The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas isn’t over!

In many church traditions, the Twelve D(pencil)Mary_and_Childays of Christmas is more than a song. The Twelve Days is a festive Christian season to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, beginning December 25 or 26, and ending January 5 or 6.

(This drawing of mine is based on a sculpture in an art museum in Vienna; you may purchase Christmas cards with this design at: http://www.BarbBjelland.etsy.com)

As I heard a pastor say on Christmas Eve, Christmas is more that the birth of the Christ-child long ago. This Christ is also with us now, and he goes with us outside of the church walls and into the world. In fact, Christ wasn’t born in a church but in a barn, because there was no room for him in the Inn.

How can Christmas be described in three words?

Isaiah 9:6 tells us, his name is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

In the words of John 1:14,

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (Message Version)

God “moved in” to the world to be with us, and he remains with us through thick and thin. When we suffer, God suffers with us–“In all their affliction, he was afflicted.” (Isaiah 63:9, Revised Standard Version)

The celebration of the Nativity of Christ includes the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the arrival of the Magi. These events are described in a beautiful hymn by Christina Rossetti, entitled “In the Bleak Midwinter:”

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign: (This line may be based on 2 Peter 3:10-11; note that many other passages, such as Rev. 21:1-4 imply the restoration rather than the destruction of the earth. Revelation 21:3 states that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people”–the culmination of the Emmanuel theme.)

In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air –
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him, Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

cropped_shepherd I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.

My drawing of the shepherd above, is based on a shepherd in a painting by Guido Reni  (1575- 1642), entitled, “The Adoration of the Shepherds.” The link to this awesome painting is: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/guido-reni-the-adoration-of-the-shepherds

I love this song, and its simple statement that we return all that we are and have to God in praise. God loves us and values us just as we are, rich or poor, wise or unwise. We are fulfilled in bringing ourselves as gifts to God, and in doing so, we join the great throng of shepherds, wise men, and the community of all Creatures that praise their Creator.

If anyone out there would like a Nativity picture to color, here is a picture from the interior of my book, “Supper with the Savior: Communion in the Bible and Today.”

(Please use this picture for one-time use only and ask for permission to reproduce.)

Supper_nativity_pic

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