Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Twelth Day of Christmas

Today is the twelth day of Christmas, the last in the string of days celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Christ. I leave my tree and lights and decorations up through tomorrow, the Feast of the Epiphany. I need the reminder of the promise that the light that comes from the entry of God into our world continues to shine in the darkness, and the darkness did not and will not extinguish that light. So for a few more nights my Swedish star will shine in my house window, and we will turn on the lights on the tree. My nativity set stays up in my church office, with the large candle beside it that I light whenever I pray one of the prayer offices.

The office prayer for this morning is one I am not familiar with, but one I continue to go back to, the words are so striking.

Dost thou in a manger lie, who has all created,
stretching infant hands on high, Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where thy state? Where thy court on thee to wait?
Scepter, crown, and sphere?
Here no regal pomp we see, nought but need and penury:
why thus cradled here?

"For the world a love supreme brought me to this stable;
All creation to redeem I alone am able
by this lowly birth of mine, Sinner, riches shall be thine,
matchless gifts and free;
Willingly this yoke I take, and this sacrifice I make,
heaping joys for thee."

Such incredible boldness we Christians have, claiming that the great and powerful LORD God of all time and space would care for us, a fallen humanity on one small planet spinning in this one small solar system in the immensity of the universe. It is truly a wonder that we and our claims haven't been laughed off of the planet long before now. But as I ponder on the words of tomorrow's Gospel from Matthew, on the actions of the Magi who come and prostrate themselves in worship before the ChristChild, I know that the only response I can make is to do likewise. I am called to worship, rather than to fully understand.

In the midst of many questions, and many problems that divide us in both Church and World, at the beginning of yet another year full of promise and fear, I wish all of you a most blessed Twelth Day of Christmas, and a joyous New Year. May the star of Bethlehem shine brightly for you on your paths, and lead you safely to the throne of the King, who comes with healing in His wings.

Christ we praise with voices bold, laud and honor raising;
for these mercies manifold join the hosts in praising:
Father, glory be to thee for the wondrous charity
of thy Son our Lord.
Better witness to thy worth, purer praise than ours on earth,
angel songs afford.

(Text Jean Mauburgn, 1460-1503;tr. Elizabeth rundle Charles, 1828-1896. and others)