Seven or eight years ago, a few days after December 25, I heard someone say to the checkout person at a local store, “Merry Christmas!” The clerk looked puzzled and said, “Why would you say that? Christmas is over.” Apparently, the clerk didn’t know that the Christmas season lasts for twelve days. On another occasion, I listened to an announcer on a local Christian radio station proclaim that the 12 days began December 14 leading up to Christmas Day on the 25th!
December 25 marks the first day of Christmas and takes us to the Eve of Epiphany (January 5). This is a period of joy and thanksgiving celebrating God’s promise of a Savior who comes in the form of a child born of a young woman. The story of Jesus’s birth is found in Luke. Luke’s story focuses on Mary, the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds. Matthew’s story isn’t as detailed about the birth of Jesus. He focuses on Joseph. Jesus’s birth is mentioned without any fanfare but then speaks of the Magi (wise men) who seek the king and find the Christ child in a house (The day of Epiphany). Two parallels in these two stories are: 1) the shepherds and the wise men follow a star to where Jesus is located; 2) when they find the child they “saw” the Christ child. The shepherds went and told their story and all who heard were amazed. When the wise men came to Jesus their eyes were opened and they were filled with joy.
While we may be exhausted from listening to Christmas carols since the day after Halloween, the gift buying, family gatherings or perhaps being told we should be “happy” and “joyful” when in fact, we find ourselves grieving or lost.
During there 12 days, contemplate the gift God has given to you. The baby Jesus, who as an adult will teach us what it means to be loved and to love. He would die on the cross only to be raised three days later. No matter how lonely, exhausted or overwhelmed we may feel, we have a God who knows what it is to hurt, grieve, and to die. God loves us unconditionally. God is here. God is with us!
Read both the stories from Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-12. May your hearts and minds be open to the glory, joy and awe first witnessed by Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men.God blessings be upon you this Christmas season.