Twelve Days of Christmas – Devotional
Day 1 – Christmas Luke 2: 7
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Christ was born! Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus! Today is a day we celebrate and rejoice! Yet as we look at our pristine and pretty nativity scenes we must remember that Jesus’ real birth wasn’t so perfect. It certainly wasn’t the clean hospital sterile births of day. The fact that it wasn’t perfect needs to be celebrated and embraced. Christmas is often a hard day, as we reflect on what we miss or don’t have but Christ didn’t come in a perfect way or to a perfect place. Even in this passage, we are reminded that there was no place for him inside and so he was outside with the animals. Such an important part of our theology: God came not to save the righteous but the sinners. God did not send Jesus to walk among us as a perfect human in perfect circumstances but instead Jesus was surrounded by the imperfection of humanity. He came into this imperfect world to offer grace. Let us not worry if today is perfect; let us not fret about the Christmas of past that we miss or even those we no longer get to celebrate this day with. Let us not seek the “perfect Christmas morning” with presents, families and joy. Let us instead embrace our imperfect Christmas, full of longing or loneliness or stress; let us embrace the Holy Gift born out of great love to offer salvation to the imperfect. Rejoice that Jesus was born; Salvation to all who are imperfect!
Day 2 – Titus 3: 4-5
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Salvation is offered to us; not for the works we have done but from the love and mercy of God. Such powerful words for us and yet sometimes very daunting words. It is hard to imagine within humanity an example of someone who despite all the times we have done them wrong, still offers us salvation; yet we must remember that God is beyond humanity. Genesis only says we are made in “God’s image;” we are only a part of God’s grandeur creation and we must remember these things – God is bigger then us. Our God is a God of forgiveness and salvation. This doesn’t mean that in God’s name we don’t spread good into the world; this does mean though that we don’t have to be perfect. That our lives can be filled with every day humanness and even when we get too angry, too greedy or whatever too lead us to sin, Jesus still loves us – God loves us! God in mercy sent Jesus to save us. Today we rejoice that the baby in the manger was not just any baby but instead is God manifested for our Salvation!
Day 3 – Revelation 21: 3
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;
Christmas for many ends on Christmas day but traditional Christmas has been celebrated for 12 days beginning on Christmas and moving through Epiphany. Each day was a day of feast and celebration that Jesus was born and God out of love for humanity forged a new relationship with us, one that was built through Jesus’ own humanity. Thus, God is among us mortals! Jesus walked with us and now through the Holy Spirit, Jesus gift to us, God remains among us. During Christmas time we spend a lot of time talking about the “Christmas Spirit” and watching
movies about the magic of Christmas. This is a great reminder of the power of the Holy Spirit and yet we often let this spirit die the rest of the year. Our passage doesn’t just say that God walks among mortals sometimes but instead it states that “the home of God is among mortals” – the HOME. Through our acceptance of the Holy Spirit in us we also become the “home” of God. As you continue this journey to epiphany think up ways that you can keep God’s spirit in the spotlight.
Day 4 – John 1: 14
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
Jesus lived among us and his glory was not only witnessed but participated in, from Mary and Joseph, to shepherds, to Herod, to wise travelers, to disciples, to soldiers, to religious leaders and Roman officials; but it doesn’t end there. Jesus story doesn’t end with his death on the cross, his walk as flesh might, but his glory – grace and truth – remain and continue to be a witnessed and participated in. We celebrate Christmas each year and are reminded of the birth of the infant Jesus and all the wonder and awe that comes with it. We are reminded of the glory of God that so loved the world. As seasons change and we get older, God’s glory becomes more important. God’s grace that fill us with strength to get out of bed and courage to move through frustration leads us to the truth that the Kingdom awaits us. Some days the wait seems like too long and some days you might wish lasted longer but God’s glory full of grace and truth is also full of God’s timing. The Word did not become flesh at creation but instead at the right time. A time that to many seems arbitrary and yet to God was perfect. The glory of God was not known at the beginning but instead was offered to the world, as an infant, in God’s time. Let the glory of God’s grace and truth fill us today with whatever it is we need to keep living into the amazing grace of God.
Day 5 – Ecclesiastes 3: 1
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A powerful reminder to us that God is in control. Everything has a season the passage continues with a litany of times: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to dance, ect… This reminds us, beautifully, of not only the rhythm of life but also points out that we are not the ones in control. Yet as the seasons change and our bodies age, control is what we fight for. We fight to control our bodies, as they decline; we fight help, as we strive to prove something; we fight God as we don’t want to give up control of everything. Yet allowing yourself to live fully into this season of your life is not the same as giving up. Accepting some help is not giving up. Allowing God’s grace to work through other people to uplift and support your life, is not giving up it is living into this season. This is the season in which we rejoice in the birth of Christ. A baby born under imperfect circumstances into an imperfect world and yet was born in God’s perfect time. Jesus’ beginning is a glimpse of what his ministry will be like and what his glory will come to mean. So today, let God be in control, if that means during this season you accept more help – remember the seasons past of which you offered help. Let this be a season that instead of mourning you allow yourself to dance in joy of the blessings around you. Embrace this season and live it to its fullness knowing and being assured that this season will past and you will one-day dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Day 6 – Psalm 89: 2
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
These words hear are speaking not about us but about God. The psalmist is saying that God’s steadfast love is established forever and God’s faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. This are reassuring words for sure. That word ‘forever’ in Hebrew really gives us this sense of continuing indefinitely. That this everlasting love knows no stops. Let’s let that sink in, deep into our souls, God’s everlasting, forever, love knows no stops; God’s love is continual. What a blessing! What a thought! As we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate God’s love manifested in Christ. Jesus could have come in any way, God humbly walking among us could have just appeared one day; yet, instead God with us was humbly born as an infant. Not just any infant, but an infant son of an unwed woman and a carpenter who were willing to trust God. God’s steadfast love deserves from us this type of response; a response of faithfulness. A response of “here I am Lord.” Think this day about what this infant baby means for you and your journey with God. God’s love has been delivered to the world and it is now our turn to respond. Why does it matter that Jesus is born?
