The reason the liturgical Christmas season lasts from December 25 to January 6 is because of feast days (a tradition I’m totally for bringing back or reincorporating; I like feasts) in the Orthodox church. The Great Feast of the Theophany, celebrated January 6 and commemorating the baptism of Jesus, is considered more important than the Nativity (December 25), but to tie the two together, the church declared the twelve days of Christmas to be fast-free days of celebration, which is pretty awesome. We don’t follow that too well in our progressive Protestant community, of course, but that is why there are twelve days according to the church calendar, why the baptism of Jesus shows up on the Lectionary in early January, and why no one ever really knows what to do with the magi.
So we have twelve days of Christmas in the church after the world of retail and radio wrap up their Christmas fiascos. No more “Chestnuts” on the radio, no more long lines at stores, and suddenly, this great peace may descend upon us where after the material goods are dispersed, after all the hustle and bustle, we can relax and celebrate the fact that God loves us and is with us. That nothing we can do, have done, or will do will change that. And that though God is crazy (coming to be among us, really? Shepherds, really? Conquered Judea, really?), we are called to be crazy too in our self-giving, our sharing, our relationships, our loving, our kindness.
Aw, heck, let’s say Merry Christmas all year. Or, even better, let’s do Christmas all year. I’m completely serious. Let’s live every day like it’s Christmas Day. Let’s inconvenience ourselves the way God did in Christ on Christmas. What do you say?
Well, think about it, at least. I know I will be, too, as I start doing work for my sermon Sunday. The Magi finally found their way to the crèche — time to figure out why they’re there and why they were so late! I hope to see you Sunday, and Merry Christmas!