The Twelfth Day of Christmas

danger. lighthouse, big surWe have arrived and the Twelfth Day of Christmas and the final day of Christmastide. In the olden days, as in Tudor England, Twelfth Night was devoted to intense merrymaking, capping off the festive season of Christmas. I don’t think King Henry VIII needed much prodding for merrymaking, but it looked good to the Church to officially limit the excesses that go along with festivities.

It’s fitting that we end our Christmas season with the image of light, bookending Christmas Day and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. The darkness of Advent gives way to the light of Christ and everything changes. Or at least we’re posed with that possibility.

During Advent we ask: Will light break into the darkest corners of our hearts, our families, our lives? Will God take the wretched mess of our world and redeem it? Can we trust the light to come?

God answers in the birth of Christ.

Twelfth Day of Christmas Scripture

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. ~ John 1:1-5

John deliberately echoes In the beginning of Genesis and the time of creation. He links Jesus to this creative moment when light first shone in the darkness of the world. During the Exodus when the children of Israel escaped Pharaoh in Egypt and entered into the Promised Land, they wandered in the desert, guided by a Pillar of Cloud by day and a Pillar of fire by night. Light is used as a metaphor throughout the Bible.

Light is also used as a metaphor in our own lives, almost without even thinking. When someone offers new information on a subject, we say, “she shed light on the subject.” We refer to a good plan and a “bright idea”. Cartoons use the image of a lightbulb for a new or creative idea. An intelligent person is “very bright”. The Dark Ages is referred to as the indistinct time after the Roman Empire when education, discovery, and invention was suspect. “The Enlightenment” marked the rise of education, exploration, and expansion.

The essential idea all this plays off is that ignorance and the darkness of sin and suffering go together; while education and intelligence and learning will throw off that darkness and bring healing and wellness. There’s truth in that, but it’s not the complete truth. We still need a light that learning and intelligence and technology cannot provide.  We need to learn the lessons of love and caring and compassion and sacrifice. Those lessons require a living example to show us the way.

God provided this living example in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Twelfth Day of Christmas Action

That’s a lot to digest and certainly isn’t meant to be so intense it dampens the merrymaking of the Twelfth Day of Christmas. In fact, it gives us a lot to celebrate.

As we leave our Christmas season, these are the questions we must ask ourselves now: Will we allow the light that shines to illuminate the darkest corners of hearts, our families, and our lives? Will we follow Jesus to untwist the mangled mess of our souls, allowing ourselves to be redeemed? Will we trust the light or will we hide from it?

Twelfth Day of Christmas Prayer

May I walk in the light as a child of the light. Amen.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Dry Advent WreathThe Eleventh Day of Christmas and almost the end of the Christmas season. If there’s one thing we’ve seen throughout Advent up through the Eleventh Day of Christmas is that nothing, absolutely nothing goes as expected. Every time we think that everything is going back to normal in the story, there’s a twist and our expectations of everything social, economic, political, and religious is upended.

And that was God’s plan all along.

If you look back over this journey we’ve taken through Advent and Christmas, we see God mixing it up time and time again.

We began Advent: Advent is a time of waiting for God to show up and wondering what God is going to do. But it’s not just waiting and wondering on our side about what God is going to do. God is waiting and wondering too. God is waiting on us and wondering what we’re going to do.

We met John the Baptizer, who could have easily been voted least likely to succeed at Nazareth High. In fact, he’s beginning to wonder if he missed it about Jesus. He was waiting for the Messiah and had even preached all about him. John was expecting someone who was going to be to a little more kingly, a political ruler setting people free from oppression and all that. Instead, he’s his cousin Jesus socializing as one of Jerusalem’s most popular dinner guests, healing people and talking about the poor and meek being blessed.

We were introduced to a host of ordinary, relatable people with real lives that God singled out to be used for something extraordinary. Mary. Joseph. Other tidbits from life.

On Christmas we were challenged to reinterpret Christmas: The Word becoming a human being – being born of flesh and blood to participate in life, to experience struggles, and the events of daily life – to give us an awareness of a life full of grace and truth.

Because of Jesus our lives can be reinterpreted. Because God has come to us in this way, we can reinterpret our pasts and move toward a life lived in the light of truth and grace rather than a life overshadowed by the darkness of our painful memories and experiences. This is the promise behind this amazing birth.

