by Pastor David Tinker
Martin Luther Lutheran Church
The 12 Days of Christmas are the days of the Christmas Season. These are the days between the Nativity of our Lord (December 25) and the Epiphany of our Lord (January 6).
There are 2 traditions of counting these 12 Days of Christmas.
One tradition is that the 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day, and conclude on “Twelfth Night”, which is January 5.
The second tradition is that the 12 Days of Christmas begin on December 26, and run through January 6. “Twelfth Night” would then be January 6.
Despite the promotions and activity of our culture, the Christian “Christmas Season” begins on Christmas Day, rather than during the time leading up to Christmas.
Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas
Here are some ways to mark the 12 Days of Christmas in your home and daily life.
— Daily read something in the Bible about the birth and youth of Jesus. Look especially in Matthew chapters 1-2, and Luke chapter 2.
— For fun with your family sing the popular song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” — “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..” Maybe do only the total number of days which have passed. Only on January 5 or 6, depending on how you count these days, would you sing all twelve verses. Another option would be to play a recording of someone singing this popular song.
— Tell others about the 12 Days of Christmas, such as in conversation, letters, e-mail, or on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
— Use 12 candles to count off the days during a meal or at devotions. One more candle is lit each day until all are lit on January 5th or 6th.
— Keep your Christmas tree up until at least January 6.
— Send your Christmas cards during this time, and possibly note the 12 Days of Christmas in your letter to family and friends.
— Attend worship at Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Carmine on the two weekends which always occur in the 12 Days of Christmas. Some folks pull back from worship during this time and miss out on a joyful time of the year at church.
— Schedule Christmas Parties during this time. You will be less stressed and it will give your friends another chance to get together for joyful fellowship.
Special Days during the 12 Days of Christmas
December 26 – The Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr. Read about his ministry in Acts chapters 6 and 7
December 27 – The Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. Read one of the books connected to his ministry, such as the Gospel of John, the three letters of John, and Revelation.
December 28 – Remembrance of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, Martyrs. Read about these victims of tyranny in Matthew chapter 2, especially verses 16-18.
December 31 – New Year’s Eve – a chance to reflect on God’s grace for you during this past year.
January 1 – The Name of Jesus. On this day we remember Jesus’ 8th day. Read about this in Luke 2:21. This is when his name was announced publically.
The Epiphany of our Lord – January 6
‘The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.’
— Isaiah 9:2
The Epiphany of our Lord is mostly known as the celebration of the arrival of the Magi for their visit to bring their gifts of Jesus. It is much more. When we celebrate the Epiphany we are celebrating the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Epiphany reminds us about the growing glory of God in the Son of God/Son of Man, Jesus Christ.
Epiphany is the manifestation or showing of Jesus to the world. The Magi were non-Jewish foreigners who came to worship Jesus, and are thus representatives of who would eventually benefit from the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. This visit, from Matthew chapter 2, foreshadows the mission which Jesus grants to his followers. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20, our Lord commands us to make disciples of all nations, not just of the Jews.
Celebrating the Epiphany of our Lord
— Attend worship on Sunday, January 5, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. as we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord at Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Carmine.
— Read the story of the Magi in Matthew chapter 2
— Pray for Christian missionaries as they spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
— Pray for the Church around the world.
— Host an Epiphany Party.
— Give generously to people in need. Remember, as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
— Sing “We Three Kings” and/or “The First Noel”
— Attend worship on all or most every weekend in the season after the Epiphany.
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
The gifts of the Magi to Jesus point us to who Jesus really is. The Magi offer gold, a possession of kings; frankincense, used in ritual and prayer to indicate the presence of God; and myrrh, an oil used at the time of death as well as for anointing priests. By their gifts, the wise men reveal the identity of this child: the king before whom nations will bow down, the anointed high priest of God, and the suffering servant who will die for the ones he has come to serve.