is this man
who knows so much
about me?
The real me?
Who looks into people’s lives
and sees the truth?

I am a weak man,
easily persuaded
however foolish
or cruel
the outcome;
backed into a corner
by my own ego
and need to look good.
Feeling the need
to remove someone
who calls me out
on my life choices.

Taking a life
for sport.

What have I done?

Lord as I look at other people
it can be so easy to see their faults,
what I think they are doing wrong
or how they are hurting me,
but I’m not always so quick
to look at my life
so critically.

Help me to look
and think
and live
for you.

Mark 6:14-29 (CEV)

The Death of John the Baptist

14 Jesus became so well-known that Herod the ruler heard about him. Some people thought he was John the Baptist, who had come back to life with the power to work miracles. 15 Others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet who had lived long ago. 16 But when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “This must be John! I had his head cut off, and now he has come back to life.”

17-18 Herod had earlier married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. But John had told him, “It isn’t right for you to take your brother’s wife!” So, in order to please Herodias, Herod arrested John and put him in prison.

19 Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it 20 because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew that John was a good and holy man. Even though Herod was confused by what John said,[c] he was glad to listen to him. And he often did.

21 Finally, Herodias got her chance when Herod gave a great birthday celebration for himself and invited his officials, his army officers, and the leaders of Galilee. 22 The daughter of Herodias came in and danced for Herod and his guests. She pleased them so much that Herod said, “Ask for anything, and it’s yours! 23 I swear that I will give you as much as half of my kingdom, if you want it.”

24 The girl left and asked her mother, “What do you think I should ask for?”

Her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist!”

25 The girl hurried back and told Herod, “Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!”

26 The king was very sorry for what he had said. But he did not want to break the promise he had made in front of his guests. 27 At once he ordered a guard to cut off John’s head there in prison. 28 The guard put the head on a platter and took it to the girl. Then she gave it to her mother.

29 When John’s followers learned that he had been killed, they took his body and put it in a tomb.

Herod #adventbookclub


Matthew 2:3-8 (CEV)

When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?”

They told him, “He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote,

’Bethlehem in the land
of Judea,
you are very important
among the towns of Judea.
From your town
will come a leader,
who will be like a shepherd
for my people Israel.’”

Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star. He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.”


A threat to my power?  By someone who might actually know something?  A real king?  With God on his side?  Now I am worried.

I’ve always worried that I’d be found out.  That this precarious little kingdom I’ve built for myself would be brought down.  This cannot happen. I’ve got to get on to this – now, before it gets out of hand.  He will have to go.  I don’t care what pain or distress I cause – after all, the end will justify the means.

This passage always reminds me of this scene from The Lion King, where Scar is adamant the king will be killed – so that he can be king, rising entirely from his jealousy.

This King must go – Herod’s thoughts entirely!

When we feel frightened or threatened we can make some really stupid choices.  Sometimes those choices have huge repercussions – for ourselves and for those innocently caught up.

I try so hard,
to do the right thing,
for the best;
but sometimes
I am coming from the wrong place,
looking after me,
acting from fear,
not love.

Sometimes I get things spectacularly wrong,
even with the best of intentions,
and others get caught up
in the results of my decisions.

Forgive me Lord
my wrong decisions,
my stupid choices,
my misguided actions.

I pray for wisdom
and a clear sense of your way forward.

Help me to deal with my emotions,
so that I am not responding from the wrong place;
to live in confidence of you.

Join us reading Walking Backwards to Christmas by Stephen Cottrell from SPCK Publishing this advent.  Be part of #adventbookclub, share your thoughts here, on your own blog (and let us know we’ll link to it), on Twitter using #adventbookclub or on the Adventbookclub Facebook page