Don’t Take Down Your Christmas Decorations Yet!
Perhaps I am one of a select few that hit ‘skip’ on my Christmas music playlist when the 12 Days of Christmas comes on. Personally, I find the song a bit too repetitive and annoyingly detached from my experience. I wouldn’t want to receive any of the gifts listed in the song, nor would I give them. The repetitive nature of the song probably harkens back to its likely French origins as a ‘memory and forfeits’ game, where if you got the repetition correct you’d win a small prize. However, it does not seem to be historically accurate that this song is a coded memory game for persecuted Christians.
But the song isn’t a countdown to Christmas! The song recalls what is for Christians the feast tradition of celebrating 12 days of Christmas from December 25 until Epiphany (or Three Kings Day) on January 6th. The proper name for this time is called Christmastide. During Christmastide, small gifts would be exchanged. Meals, gatherings, and worship all would take place during this season. Now we head out of town to visit family or go on vacation.
So, that’s right! Christmas is still going on! So don’t rush to take down your Christmas lights just yet! I will admit that with Christmas starting in October, it might be easy to move on to the next thing (Super Bowl, President’s Day mattress sales, Valentine’s Day… idk?). But I invite you to dwell in these remaining days of Christmastide to continually reflect on what God has done in Christ, by taking on the vulnerable flesh of a child to show us how much we are loved by God and the extent to which God will go to save us.
For the balance of Christmastide, I invite you into prayer as lead by Chaplain Rachel Hartland:
Jesus, whose mother was Mary:
we give thanks for those who have been mothers and fathers to us,
and for your own coming into this world.
We hold in prayer before you
all families of every size and description,
but especially those whose family life is broken in some way,
through abuse, bereavement, estrangement, debt, depression, or distance.
Jesus, as Joseph and Mary were bound to each other in love for you,
draw each of us to those whom you have purposed us to love,
that we might do so with patience and perseverance, insight, and inspiration.
Jesus, cradled in a manger:
we give thanks for those places we regard as safe, warm, and welcoming,
acknowledging the blessing of the security we experience.
We hold in prayer before you
all those who are homeless and living rough on the streets,
prey to violence, disease and in some cases their own addictions,
and all those refugees living a long way from home
in an effort to find a measure of safety,
and provide food and shelter for their children.
Jesus, as Mary gently cradled you,
hold in your loving care each desperate individual and struggling family,
that with Mary & Joseph they might know your presence
and one day come to proclaim your glory.
Jesus, sharing the stable with the animals:
we give thanks for the wonders of your creation which you came into
so that we might know your light and life.
We hold in prayer before you those things we have done to your world
which have damaged it to breaking point,
our greed to possess the best of everything,
and our obsession with draining away the gifts and wonders of what we call the natural world.
Jesus, as the animals brought warmth to your first hours on earth,
give us the humility to set greed aside,
and the strength of will to use wisely the resources you provide.
Jesus, worshiped by shepherds and kings:
we give thanks for the diversity of cultures, nations and races which are together what makes us in the likeness of God.
We hold in prayer before you those disputed regions of the world,
where diversity of opinion or politics forms a barrier to peaceful co-existence,
and where borders and barriers seek to hide
brutal injustice, terror, and torture.
Jesus, just as you were brought gifts,
help us to use wisely those gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation
which you have given us for the good of all nations.
Jesus, our Emmanuel:
we give thanks that you came not only in the form of a human baby,
but continue to dwell with us through the power of your Holy Spirit.
We hold in prayer before you those in particular need
of the knowledge of your presence with them,
that through your Spirit they might know your strength,
your healing, your peace, and your amazing love for them.
Jesus, just as you come to us daily,
may we consciously make time to come to you,
not just this Christmas Day, but every day of our lives.
Jesus, we give thanks to you our living God:
born of the Virgin Mary,
revealed in glory,
worshiped by the angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed in throughout the world,
exalted to the highest heavens.
Blessed be God,
our strength and our salvation,
now and forever.
May the start of 2022 be blessed!