Lifting hearts to God in thanks and praise.

Posts tagged ‘christmas’

Why we Celebrate 12 Days of Christmas

Why do we celebrate for twelve days? It’s not to get more gifts! Although it does give us a chance to shop the after Christmas sales and turn them into gifts under the tree as well, or gifts for friends and family with whom we are meeting up after Christmas day.

The game changer (an idiom I learned from my writing students) came when I had a baby, 14 or so years ago. Ten months (11 years) of waiting, and then the baby came! I was astonished to receive for her one present a day for a month. Some came with friends bringing dinner, other days with the mailman. Literally, one a day for a month. How could that not have been God orchestrating? The celebrating wasn’t over in a day. Why then should I celebrate the birth of Jesus for only one day? Prepare for 24 days and then celebrate for only one?
Sit with it. Or maybe I should say, roll with it (another idiom). That first month the baby and I sat on the old blue couch, nursing, sleeping on Mommy, bonding. The time of intense inactivity grew my heart for the child. The time of keeping Christmas after the 25th also grows my heart. The presents I give, the meetings with friends, the joy shared because of the love of God all somehow grow stronger as the shopping world moves on but the grace of time extends. (This year it was a much needed grace, for our college semester didn’t end until Monday 12/29 when the grades were due at noon.)

Embrace the future in light of Christmas. Is it an accident that New Years Day comes in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas, still rising to Twelfth Night and Epiphany? I held my baby and we thought of how our life would change: of the things we would want to do together, show her, take her to see things and meet people. New Year resolutions, or better yet, One Word seeking (where you pray for God to give you one word to focus on for the coming year, like Yes, or Grace, or Love) should be done with the Baby and all His life before you in mind. Hold him, hold on to him, and ponder.

This year what struck me in the Christmas story as we played it out in our tiny congregation Christmas Eve and then at the Rescue Mission on Chrismas night and then as I watched The Nativity movie with Ravinia on Christmas day 2, was how God directed each person to do their part. They didn’t know the whole story, but when they met each other, they recognized something. Elizabeth somehow knew from Mary’s greeting, and told her what she knew. Joseph trusted an angel in a dream, two or three times! Shepherds recognized the child, and told the parents what angels had said. Simeon, and Anna, in the temple, rejoiced and spoke. Magi read God’s stars and came to acknowledge him. All of them were trusting God, not men. All were able to say, this is what I know from God.

But Herod, with evil intent, found out from scripture the name of Bethlehem. Herod didn’t trust God, so he acted terribly, ordering the death of many so as to appease his sinful fear. But God still directed those who listened to him. The magi returned home a different way (they dreamed of angels and believed them too!), Joseph woke in the night and took Mary and her son away. Were there others in Bethlehem who dreamed of angels also that night? Were there some who heard the passing angel and also took warning? Or did they all awake to forget their dreams, live their usual morning until they heard the soldiers come?
My child is now 14. Jesus is at the Father’s right hand, waiting to be sent again to earth in glory. But still I hold the child in my heart and still I hope for grace. Still I lean in to a new year in the midst of these twelve days of rejoicing and I pray for growth in me, for guidance from God, for his will to be done in our lives for our joy and his glory.

All thanks and praise to God!

Happy New Year

Welcome, come on in.
The candles are all lit, the family still sleeps and I am here pausing at the beginning of the day. Soon they will wake but I have some time to talk, to show you around.
Would you like to sit here with me a moment?
See the wreath, the angels?
See the nativity? (The kings are still on their way.)
Ravinia asked me, was it Christmas Eve the shepherds came?
No, I responded, it would have been Christmas night.
Funny, that we anticipate so, we don’t celebrate things on the days.
Here’s the shepherds.
See the sheep?
Come King’s Day, we will have neighborhood kids come for our annual Epiphany play, and since it’s a Sunday that means incorporating it into our evening worship where we sing the magnificat anyway!
This nativity, it was the one I grew up with,
Wanted my mom to give me, but I had to wait and inherit it.
The playmobile nativity was Ravinia’s set while I waited.
We’d read a story about a German servant and how her son came in to the family’s Christmas tree and searched for Jesus among the presents. Finding Jesus.
So we put the Playmobile set under the tree until this year when puppy endangers anything remotely like a bone!
Our first set, for the baby Ravinia was these beautiful finger puppets I’d gotten at Ten Thousand Villages (I used to volunteer there while she napped in her stroller).
We are rich in nativity sets.
What about you, do you have one you cherish?

Rich, we are indeed.
But God, who is rich in mercy…
What are we rich in?

There was a time, before the baby came, we had moved across the country and had no cash, had maxed out our credit cards, and yet food had been provided and we lived on grace until the first paycheck came. We were too embarrassed to admit our full situation to our parents who would surely have sent us money! But from then on, and throughout grad school when we did receive money from relatives (one Christmas with our little child, we were given generous gifts that otherwise we would not have been able to celebrate Christmas) I began to consider the phrase dependently wealthy.

On our own we carried debt.
From our relatives we received money, gifts in abundance.
We lacked nothing.
When a friend asked me how we do it, I told her how we were dependently wealthy.
I think all believers should live that way.
Dependently upon God who is rich –
Dependent upon God who provides –
Thankful for his many blessings –
Praising him for daily lovingkindness –

It is a new year, and a new day.
Are you making resolutions?
I love the reminder in Carolyn Arend’s song that each new day can be a new year’s day to start all over, and it’s a reminder for me that I need to pray each day for God’s direction, grace, and love to fill me.

I am seeing a few new things, and have received tools as from God for the work he wants me to do this year! I am so excited about that. Can I tell you a bit?

Arabah Joy posted a new book, a series for free on her website, about renewing our minds. I am wondering if you’d like to click here and check it out? If you enjoy it, just sign up to receive all the posts daily in your inbox and read along with me!

Holley Gerth also has a 21 day series starting today on what she calls God Sized Dreams: dreams so big that you can only hope to accomplish them if God is for you, if God provides, if God has called you to this task, indeed, if it’s Ephesians 2:10 sort of work that God has prepared beforehand that you walk in.

Okay, so my new projects?

On Mondays I will have time to write, because there are a few projects Mary is waiting for me to write, and Ant said I am a pretty good writer and must just write from my heart.

On Tuesdays I will post Tuesdays in Titus, studying my way through it to memorize it along with Ravinia who has a huge head start on me, having exercised to a recording of it all fall.

On Sundays our family along with another will be starting a new church! We are starting this week with the Epiphany Project which will meet on Westmont campus (10a Sundays) for a time of education and worship together, calling students and community to explore a higher liturgy and stronger faith. There are students who for whatever reason do not attend church. Please pray for us, and them, that God will work in all our lives.

I would so love to hear your side of our conversation in commemts or by email. Are you still celebrating Christmas until Epiphany/Kings Day, or have you switched to New Years, having celebrated all December?
Are you excited about 2013?
(I’m having to work at writing that!)
Let’s thank and praise God together, amen!