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Merry Christmas!
No, I’m not late in saying that. It’s still Christmastide!
Historically, Christmastide was not just a day of celebration, but was a festival season, beginning on December 25 (or sundown on the 24), and lasting for 12 days. Hence the old song.
Our country’s seasons are now marked predominantly by the secular marketplace. Mostly gone are historical seasons like Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Pentecost. Though “Christmas” and “Easter” are still in our collective consciousness, Jesus is often replaced by Santa and the Easter Bunny.
Back in the 80’s, when I first understood the meaning and heritage of the 12 Days of Christmastide, I decided to practice it. It started just with our family. Eventually it spread to the churches I attended and served. Oh, we still got into the holiday spirit with decorations, gift-giving and songs about snow, sleighs and Santa. But we do this with a spirit of preparation – for the bigger feast to come.
During the 12 Days, we would spread our gift giving out, giving the smallest presents on the early days, and the larger ones on the later days (like the old song!). We basked in the sacred music of the season. Most of all, we partied! It was not unusual for us, along with those of like minds, to have parties and open houses every night during the 12 Days. At church, as we do at Christ’s Greenfield, we celebrate the Christmastide Sundays with Christmas texts, songs and colors.
While the “Christmas spirit” has faded to a post-Christmas letdown for many in our world, we the church were drinking deeply of the glad tidings of Christmas!
“On the Seventh Day of Christmas” … at Christ’s Greenfield (that’s Sunday, December 31 by the way!), I’ll have the privilege of sharing the Christmas story from Luke 2 which features two grand old saints, Simeon and Anna. For years and years these two waited (Advent) for the coming of Messiah (Christmas). It is wonderful to see their response to the gift of the incarnate son of God, Jesus … “I have seen Thy salvation!”
But, now what? Jesus is born. Christmas has come. But, really, what does it mean? Having celebrated Christmastide today, how do we walk into our tomorrow? I look forward to peering into the lives of these octogenarians for some insight into living lives well in response to the gospel! I hope you’ll join me.
And Epiphany is right around the corner! Time to finally add your wise men to your nativity scenes!...
Merry Christmastide!
P.S. For you faithful CGLCS Blog readers who actually read to the very end… I’d like to offer you an invitation! If you’d like to join Karen and me at our home for a Twelfth Night Party (the evening of the 12 Day of Christmastide) on Friday, January 5, please RSVP to me. We’ll share the story, sing the carols, feast together and say “Merry Christmas!” one last time in honor of our Messiah who has come!