I received an email from our diocesan office in mid-December which ironically wished all of the clergy well in the “hustle and bustle and waiting” of Advent. The Advent themes of expectant waiting and contemplative preparation are diametrically opposed to the cultural expectations of our commercial Christmas season, which lasts from the day after Thanksgiving to Dec 24. I refer to Advent as the “spiritual antidote to the Christmas crazies,” but unfortunately, the demands of December are such that few of us outside of monasteries have space to engage Advent contemplation as deeply as we would wish.
Luckily, when the commercial Christmas season ends, real Christmas begins! Christmastide, or the Christmas season, lasts for 12 days from December 25 to January 5. It culminates in “12th Night” which is followed by the celebration of Epiphany, the adoration of the Magi or “we three kings” on January 6.
In pre-industrial, agrarian Europe the 12 days of Christmas were the only time of extended rest and leisure in the entire year for peasants who worked from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. For 12 days, in honor of the incarnation of God in Christ, they would feast, play games, rest, and make merry. Often the festivities were provided for by the local gentry and involved a reversal of roles, the low being put in high places, as Mary predicts in her Magnificat. These times were kind of a release valve for people who lived under very difficult circumstances.
Our times are very different, of course, but they are also pressured and difficult. Now that the obligations of the cultural holiday season are met, consider taking the 12 days of Christmas to rest in the incarnation. What does it mean to you, in your life, at this moment in the history of the world, on the eve of 2022, that God became a human being and dwelt among us? What difference does it make in your life that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it? Consider a simple spiritual practice for the 12 days of Christmas. Perhaps a gratitude reflection at the end of each day. Reading the prologue, the first chapter, of the gospel of John. Or signing up for our 12 days of Christmas carols and reflections daily emails!
However for this Christmas finds you, whether downcast or joy filled, whether at loose ends or reconnecting, I pray that the advent of our Savior may shine brightly for you this year. May you rest in the incarnation. No matter what, Emmanuel-God is with us.
In the deep peace of the Christ,
Ways to Rest in Christmas at Grace
12 Days of Christmas Carols | Last year we offered Christmas cheer in your inbox every day during Christmastide (Dec 25-Jan 6.). If you would like to sign-up to receive these special Christmas emails during the twelve days of Christmas you can do so HERE.
Carols at the Créche | Date: 12/24 Time: 5:00pm: Join Grace friends on the labyrinth for Christmas carols around our manger scene. Children are welcome to don costumes as we celebrate the birth of the Christ in song!
Christmas Eve Mass | Date: 12/24 Time: 8:00pm: Join in person or online for this traditional Christmas Eve service.
The First Sunday in Christmas| We hope that you will join us at one of our two services this Sunday as Rev. Wendy Watson leads us in worship. You can join us in person at our 8am or 10am (live streamed) services or via our weekly live stream on Facebook, Youtube, or our Website.