We can reinterpret, rework, rewrite, experience rebirth of our own lives. The light of Christ shines into our darkness. And the darkness did not, does not, and will not overcome it. Ever.

Christmastide Action

We’re getting ready to move into a whole new season – Epiphany. If God is anything like God has been so far on our journey, we can be certain that the adventure will continue. No doubt, we’re in for some surprises of our own.

This might be a good time to reflect back on your Advent and Christmastide experience. A lot has happened between the beginning of Advent and the Eleventh Day of Christmas. Maybe looking over a few of the posts during this time will jog your memory. I encourage you to write down anything that jumps out and surprises you.

Christmastide Prayer

Waiting and wondering in Advent. Light in our darkness in Christmas. The new year stretching before me. On this Eleventh Day of Christmas, may I remain alert to what’s next. Amen.

The Tenth Day of Christmas

Dry Advent WreathIt’s the Tenth Day of Christmas and my Advent wreath is very dry and brittle. My Christmas tree is still up because I didn’t feel like taking it down on New Year’s Day as is my usual custom. While some keep their Christmas decor up through the full Twelve Days of Christmas, most of us are ready to put it all away, another Christmas survived, and move on to conquer the New Year.

I bet that’s how Joseph and Mary felt after the birth of Jesus. They were probably looking forward to returning to Nazareth and beginning their life together as a family. Especially Joseph. He was looking forward to returning to his carpentry shop and some things that were familiar and routine. Mary’s unexpected pregnancy and then that angel were not exactly how he envisioned starting married life. Then you add on having to travel to Bethlehem for the census, the baby’s birth in a cave with the animals, the local shepherds showing up, and three complete and total strangers arriving from someplace in the East, bringing gifts he never, ever imagined. No, this was not normal. Yes, he was really looking forward to getting home.

And then he had another dream. If I was Joseph, I might be afraid to fall asleep!

Christmastide Scripture

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” ~ Matthew 2:13-15

Christmastide Action

Sometimes we think we’d welcome a warning of impending disaster. However, there are always accounts of people who, even when warned to evacuate, do not do so and find themselves having to be rescued. Most of us live by our faith, our choices, and our instincts. We live knowing that the decisions we make, while often guided by a deep sense of God’s guidance, are often still very much our own.

Recall a time when you were given a clear warning? How did your respond?

Christmastide Prayer

As I start this New Year, may I be ever-mindful of Your presence in my life. May I listen for Your voice guiding me and sending me to safety. May I feel Your touch healing my pain. May I know joy and wonder, even in the unknown. Amen.


The Ninth Day of Christmas

Photo: Janet Peterson
Photo: Janet Peterson

The Ninth Day of Christmas and the second day of the New Year. Yep. Weird and not worth thinking about, in my humble opinion. Which brings me to my word for the New Year: humility.

My spiritual practice on New Year’s Day has been to select a word that serves as a character-building trait for the year. This year I let the Eternal Scheme Daily Word’s algorithm choose for me. My word for 2014 is Humility.

My sister, Saint Sam, and I were all selecting our words for the New Year together. My sister received her word, Dedication, and Saint Sam got Understanding. I got Humility. I hate to admit it, but my immediate response was to get another word, definitely an indicator that Humility is the perfect word for me for this year.

I hope you will go on over to Eternal Scheme and select your own word for the year. You can look up the information selected or created to illuminate the word – quote, scripture, prayer, and action – if you have the Daily Word ebook, or you can sign in to get the same information for free.

Here is what I will be pondering about Humility this year:

~ ~ ~

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

~ Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O.
(French-American Trappist monk, writer, and social activist, 1915-1968)

◊ ◊ ◊

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

~ Philippians 2:3

◊ ◊ ◊


Great God, who has told us
“Vengeance is mine,”
save us from ourselves,
save us from the vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.

Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.

Give us the strength it takes
to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again
to make peace even when peace eludes us.

We ask, O God, for the grace
to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision
to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people
to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.

We ask for the love it takes
to bequeath to the children of the world to come
more than the failures of our own making.
We ask for the heart it takes
to care for all the peoples
of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel
as well as for ourselves.

Give us the depth of soul, O God,
to constrain our might,
to resist the temptations of power
to refuse to attack the attackable,
to understand
that vengeance begets violence,
and to bring peace–not war–wherever we go.

