Most of us have only eight shopping days left until Christmas. Those who are a part of the Orthodox Church have 20 days left as they celebrate the holiday on the Night of the Epiphany, which is Jan. 6. That’s the day traditionally used to recall the arrival of the Magi at the manger to honor the birth of the baby Jesus.
The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were important gifts along with being of great value. Gold’s value is obvious and would have proven to be helpful to the family as Jesus grew up into a boy and then a man. Frankincense was important for religious ceremonies and Sabbaths and myrrh was a balm that would be needed for medicinal purposes or for skin care and protection given the weather in the Middle East.
As we start the countdown toward Christmas, I wanted to share a reminder that the Twelve Days of Christmas are not the 12 days before the holiday but the 12 days of the Christian Christmas Season that begins at sundown on Christmas Eve and ends at sundown Jan. 5.
On Jan. 6, Christians throughout the world begin to celebrate the season of Epiphany. Currently Christians are celebrating the season of Advent which is a time of expectant waiting for an arrival. In this case; it is the birth of the Christ child.
As Christmas gets closer each hour and the visions of sugar plums dancing in heads takes hold in our homes, we need to take time to remember what the season is all about. At the top on the Christmas tree in our home are four rather important ornaments. There are three small golden glass ball ornaments that represent the small bags of gold that Saint Nicklaus left on the window sashes or doorways to help some of the needy poor in his area during the Fourth Century.
His Saint Day is around Dec. 6, and people began the custom of gift giving to others in his honor at the time of the year end celebration known then as Saturnalia. Saint Nicklaus was tagged with the concept and later got the credit for the gifts because they were done anonymously. The name Santa Claus comes from the mispronunciation by children of Saint Nicklaus. Just as a child has problems saying the word spaghetti, Saint Nicklaus became Santa Claus or just Saint Nick.
The other ornament hanging from the top three boughs is a small egg shaped ornament that resembles an Easter egg. There is the story right there. Christmas isn’t the most important day of the Christian Calendar; Easter is most important. It is simple; without Easter there would be no reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus and had Jesus not been born there could never have been an Easter. The manger was full but the Tomb was empty and that is the best Christmas gift of all. God sent his Son to redeem our sins.
During the next few weeks, let’s be sure to extend our love to one another through kind words, acts of kindness, charity, and gestures.
A few days after the events in San Bernardino unfolded, a New York paper headline stated that God can’t fix the problems. The story seemed to add more fuel to the secularism of the day that mocks traditional Christian values and actions. The politicians and thinkers that call for more government discount the actions of those who offer prayers. What is ignored is that the prayers are just a part of the healing. Prayers for mercy and understanding and strength start the process and then those who have offered the prayers begin by donating time, talent and treasure to the cause.
The words taught by Jesus to love one another, to feed those who hunger, to clothe those who are cold, to care for the sick and dying were not just words. He performed those acts as well as His followers.
While we celebrate the upcoming Christmas season, let’s combine it with the celebrations of the spirit of giving. Remember the adage, “That which ye do for the least of my Brethren, ye do it unto me.”
That New York paper was clearly wrong. God will fix it. He will use those who prayerfully follow Him to do the leg work.
God will send us what we need. He sent His Son.