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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *