One of you, one of us, I should say, has long commemorated the Twelve Days of Christmas. Today we’re going to commemorate her commemoration.
I’ve always rather … not liked … that song too well. My favorite rendition was the one my grown children performed one Christmas, which … commemorated! … twelve Christmas quirks special to our family … “David drinking eggnog … Kerri caught in a snow storm … Noni’s … Christmas … LETTER!” You should have been here! David guzzled a glass of the real stuff each time through until he was nearly as green as the tree … they threw handsfull of chopped Styrofoam all over my living room to highlight the memory of that unhappy event when road closures kept Kerri thirty miles away on Christmas Eve at a Holiday Inn, and oh my! They read little excerpts from my Christmas letters that were so very well done that I thought they had actually copied from my files … until the entries became more and more ludicrous and hysterical … like “Austin just started his first year at M.I.T. We are all going to miss him, but we will enjoy having a twelve year old systems engineer in the family!”
Here for your consideration … is all this just dragging the holidays out, ad nauseum?
That, of course, depends upon one’s view of the purpose for all these liturgical episodes. To many of us, this season is the greatest preparatory division of the year. Lent is for reflection, repentance, and penance – don’t be frightened by that word. We’re going to give it a facelift coming up! Pentecost is exultant and powerful. Advent and Epiphany are really rather quiet, overwhelmingly hopeful and watchful.
I keep trying, as I read through the Gospels, to keep a complete list of how many times Jesus tells us to “watch and pray,” to “be on guard,” to be “steadfast” or “sober” in our daily lives. I’ve never completed the count, but it’s OFTEN. When we consider that the Lord doesn’t always repeat Himself, this seems significant to me.
We have three days left in this year, and of those Twelve Days from December 26 to January 6 (the traditional day marking the visit of the Magi, the revelation of Jesus as God in flesh, and thus the day of His revelation to the Gentiles,) today is number 4.
Remember the song? Four Calling Birds … believed to represent the four Gospels, calling to the world to put all trust and hope in Christ Jesus. That’s today!
Let me share another personal anecdote with you: there are a number of us that are currently winding up our FIFTH reading through the Gospels. We started before Christmas last year and have read one chapter each morning, taking notes brief or otherwise, as we choose, all year long. We will finish up early in February. For thirteen months we have shared one discovery or reflection for each chapter when we gathered, weekly.
Oh, how I do encourage you to make the daily reading of the Gospels a perennial habit! This project came to us through a young man who began doing so in prison, doing “hard time,” and whose testimony was to us that on the third time through, his life changed forever. Must have – he is a very influential and Christlike pastor now.
The Scriptures themselves speak of the preeminence of the Gospels.
As you map out your 2015 trajectory, consider including a daily visit to the words of Christ Jesus. For us, those of us who began this quest over a year ago, we concluded that this would be the single best way of having what the disciples had … unmitigated Jesus! That was the only thing that set them apart from you and me … they had three years of Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus. They left us the core, and the Holy Spirit has given us the unction, of those years so that we can have Him, too.
Three more days … may God grant us grace to spend part of them listening to hear what He has in store for us as this New Year dawns.