yrieithydd: (Visitation)
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Chapter 2 is a reflection on Matthew 2.16-18:
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. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

The Holy Innocents. A glossed over part of the Christmas story - who wants to think of the boys Herod killed?

I'm currently in Cardiff to act in Cardiff Christmas the Story. This is a project I've been involved in for the last 4 and a bit years, since the devising stage in the summer of 2010. We tell the Nativity story by acting/puppeteering to a recorded sound track. The idea was to increase knowledge of the Christmas story by providing an equivalent to a trip to Santa's grotto. The think that struck me most in the devising stage and still does in the performances (and I've probably done around 300 performances now)* is the disruption of the census. Being familiar with the story, I knew that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem because of the census. It's just how it was. But we show them settling together in Nazareth (after they've sorted out this angel/pregnancy thing)** and this is disrupted by the Roman Soldiers arriving with news of the census and Joseph having to go to Bethlehem, but Mary being near her time: does he leave her or stay with her? So they both go. These are real lives and real decisions to be made.

We show Herod*** sending the wisemen to Jesus and brooding and wanting to kill him, but only tell of Jesus' escape, not mentioning the boys who weren't so lucky in Bethlehem. Jesus' escape is great, God's looking out for him, sending an angel to protect him and his parents. But why doesn't God protect the other boys?

This chapter, from the perspective of a mother of one of the slain boys, is powerful stuff. Unlike Anna, I completely got the character here. Raw grief and such injustice. No answers. The Holy Innocents were not protected. The church honours them, but what comfort is that to their mothers? And still, mothers grieve their slain children, in Syria, in Gaza, in Iraq... .

Oh God why?

But also

Father forgive...

It's not God who slew the little childer, but us humans. We do terrible things to each other, in the name of religion, to keep our power base intact, because they did something nasty to us last year, or last century.

And while Jesus escaped this Herod at this point in his story, another Herod was complicit in his death under Pontius Pilate. God became Flesh and dwelt among us - and we killed him....


*We do up to 11 a day and in year two (2011) I was there for all but half a day of the run (the advantages of being unemployed), though due to a technical problem (the theft of our computer that ran the show) I ran the lights manually or semi-manually for a day and a half rather than acting. I'd done quite a bit in the first year too. Less having moved to Bristol in 2012 and hardly anything last year.

**We skip the Visitation, so my icon is amusingly not quite right for this post.

***Yes, it's a traditional Nativity play mash up of Matthew and Luke's accounts.
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