Merry Christmas! I hope that you’ve all been enjoying a blessed and meaningful holiday and that your wish list, whatever that looked like for you, has been filled. A reminder, though—Christmas isn’t over! While the secular world has already begun to move on, decorations are being taken down, and some people have already put their trees out on the curb, the church is still in the midst of celebrating the birth of Jesus. Today is the third day of Christmas, which is celebrated in the Christian calendar for twelve days, culminating with Epiphany on January 6, which remembers the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child.
The beloved song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” (best sung by John Denver and the Muppets, of course) tells us that today, the singer’s true love gave them “three French hens.” According to some, the three hens represent the virtues of faith, hope, and love, as described in I Corinthians 13: “and now faith, hope, and love remain, these three, and the greatest of these is love.” Ultimately, as Pastor Dan reminded us on Christmas Eve, love is what it’s all about—and the coming of the helpless baby into a world of turmoil and war is what love looks like.
This Christmas, what does love look like for you? Where are you seeing faith, hope, and love lived out and made flesh in the world? One place I saw it made flesh this year was in our Longest Night service, the annual gathering that we and many other congregations host every year as a way to acknowledge and make space for the grief and uncertainty that many of us experience this time of year. Whether we’ve lost loved ones, are facing an uncertain future, or simply feel overwhelmed with the busyness and the mirth surrounding us, this service is always one of my favorite moments to slow down and allow the gentle spirit of God to remind me that I am beloved.
At the conclusion of that service, the pastors all gather at the back of the sanctuary and offer prayer and anointing for anyone that would like more personal prayer and blessing time. I am always moved each year by what folks are willing to share and entrust me with, knowing what a privilege it is to be invited into such personal moments. As I listen, offer prayer, anoint my fellow beloved child of God, and look around at the same thing happening with Pastor Dan and Pastor Brooke, I see what love looks like. I see the gift of community being Christ to one another. And I am grateful.
On this third day of Christmas, and for the rest of this holy season, may you be blessed with the gifts of faith, hope, and love, and catch a glimpse of love being made flesh in our world.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.