Most church leaders right now are engaging in brainstorming the best ways to celebrate Advent and Christmas as a congregation. And you are doing a fantastic job of being creative and innovative as you weave technology with tradition. In this spirit of creativity, I encourage you to take advantage of this sacred time and offer your congregation some resources for continuing their devotions and Christian practices at home. With Christmas travel being a low holiday priority this year, I propose that you try something new, which is actually very old — celebrating The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Even before the Christchild was born, Romans observed the birthday of the Unconquered Sun at the winter solstice. Between Saturnalia and Calends, there was lighting of candles and exchanging of gifts in the spirit of goodwill. Monks in the Middle Ages celebrated a different saint on each of the twelve days of Christmas. The Eastern Orthodox church celebrated each of the twelve days by lifting up a saint or a person or event from the story of the nativity.
This year more than any other, we in the church have the opportunity to counter the popular notion that these twelve days occur before and include Christmas Day. What if we provide resources that encourage the celebration of each of the twelve days, from December 25th through January 5th (and toss in Epiphany for good yuletide measure)?
Depending on the size, culture, and make up of your congregation, you could send instructions for a “Twelve Days of Christmas” calendar, in the style of an Advent calendar, for families of all kinds to create and enjoy together.
Come up with your own creative ideas or use the links suggested above. What practices from the early days of Christianity would be good to incorporate? What new practices could you include that incorporate racial justice, care for God’s creation, or radical hospitality, or…? And how can these practices be done safely yet meaningfully?
May you have a blessed Christmas this year, celebrating fully and faithfully.
Debbie Gline Allen serves as a Minister of Faith Formation on the Conference’s Faith Formation Ministry Team. She also serves as the administrator of the SNEUCC Faith Formation Leadership Program. Her passion for ministry is with children and family...