For You, O God, have been merciful to us.
For You, O God, have been patient with us.
For You, O God, have been gracious to us.

And so may we be merciful
and patient
and gracious
and trusting
with these others whom you also love.

This we ask through Jesus,
the one without vengeance in his heart.
This we ask forever and ever. Amen.

~ Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.
(American Benedictine nun, author, and speaker, b. 1936)

◊ ◊ ◊


Humility is a difficult trait for us prideful creatures to consider. While many consider humility a weakness, true humility is an admirable strength. It’s having a realistic view of one’s self, seeing ourselves as no better or no worse than anyone else. Who are humility role models for you? How can you practice more humility in your own life?

You might consider writing in a journal or sharing what you experienced.

~ ~ ~

I will be heeding my own advice and definitely be writing about my experience with Humility in my digital journal. Over the years I have gained great wisdom and insight from journaling. Journaling taps into and helps unlock our unconscious minds where all sorts of goodies reside.

On this Ninth Day of Christmas and second day of the New Year, I know another of God’s gifts to me will be using Humility in my personal and ongoing transformation. What about you? What is your word for the New Year?

The Eighth Day of Christmas and Happy New Year!

New YearHappy New Year! There’s something magical about the first day of a new year. It’s like there 365 new days of opportunities and adventures waiting to unfold. So many unknowns waiting to be revealed as we begin and end each day.

We really have no sense of what will transpire this coming year. We know there will be good things and bad things. There will be stuff that’s expected and there will, undoubtedly, be stuff that completely stuns us. We know there will be change and we also know with all certainty, we cannot control every outcome. As our Eighth Day of Christmas Scripture reminds us, there is a time for everything and everything will have its own time.

Christmastide and New Year Scripture

For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:

    A time to be born, a time to die;
        a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
    A time to kill, a time to heal;
        a time to tear down, a time to build up;
    A time to cry, a time to laugh;
        a time to mourn, a time to dance;
    A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
        a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
    A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
        a time to keep, a time to throw out;
    A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
        a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
    A time to love, a time to hate;
        a time to go to war, a time to make peace.

What good comes to anyone who works so hard, all to gain a few possessions? I have seen the kinds of tasks God has given each of us to do to keep one busy, and I know God has made everything beautiful for its time. God has also placed in our minds a sense of eternity; we look back on the past and ponder over the future, yet we cannot understand the doings of God. I know there is nothing better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; to eat and drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (The Voice)

Christmastide and New Year Action

The Teacher who scribed our passage tucks in a special nugget for us: We may not understand the doings of God, but we can be joyful, do good, eat and drink, and see the good in all our hard work – all gifts from God. It might be good to write this out and post it alongside your seven questions for yourself as a grounding touchstone for come what may this new year.

Christmastide and New Year Prayer

As I look back on the past and ponder the future, I know there is much I do not understand. May I accept the gifts given to me each day and the experiences that unfold with it. May I find joy in all I undertake, wisdom in the encounters, and peace in the moments. Hold me close to Your heart this New Year. Amen.

The Seventh Day of Christmas and Seven Questions for the New Year

QuestionsQuestions. We all have them. We all ask them. But how many of us really consider asking them of ourselves? Today this Seventh Day of Christmas, we are on the precipice of one year ending and another year beckoning.

Many earnestly begin each new year with a set of resolutions only to find themselves sabotaged before the first week of the year is complete. A whole lot more is involved in fulfilling resolutions than merely stating them or writing them out and posting them on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

That’s why I like questions. The purpose of questions is to elicit information or raise a doubt about the truth or validity of something. Questions cause us to go deeper and probe, so that we come out better informed or more confident about whatever it is we’re questioning … including our priorities.

Christmastide Scripture

Think carefully about your choices. ~ Haggai 1:5

If you’re like most people I know, you feel pulled in a myriad of directions: full schedules, necessary and worthwhile activities, family, work, friends for starters. And then there’s God. Priorities isn’t a 21st century challenge. It’s was a challenge when Haggai raised it to the first group of exiles returning to their homeland over 2,500 years ago. Priorities we set for ourselves often get lost in the pursuit of other worthwhile activities.

