Now that Christmas Day is over many of us feel let down because the day we have been anticipating for so long is over. The malls strip their elaborate decorations and junk their remaining Christmas stocks with huge 50-70% off sales. The Christmas wreaths and trees are thrown out for the garbage collectors and our frenzied activities give way to a low-grade depression. But Christmas isn’t really over. In the sixth century, it was decided that celebrating Christmas just for a day didn’t provide time to celebrate all the joy that Christ’s birth brought into the world. They made Christmas into a twelve-day festival that ended with a feast on the Eve of Epiphany on January 5th to celebrate the coming of the wise men. Yep, that’s right the 12 days of Christmas begin with Christmas Day they don’t end there as many malls would have us believe. In countries where this understanding of Christmas has not been co-opted by the commercialism of our society Christmas trees are not decorated until Christmas Eve and remain in the house sparkling with light and life until the Eve of Epiphany.
This is the season when we are meant to celebrate with joy and gratitude the wonder of a God whose love is so great that he sent his son to dwell amongst us. How incredible! How wonderful! Let’s take advantage of every day of the Christmas season
Sit down with your family now that Christmas day is over – read the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds in the fields. To me, this is one of the most incredible stories in the Bible. Imagine it. This event was so incredible that even the angels were excited. In fact, they were so excited that they could not contain themselves. They had to break into the earthly realm with shouts of joy proclaiming that the promised Messiah had come to live amongst us.
Discuss your reactions to this story and to the whole account of the birth of Christ. When you read through the gospel account how do you feel? What is your earliest memory of when Christ first appeared to you? Share how you felt at that time and talk about the difference that Christ’s presence has made in your life. Then ask yourselves: What most excites you today about the presence of Christ in your life? How does his presence impact your life? Next, discuss ways that you could share the joy of Christmas with others during the following days. You might like to write down one suggestion for each of the 12 days of Christmas that could extend the joy of the season to others.
Here are some suggestions. Do you know people that are alone at this season? Take them out for a meal or invite them to go skiing or if you are in the southern hemisphere, swimming with you. Share with them your reasons for continuing to celebrate the joy of Christmas beyond December 25th. Do you know people who are disabled? Take them for a drive around your neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights. Do you have friends, acquaintances or family your rarely speak to? Phone one person each evening during Christmas to share your joy with them.
Here is a short Christmas prayer you might like to use during this season to remind you of the reason for the season.
Next year I hope I will have time to put this into another music video.
A Christmas Prayer
God of love and peace
Ruler of all worlds and shepherd of creation
Your majesty breaks forth in power and might
Yet you come to us in the gentleness of love
The promise of life hidden in a mother’s womb
This is the time we believe once more
That your perfect love casts our fear
And your presence transforms hate into peace
This is the time we are assured
That your light has come into the world
And the darkness will not overcome it
God of joy and celebration
We gather to sing your praises
We shout aloud Hallelujah!
In this season of God with us
We are graced with your presence
We are filled with your love
In this season of God with us
May we be transformed
Into vessels of love and peace
May we become bearers of your light
And proclaim your life to a troubled world