The Holy Innocents

By Michael W. Salemink

Date: December 28, 2019

Category: Abortion, Abortion and the Church

Today, December 28, we observe Holy Innocents. From Matthew 2:16-18 (ESV):

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’”


On Saturday, December 14, 2019, Pastor Michael Salemink, executive director of Lutherans For Life, was invited to share reflections at an event coordinated by the pro-life group Defenders of the Unborn. The event is held every year outside the local Planned Parenthood and is called the Empty Manger Vigil. There were prayers, the singing of Christmas carols, and Scripture readings. “Saint Nicholas” was also there carrying a sack of toys for the children who were absent, denied by abortion of their first birthday.

On this day of Holy Innocents, it seems appropriate to share Pastor Salemink’s reflections from the vigil.


We have gathered here to lament. We have gathered here to mourn. We have gathered here to grieve. Evil has invaded our world. Sin has settled over our land. Satan has persuaded our people to use death as a solution. The devil has deceived vulnerable minds to view death as a solution to difficulty, to suffering, to surprise pregnancy, and to terminal diagnosis.

We have gathered here to bear witness to an empty manger. We have gathered here to bear witness to the cradles that lie empty in so many homes. We have gathered to remember the wombs, the consciences, the arms, the hearts that abortion has left empty and hollow.

We have gathered here to repent of our own apathy, our own inactivity, and our own apprehension that have allowed this to happen. We have gathered to confess our own acquiescing to a culture that assesses human worth and purpose according to age or appearance or ability, a culture that compares and competes and regards neighbors—particularly the least of these—as rivals instead of privileges.

We have gathered here to remind this community, to remind this civilization, that Herods still slay their little ones—our little ones—in anger and in fear. We have gathered to acknowledge that sometimes we permit and promote and participate in that same anger and fear. We have gathered to testify that a manger lies empty because many would remove Almighty God from His rightful throne and reject His authority as Lord and Savior among us.

We have gathered here to weep with Rachel, if only in our spirits, because the littlest innocents have been martyred, because her children have been slaughtered, and they are no more. We have gathered here to weep with Jesus, if only in our spirits, because He often longed to gather the children, even the infants and the unborn ones and the embryos, unto Himself as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they would not. Our people would not—more than sixty million times over forty-seven years they would not—and we have gathered here to behold that too many houses have been left desolate.

Yet we have been gathered here to rejoice. Yes, we have been gathered here to rejoice at an empty manger. We have been gathered here to celebrate that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have been gathered here to celebrate that we have beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. We have been gathered here to repeat and to proclaim that our God, the Maker, has incarnated Himself alongside us. We have been gathered here to declare that His great compassion has involved Him in our world, in our nature, in our condition, in our pain, in our failure, and even in our sinfulness and death.

We have been gathered here to delight that the manger is empty because the Christ child not only endured our anger and fear but He survived it, because the light shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. We have been gathered here to testify that the manger is empty because Jesus grew and knew our difficulty and our suffering and our sorrow. We have been gathered here to bear witness that the manger is empty because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of humankind, and the Lord of creation, has gone out into the world and into lives and homes and hearts.

We have been gathered here to rejoice that Jesus left the manger to lift Himself up on the cross, on our cross, to undergo punishment in our place, to atone for all evil, to pay the price and render ransom for every life, to sacrifice His body and blood for us, to die for us. We have been gathered here to rejoice that not only has the manger been emptied but the grave itself has been vacated, too. Christ has risen, returned, and ascended to reign over the heavens and the earth—our past, present, and future.

So, let us speak today and from this time forward. Let us speak the truth that God creates, redeems, and calls every human life to be His own precious treasure forever. Let us share His love that makes each member of our race sacred, such that neither productivity nor popularity nor prettiness nor power can improve or impair it. Let us show courage and compassion to claim children from the clutches of selfishness and hell and receive them as priceless and irreplaceable gifts from fertilization until forever—the children and their parents and the politicians and the abortionists and anyone broken by their role in these massacres.

Let us open our eyes, our mouths, our hearts, our hands, our homes, and our churches to claim them and receive them as brothers and sisters in Christ. And let us ferry them with us into the everlasting heavenly kingdom where there is no more crying, where there is no more dying, until all the mangers are empty and the banquet table of the Lamb’s wedding feast is full. Amen!

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