Christmastide Action

These are the seven questions, in no particular order, I am asking myself this year:

1. What is one important thing I will do to improve the quality of my family life this year?

2. What spiritual discipline will I commit to this year?

3. What social issue will I learn more about it this year?

4. What books (besides the Bible, of course) do I want to read this year?

5. What will I simplify in my life this year?

6. What new health habit will I develop this year?

7. What relationship will I cultivate this year?

What are your questions for the year? Post your questions where you will see them every day, preferably in a couple of key locations, to remind yourself of your personal priorities for the new year.

Christmastide Prayer

I am thankful for the close of this year and grateful for all of the lessons of the year. May I be ever open and hopeful going into this new year. I will think carefully about my choices. I will trust Your guidance. I will seek to be empowered by Your Spirit. Amen.

The Sixth Day of Christmas and Top Six Posts

seagull_year6clearI don’t have six geese a-laying, so I thought I’d highlight the top six posts for 2013 on this Sixth Day of Christmas. Saint Sam always reminds me that numbers never lie, so here are the top six posts by the numbers.

Number 6 – An Attitude of Gratitude. I wrote this post two years ago around Thanksgiving. It goes to show that some topics, like gratitude, are timeless. They resonate and remain relevant regardless of when written.

Number 5 – Asking Saves Kids. This one surprised me. I learned about this national day, Asking Saves Kids (ASK), while attending an Organizing for Action event on reducing gun violence. I wrote it as a public service announcement; my code for not being disappointed if my numbers takes a dip. Every blogger has those topics that need to be written, but no one wants to read. Was I wrong! Parents are concerned about firearms in the homes of where their children play. Just one statistic: 80% of the children who are injured or killed in unintentional shootings are shot in their own homes or in the homes of relatives or friends (Pediatrics 2005).

Number 4 – The Gandhi Social Sins Series: 

I grouped them together because if someone read one post, they then read the rest of the posts in the series. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about these seven social sins, or blunders as he called them, in 1925. They were the foundation of my personal Lenten study in 2012. Still relevant, maybe more so, today.

Number 3 – A group of posts about my brother’s death:

My brother died at the end of 2012. Needless to say, 2013 was a tough year. Grief is both personal and universal. Grief can also be healing and divisive. Grief exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly in individuals and families. Our family is no different.

Number 2 – Eternal Scheme Daily Word. My sister gave me a set of “angel cards” when I came out to California for the birth of our youngest granddaughter in 2010. I took that concept and created a devotional based character-type words like beauty, gratitude, integrity. Each word features a beautiful photo taken by my sister or myself, an inspirational quote, a sacred text, an action, and a prayer. Saint Sam wrote an algorithm that generates a randomly selected word with the click of a green button. I love the idea of a randomly given word and beautiful picture to be my thought or spiritual guide for the day. It seems, that others do too.

Number 1 – Gun Deaths Since Newtown. I was so disgusted with Congress’ inability to pass common sense gun legislation in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012 – also the same day of my brother’s memorial service, and his was a gun death. I wondered how many had died from gun deaths since Newtown and found Slate magazine’s online graphic that was being crowdsourced to document the real lives lost behind the numbers. For the past year I updated the daily list as a way to honor those who have died from gun violence and to illustrate the enormous public health issue gun violence is in the United States. I know many found my site in their search for more information regarding a loved one’s death. Others emailed with questions, and some in anger, but all came from that raw place of grief. There are a lot of people trying to make sense out of the senselessness of gun violence.

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I am thankful for you readers and the privilege of sharing my thoughts.

Image credit: Ramu

The Fifth Day of Christmas

saturnseasons_hubble_960It’s the Fifth Day of Christmas and we’re living into the Christmas story. In fact, that is the whole and sole purpose of any and all of the stories of the Bible: as we live into the stories and experiences of our lives, God is available to live into our story and our experience. The caveat is that God is not rude or intrusive, but waits to be invited.

As we saw in the Fourth Day of Christmas and the Massacre of Innocents, there is a messy and painful side of the mystery of God with us in Jesus Christ. I, for one, am grateful that Matthew and other Biblical writers don’t dodge this reality of this shadow side of life. There is a lot in our lives that is not safe and secure. The whole point of God taking on human flesh – the Incarnation – was precisely to be among us, to be in solidarity with all who suffer from the consequences of sin and death that abounds this side of eternity.