Day 7 -Luke 2: 14
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
This is what the angles proclaim to the shepherds. What an interesting way to proclaim the birth of the World’s savior; not to those studying God, not to those who are looking for a savior, but those tending sheep in the middle of the night. The awe of the angles over took these shepherds and when they left they began searching for this infant savior. I wonder if they were surprised to see the lowly Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How powerful it must have been for them to see that God came not as a rich person who has everything but as one of them. Glory to God in the highest of heaven, surely must have been their song to know that God not only so loved each of them but that God with us was going to experience their life, a hard life. In our moments of the everyday mundane we must be willing to keep our eyes open and our hearts ready for God’s glory to be revealed. The night for the shepherds began like any other and yet ended like no other.
Day 8 – Isaiah 62: 12
They shall be called, "The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord"; and you shall be called, "Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken."
God has not forgotten nor forsaken us. God has not forgotten nor forsaken you. This is a message we need to hear today; as our world becomes wider, our churches become smaller we need this message. As the angles appeared to shepherds to proclaim the good news not to the rich but to God’s people whom felt most disenfranchised; so too do we need to hear the words of Isaiah. God is still with us, Christ Emmanuel is still among us; we must just listen. We need to open ourselves, not to the emptiness that this Christmas season often leaves us with, but to the fullness of the Spirit of God’s Holy Presence in our lives. Christmas can be a season of loneliness, a time for us to reflect and realize all that we have lost as we age. It can be a time of isolation as we struggle for independence or let physical limitations get in the way of full celebration. It can be a time in which we feel forgotten and forsaken to suffer and yet
God called us “Holy People.” Through Christ’s birth we have been offered more then salvation and grace we have been offered a relationship; a relationship that names us Holy, a relationship in which we know that we are not forgotten but that we are invited to live in the Kingdom of God.
Day 9 – Psalm 72: 12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
Actual scientific studies have proven that pray works. Those who pray or allow God in their lives not only survive at higher rates illness but they recover faster and have less pain. Wow! The power of God always leaves me in awe. We are reminded that when we allow God in, our lives are changed. Jesus came into the world, but we must welcome Christ into our lives. We journey from Christmas to Epiphany, the time the magi traveled to find Christ and welcome him. They put their trust in the light of the star and found a child that would offer salvation to all. A child who would one day be a King to the sufferings. Let God in and allow yourself to be delivered.
Day 10 – Isaiah 60: 1-2
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the Earth and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will appear over you.
The light of a star may have brought the magi to the house of Mary and Joseph but Jesus brought the light into the world. Jesus opened blind eyes and allowed all those living in darkness to see that light could come in. Jesus is the light of the world and our life. But his light is more then just knowledge but it is also God’s glory! Think about how bright God’s light shines in your life. Do you let it shine or hide it away? Are you a person of think darkness or of great glory? No matter where we are in our faith journey there is room for us to allow God’s light to shine in our lives and act as agents of glory.
Day 11 – Psalm 97: 11
Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Let us rejoice now in the light that brings glory to our days and joy to our hearts especially this Christmas season. Many of our songs are about the “joy” of Christmas; yet for many our Christmases are stressful or full of longing that we don’t let joy in to fill our hearts. But this is a season of joy. A season of remembering not only the birth of Christ but the promise in the kingdom of heaven. For that is where our joy is found. Light dawns on the righteous and joy fills the right in heat. Both of these words here (right and righteous) aren’t speaking of the sinless but instead the right with God; those who have a relationship with God. That’s means all of us, not just the perfect can have the joy of God. Jesus didn’t come to save the perfect but to offer salvation to the world; a world of sinners. Today let the joy of knowing that God’s grace extends to us all and God’s salvation and forgiveness will bring joy to our hearts.
Day 12 – Matthew 2: 10-11
When they saw the star had stopped they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his other, and they knelt down and paid homage. Then opening their treasure chests they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
One big point of Epiphany, it wasn’t at Jesus’ birth. The magi arrived when Jesus was a toddler. They followed the star tat appeared at Jesus’ birth for several years; trusting in all they had learned and been taught before arriving at the house of Jesus. This journey was long and hard. This journey took many different turns and at the end this journey left them returning by even a longer journey; yet they believed and trusted. Not only did they trust but the magi are people from the East, they aren’t Hebrews, yet they trusted. They trusted, believed, followed and found! We take many different paths in our life. We travel lots of ways and in the end usually don’t end up where we thought we would. Yet, we trust in that this journey is rewarded in the Kingdom. Remember that this Epiphany, this last Sunday in the Christmas Season that it isn’t as important how long you took in your journey or even who you were as long as in your life you trusted, glorified God and welcomed Christ into your life. Trust today that no matter what is to come as your journey on Earth ends, that for those who welcomed the Christ child your journey continues into the Kingdom of Heaven.