The 12 days of Christmas begins on 26 December
Most of us are accustomed to marking Advent. But the celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas is less familiar. I think a lot of this has to do with the Christmas marketing season – which seems to begin right after Halloween and ends abruptly on boxing day with a return to ‘regular’ music and yet another huge marketing initiative, namely boxing day/week sales!
But observing the 12 Days of Christmas is a 1500-year-old Christian tradition. In 567, the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany (traditionally January 6th) as a sacred and festive season, focused on celebrating the nativity of Jesus.
Over these 12 Days of Christmas, I will have a short post to help us ponder and pray on these 12 Days. We will continue to dwell in the Story of Jesus’ infant years, on John 1 and its themes of light, glory, grace and truth.
How do we experience the Light of Christmas – trust it, see it and share it?
Long ago in the time before all days, before the creation of all things, the one who is known as the Word was there, face to face with the Great Spirit. This Word fully represents Creator and shows us who he is and what he is like. He had always been there from the beginning for the Word and Creator are one and the same. Through the Word, all things came into and not one thing exists that he did not create.
Creator’s life shined out from the Word, giving light to all human beings. This is the true Light that comes to all the people of the world and shone on everyone. The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it or put it out.
Into the wilderness of the Land of Promise (Judea) came a man named Gift of Goodwill (John). He was sent to the Great Spirit to tell what he knew about the Light so everyone could believe. He was not the Light but came to speak the truth about the Light. The true Light that shines on all people was coming into the darkness of this world.
He came down into this world, and even though he made all things, the world did not recognize him. Even his own tribe did not welcome or honour him. But all who welcome and trust him receive their birthright as children of the Great Spirit. They are born in a new way, not from a human father’s plans or desires, but born from above—by the Great Spirit.
Creator’s Word became a flesh-and-blood human being and pitched his sacred tent among us, living as one of us. We looked upon his great beauty and saw how honourable he was, the king of honor held only by this one Son who fully represents his Father—full of his great kindness and truth… No one has ever seen the Great Spirit but the one Son, who is himself the Great Spirit and closest to the Father’s heart has shown us what he is like. John 1:1-14, 18, First Nations New Testament
- What words or phrases stand out to you (i.e. what is the Spirit highlighting)? Why do you think this is?
- What does it mean to you that “Creator’s Word became a flesh-and-blood human being and pitched his sacred tent among us, living as one of us” (v. 14)?
- How have you experienced “the true Light that comes to all the people of the world and [shines] on everyone” including your neighbours? (v.9)
- How might the Spirit be nudging you to respond? How will you?
You might want to journal your responses.
Almighty God and Father of light,
a child is born to us and a Son is given to us.
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.
Open our hearts to receive His life
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn,
that our lives may be filled with His glory and His peace,
who lives and reigns forever and ever.
(International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)
It’s likely you didn’t have much time to pray and ponder yesterday. Sp take a deep breath with your favourite calming cup in your favourite comfy chair:
- Look at the names on your Prayer List. How you have seen God at work over the last four weeks in yourself, your neighbours and your neighbourhood? What are you thankful for? How will you pray for them now?
- Do some pondering with regards to this Advent journey.
- What’s stood out for you?
- What have you learned?
- How have you seen God at work?
- What might God be saying to you? – to your neighbours? – through your neighbours?
- Perhaps you’ll want to write a poem, a psalm, a song or create a visual with paint, pencils or other materials to express your responses.
- You might want to start with a phrase that has been ‘stuck’ in your head and heart.
- Here is an example, “Mary is pondering…”
And treasuring these things in her heart.
No earthquakes thundering… No crown, nor royal robe,
no influential people domineering…
A simple home, a little village,
ordinary couple merely adhering…
Trust and openness volunteering
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace…
His story hearing…
Bright morning star, now in flesh appearing…
God is nearing
Light of Lights unfaltering
Infant-God; human- Divine entwining
Mystery and miracle.
Kingdom here and not yet.
We ponder too, can God impart
To mortal life, to human heart?
Can we open ourselves to paradox?
Can we figure out how to live without our box…
Healing in the suffering
Calm in the chaos
Joy in despair
Gratitude in grief
Rest in fatigue
Light in the darkness
Truth embodied. Glory in humility.
What child is this?
King in a stable.
Paradox is grace.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
PRACTICE: ABIDING IN CHRIST
- Listen to, ponder and/or sing a Christmas song throughout the day.
- Sing it with, for and over your neighbourhood—
- Allow the song to dwell in your mind and keep your heart attentive to God with us, Emmanuel, praying come Lord Jesus!
- A few Song Suggestions:
- Light of the World
- We The Kingdom – Light of the World (Sing Hallelujah)
- Noel Chris Tomlin
- The Heart of Christmas
- Pause and ponder some Advent art, nativity scenes, Christmas decorations…
- You may want to focus particularly on a piece of art that communicates to you light, grace and truth.
- How do the depictions make you feel?
- What do you appreciate?
- What do you wonder about?
- How might you envision, look for, carry with you, and share the gifts of Christmas today?
- You might want to take a picture of it on your phone for future pondering.