28 December 2015

Jeremiah 31:15-17

“Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” (v. 15)

Psalm: Psalm 124


Today's passage, in particular verse 15 above, is used by Matthew's Gospel in the telling of the nativity story (Matthew 2:17-18). So these verses resonate with us at this time of year. In their original context they are not looking for fulfilment, thankfully, in the account of Herod's killing of the infants. Nevertheless, we are reminded that there is much sorrow in the telling of our, or perhaps especially, the Jewish, religion.

The message must be that, as inheritors of these stories and traditions, we should not be adding to the suffering and even slaughter, of children and adults. Of course people and cultures calling themselves 'Christian' have been responsible for the death of Rachel's children - British and European Jews, as well as Jews in Palestine during the Crusades - how could that be the legacy of the story of Jesus, one of the rescued children of Rachel? Yet it is.

Suffering and death in Scripture should be driving us to peace, mercy and reconciliation - the ultimate aim of our faith - not more war. The cause of peace and opposition to nuclear weapons is now part of mainstream political debate. However, we have learnt in recent years of American weapons being inscribed with Bible verses - how many of Rachel's children have they killed?

To Ponder

  • How do you use Scripture as a resource for peace?
  • What occurs to you when you hear of 'Rachel weeping' in the nativity story? 

Bible notes author

Julian Bond

Julian works for the Connexional Team as the grants team leader. Previous to that he was the director of the Christian Muslim Forum, which is built on friendship between a group of Christians and Muslims, showing how faith is a catalyst for good relationships and welcomes the 'other'.