Today is the final day of this year’s Christmas season, or, if you will, festival.
When Jesus was 12 days old we might consider that Mary was now strong enough to travel, the government registration was complete and that the family soon began the journey home.
Traditions push the timetable up and we might think that the Magi (who are likely still on the way to find the new born king) and the dedication have occurred. But a careful reading of Leviticus is clear that Mary had to wait several weeks to come into the sanctuary. (Leviticus 12 indicates circumcision on the 8th day (last Saturday) and then 33 more days before the offering.)
So, by now the family is on their way or, maybe, already home in Nazareth. It was a four day journey so if they left after the circumcision, they would just about be home.
Since about the 6th century, the traditional celebration of 12th day of Christmas was the final day and night for celebrating Christmas before the end of the holiday season. (Shakespeare even wrote a play called 12th Night.)
According to some traditions, one should remove Christmas decorations on the 12th day of Christmas. This guy goes out today (the presents are long gone).
All along this journey through Advent and Christmas we’ve been reminded to think about the wonderful work of Christ because of God’s faithful love for us. Today let’s remember that Jesus commanded us to give. Love.
Give love, as he did, to neighbors, enemies, and one another. He said that people will know we are his disciples by our love.
But let’s be real, love is often hard. Our pride can (and does) get in the way of love. Jesus didn’t have that problem, the perfect union of man and God – the Incarnation that we are celebrating – meant that though he was tempted just as we are (Hebrews 4) he overcame temptation for us. This kept him the perfect sacrifice for our sins, which result from our giving in to temptation. He died the perfect death and rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father because the Incarnation began that aspect of the salvation work of Jesus. Then He sent the Spirit to indwell us and help us follow him.
So, …peace be unto those upon whom his favor rests… remember, believer, disciple of Jesus, YOU ARE FAVORED!
Just in case you have five more minutes and want to hear the story one more time, here you go…
We have not been left alone.
We have so much to celebrate on this 12th day of Christmas!