The Twelve Days of Christmas - At Home This Year

The Twelve Days of Christmas - At Home This Year

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
As we anticipate Christmas 2020, knowing that it will be different from any Christmas we’ve celebrated before, let us embrace this fact by trying out some new practices. Perhaps the biggest Christmas gift was can give ourselves will be the gift of experimentation, with the option for being allowed to fail at designing “the perfect Christmas.” (Do not be afraid!) This gift of forgiveness can provide the space and the grace for us to to look at our long-standing traditions and determine whether they continue because “we’ve always done them,” or whether they offer new meaning-filled possibilities as we adapt to a new model for celebrating these holy-day(s).

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. Or you could e-mail a list of twelve web links for people to click on to learn more about specific Christmas topics on their own. Or you could focus on mission and service, suggesting twelve causes (with information and web links for each) to pray for and/or send a donation. If you have a small enough congregation and a big enough budget you could mail a small “gift” box that includes an activity each day (like this one from Silver Lake Conference Center, our SNEUCC outdoor ministries site). Or it could be as simple as sending twelve questions, one to ponder each day related to the season and its scriptures.

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.

Author

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Debbie Gline Allen

Debbie Gline Allen is the part-time Associate for Faith Formation & Youth Ministries for the Conference.

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