Christmastide Scripture

I love our Christmastide Scripture for today. It’s a reminder that when a savior is needed it’s because there is distress and someone is in trouble. God is personally interested and invested, never turning it over to a messenger or angel.

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord,
    the praiseworthy acts of the Lord,
because of all that the Lord has done for us,
    and the great favor to the house of Israel
that [God] has shown them according to [God’s] mercy,
    according to the abundance of [God’s] steadfast love.
For [God] said, “Surely they are my people,
    children who will not deal falsely”;
and [God] became their savior
    in all their distress.
It was no messenger or angel
    but [God’s] presence that saved them;
in [God’s] love and in [God’s] pity [God] redeemed them;
    [God] lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. ~ Isaiah 63:7-9

Christmastide Action

How have you seen God at work when you have experienced hardship or suffering? What sort of distress might you consider turning over to God?

Christmastide Prayer

On this the Fifth Day of Christmas as I live into my Christmas story, may I be ever mindful that God is waiting and available to be part of my story too. Amen.


Image Credit: R. G. French (Wellesley College) et al., NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team 

The Fourth Day of Christmas

220px-Kerald_(Meister_des_Codex_Egberti)_001It’s the Fourth Day of Christmas. In the midst of all the festivities and feasting we have the Massacre of the Innocents. Yes, you did read that correctly. It used to be people could not read. Now people do not read, so the church does whatever it takes to get in teaching opportunities. (Well, that is a little facetious, but you get my point, even if it is the Fourth Day of Christmas.)

The most evil of the four Herods was king when Jesus was born. He was notoriously ruthless, killing anyone, including three of his own sons, at the mere rumor of threat to his throne. So when the three Magi showed up looking for the newborn king of the Jews whose star they had seen, Herod’s paranoia was on high alert. What? A baby born to be king of the Jews? And since there might have been some lag time between the birth of this baby and him receiving this news, he had every male child under the age of two killed in the area surrounding Bethlehem.

Matthew, the gospel writer whose purpose was to establish the Messiah lineage and  fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies surrounding Jesus, is the one who mentions this horrific event. Even the renowned first century historian Josephus doesn’t record it. Nevertheless, it is consistent with Herod’s personality and behavior.

Christmastide Scripture


In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Massacre of the Infants

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” ~ Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18

Christmastide Action

We should not be surprised at the possibility of Herod’s horrific actions. Infanticide and genocide are still carried out today. We’ve all read accounts and seen pictures of the atrocities carried out against humanity today, as well as over the centuries. We cannot, we must not, forget that it has happened, it is happening, and we have in our power – with the help of God – to keep it from happening.

Christmastide Prayer

[Gracious God], receive our prayer of tears and sorrow over those children consumed by a world that holds no regard for them. We pray for children left hungry and thirsty, left to fend for themselves on the streets, left to be abused by poor, twisted souls. In your mercy receive our prayers of intercession for children around the world. Amen. ~ from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

The Third Day of Christmas

Big Blue MarbleIt’s the Third Day of Christmas and most of us have already forgotten Christmas. All of the anticipation and build up to The Magical Day and when it passes we sigh another sigh of relief that we survived. Not only did we survive, many of us are already thrust back into the daily grind of work and laundry, with the little twist of kids home from school. There’s no gradual wind down to Christmas, it’s an abrupt end. You know because you don’t hear carols any longer in stores when exchanging gifts and taking advantage of after-Christmas sales.

Hence, this Third Day of Christmas, we’re going to sing Joy to the WorldI’m thinking about the carol Joy to the World, but Hoyt Axton’s version – “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” – made famous by Three Dog Night will do if you don’t know the hymn. They both make reference to the essence of Psalm 98, our Christmastide Scripture today.

Christmastide Scripture

O sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
    have gotten him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
    he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
    let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity. ~ Psalm 98

Christmastide Action

Isaac Watts, who wrote Joy to the World, was the first hymn-writer who, instead of quoting Scripture directly, wrote lyrics like he would poetry. He was the first to bring original songs written from the Christian experience into worship, a practice that is essential to worship three hundred years later.

Here’s you chance to belt out Joy to the World, whichever version you choose, this Third Day of Christmas.

Christmastide Prayer

May I continue the joy and wonder and noise of Christmas long after the season ends. Amen.

