From the Rector…
Merry 4th day of Christmas!
Though society believes Christmas is only one day a year and begins celebrating that as early as the day after Thanksgiving, if not earlier, the Christmas season really lasts for twelve days beginning with December 25–thus the 12 Days of Christmas carol that we love and find exceedingly obnoxious all at the same time.
There are differing thoughts about the origin of this carol and my favorite one is the tying it to a religious context. That context reminds us that the season not only lasts twelve days, it also reminds us that we celebrate Christmas as a religious celebration not a consumer driven one.
The twelve days go something like this:
A partridge in a pear tree: Jesus Christ;
Two turtle doves: the Old and New Testaments;
Three French hens: Faith, hope, and charity-the theological virtues;
Four calling birds: the four gospels;
Five golden rings: the Pentateuch-the first five books of the Old Testament;
Six geese a’laying: the six days of creation;
Seven swans a’swimming: the seven sacraments;
Eight maids a’milking: the eight beatitudes;
Nine ladies dancing: the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit;
Ten lords a’leaping: the Ten Commandments;
Eleven pipers piping: the eleven faithful apostles;
and, Twelve drummers drumming: the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed.
Even if you don’t know or can’t remember the “hidden” meaning of each of the gifts, simply the idea that the song might have a religious focus is inspiring. We’ve taken so much of the reason for the season out of our actual celebration that the more we can reclaim as Christian’s, the better. Especially when places like PNC Bank tracks the yearly “Christmas price index” of the gifts. (And because I know you are now curious, the current price is a little over $41,000.)
Our consumer based society is one of Christianity’s greatest challenges. It is not only a distraction to a transformational life, it realigns our values from gratitude to entitlement. Whenever we’ve felt disappointed because of what we didn’t get on Christmas morning, we’ve experienced entitlement. A life grounded in gratitude causes us to simply appreciate that we are thought of enough to even be given a present. Most every parent has experienced this with a child but adults are not exempt from those feelings either.
Christmas lasts for 12 days-not that we continue to give presents throughout that time frame, but how much different might our lives be if we practiced gratitude and centered our life in Christ in intentional ways for the twelve days of the season. That might help us to know the real reason for the season.
Merry Christmas today, tomorrow, and the next day all the way until January 6! May your season be holy and bright.
Light and Life,