Today is the first day of Christmas, the day my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. It is the first of twelve days that ends on January 6, Epiphany. This is the traditional day set aside as the day the Wise Men arrived to visit the baby Jesus. According to the 2020 Christmas price index if you were to purchase and give the twelve days of Christmas this year it will cost you $16,168.14. This is a decrease from last year's high of $38,993.59. Other sources put the figure much higher, some as much as $107,000.00! For Christians these twelve days are the period between Christmas and epiphany.
The song, the twelve days of Christmas has a bit of a murky origin. Some believe it was originally part of a memory and forfeits game. It was a test to see how much you could remember and if you made a mistake then you had to award your fellow players a ’forfeit' such as a kiss or some sort of favor like a piece of candy. Some believe the five gold rings were not actually jewelry but the markings of a ring neck pheasant. Either way, this song involves A LOT of birds. Many look at this song as way to teach the tenants of Christianity while the church was under persecution.
This is the day after Christmas, Boxing Day in Great Britain. It was originally a day for the rich to box up gifts for the poor. It is a day when the servants traditionally had the day off and the day, they received a special Christmas box from their masters. Today it is a bank holiday and mostly a shopping day. It is also the first day of Kwanza. The name Kwanza comes from a Swahili phrase that means first fruits. It is in fact a harvest festival of sorts. The holiday is marked by the lighting of seven candles in a candelabra. Each candle stands for a specific principle: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Celebrations often include songs, dances, storytelling, and food. This is a cultural holiday, not a religious observance, honoring both bountiful harvest...hence the first fruits...and the value of community.
This is a day of eating leftovers and picking up the remains of yesterday's festivities. Perhaps some will begin taking down decorations. No doubt Mary and Joseph spent the day after Jesus birth figuring out how to care for this child God had given them. They were first time parents. That is harrowing enough but to be first time parents to the Son of God had to be quite daunting. We know they were people of faith. On the eight day they took him to the temple to be named, circumcised and presented to the Lord. Traditionally the firstborn son was named after his father, but the angel had told both Mary and Joseph this child would be named Jesus.
Jesus was an ordinary baby but so many things were different. His conception, His name, His birth in a stable away from home and family, the shepherds visit. Scripture tells us Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Those same things must have left Joseph scratching his head. We saw Mary after the angel visited her, singing praises to God. She didn't hesitate when the angel spoke. Instead, she accepted what God had for her. Joseph on the other hand, wanted to turn and run, leaving Mary behind. Sometimes when God calls us to tasks that seem impossible, running is our first response. But Joseph learned, just as the disciples learned, that when God calls, He has a plan and a purpose. We may not always be privy to all the details. But our first task when He calls is not to ask why, or where, or when or how or who. Our first task is to trust in what God is calling us to do. He already knows all the details! This is what living in God's will vs. ours looks like.
That means setting our plans and dreams aside, painful as that might be, and allowing God to guide our lives. We see this all through scripture. It was not easy then and it is not easy now. But God has a plan and I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that life goes much smoother when I get out of Gods way and let Him take the lead. Joseph learned that lesson, as did the prophets and apostles and thousands of others who believe.
It is the day after Christmas. The journey is just beginning.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W