Photo: NASA

The Second Day of Christmas by Jasper Bunny

Jasper FireplaceHappy Second Day of Christmas! I know some people call this Boxing Day, but us Netherlanders (remember I am a Netherland dwarf bunny) call it the Second Day of Christmas. Besides, my Auntie is blogging through the Twelve Days of Christmas so this is much more appropriate. Mostly, I’m just glad I finally get to write! You’d think there was something special about Christmas since I hardly got to write anything at all leading up to it!

Since it is the Second Day of Christmas, did you get your true love two turtle doves? That’s what’s so great about the Twelve Days; each day’s gift is specified for you and you don’t have to rack your little brain for ideas!

Now you all know I’m not the most religious bunny on the planet, so I’m just going to tell you that someone, probably the same person that started the whole thing about seeing Jesus’ face in the clouds, has put religious symbolism with each of the Twelve Days. The First Day of Christmas, True Love, is God. The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments. Personally, since the words were first printed in a children’s book in 1780, it’s more likely a fun culmultive song for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The other thing about the Twelve Days of Christmas is that there are a whole lot of saint feast days. I guess those Middle Ages people needed an excuse to party hearty. All those religious political power people who liked making up religious rules and regulations probably felt guilty for just partying, so they attached all these religious feast days to sanctify their partying. Personally, I think God gets it. Jesus, who is is whom this season is all about, was Jerusalem’s most popular dinner guest and they all drank wine in those days. I think Jesus liked a good party.

Well, I wasn’t planning to write about all that! I have a whole lot of other good stuff to share and I hope I get another chance before it all dribbles out of my head!

In the meantime, I going watch this video that tells the story of the good King Wenceslaus, which is special for Boxing Day and the Second Day of Christmas, while sitting in front of the fire. That is if it isn’t a spare the air day in my part of California.

Christmas Reinterpreted

Star BubbleHave you ever thought about how you approach Christmas? Are you aware of your own expectations for the holiday? The traditions of what’s always been done and when you move through the motions they just don’t feel right or work anymore anymore? It’s like Christmas past is bumping up against Christmas present and you don’t even want to fathom Christmas future.

Christmas is fraught with both expectations and memories. It’s one of the few holidays where we use the same materials to create a similar play: the Christmas tree, the gifts, the holiday meal, the relatives. The script is always the same. The pressure is always high to get it right. The choices people make never seem any clearer or better. Nothing changes.

Christmas traditions must always be reinterpreted within the context of current circumstances. Divorce, illness, aging, death, moving, children, no children, and a bunch of other possibilities all create a different set of circumstances which must be factored into each current Christmas.

And it happens every year. Each year, Christmas must be reinterpreted.

Christmas Scripture

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1-14

John’s Christmas story is a complete reinterpretation of the old, traditional Christmas story that is read every year. There are no heavenly hosts singing, no shepherds in the fields watching their flocks by night, no star, no stable and manger, no mother and child. It is only the Word.

John’s reinterpretation of the Christmas story is not so much about the birth of Jesus as it is about the birth of God into the world and God giving birth to the world. It’s about God’s creation of the world and all that is in it. It’s about how in the beginning of time, the Word of God became flesh – God incarnate, God with us – all in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Word becoming a human being – being born of flesh and blood to participate in life, to experience struggles, and the events of daily life – to give us an awareness of a life full of grace and truth.

Because of Jesus our lives can be reinterpreted. Because God has come to us in this way, we can reinterpret our pasts and move toward a life lived in the light of truth and grace rather than a life overshadowed by the darkness of our painful memories and experiences. This is the promise behind this amazing birth.

We can reinterpret, rework, rewrite, experience rebirth of our own lives. The light of Christ shines into our darkness. And the darkness did not, does not, and will not overcome it. Ever.

Merry [reinterpreted] Christmas.

Christmas Action

How are you reinterpreting Christmas this year?

Christmas Prayer

We are the people that walked in darkness.
We are the people who have seen a great light.
We are the people who have dwelt in the land of the shadow of death.
We are the people upon whom has the light shined. Amen.

Photo credit: NASA Astro Pic of the Day from Chandra X-ray Observatory. This cosmic bubble lies some 5,200 light-years away and covers slightly more sky than a Full Moon.