Still celebrating Christmas

Father Lawrence Heiney

I am still celebrating Christmas. Christmas only began for me on Dec. 24 Before that was the holiday shopping season.

I have spoken earlier that Christmas appeared around 325 AD when our Christian ancestors were grappling with how Jesus is God. The bishops gathered, including St. Nicholas, in prayer and meditation on the Prologue to John’s Gospel. They wrote the Nicene Creed which professed that Jesus is true God from true God. (In a later council it was also affirmed that Jesus is human as each of us are but He did not sin.) At that time Christians in Rome started a celebration to celebrate Christ. They read the Prologue and celebrated the Light and Life of the Word made flesh.

In Greece, a few years earlier the Christians had selected Jan. 6 to celebrate the coming of the Gospel to Europe. They acknowledged that Jesus and his Gospel was for the whole world. They read the Gospel of the three magi, who were Gentiles, following the Star.

There was cross pollination. The two feasts grew together – it became a celebration that lasted 12 days (or more exactly 12 nights between the feasts.) Both feasts were celebrated as if they were on Sunday regardless of which day of the week they fell on. The twelve days of Christmas are after the Nativity and complete the Christmas mystery in the Great Light shining throughout the world.

As the twelve days developed, 1 John came to be read through the season. The letter picks up on the themes that are presented in the Prologue. I see the Epistle as an instruction manual. When all else fails read the instructions! We profess the divinity of Jesus. What are the implications, how shall we live? Jesus is the Word, is the Light and Life. God is Love. Living in the light, we love as we abide in love, we abide in God. My reflection will be on I Jn 4,7-21 NSRV.

John reflects on the nature of God and thus on the nature if the Christian life.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God…

Whoever does not love does not know God,

for God is love…

God sent His only Son…

…not that we have loved God but that He has loved us…

God lives in us and His is perfected in us.

We abide in Him and He in us.

God abides in those that confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

God is love, and those that abide in love

abide in God, and God abides in them.

There is no fear in love.

The commandment…those who love God must love

their brothers and sisters also.

This evening, we will be half way to the Epiphany – there will be six geese a laying. We will have six days more to celebrate with Lords and Ladies a leapin’ for joy; with pipers and drummers sounding an ecstatic tune.

We can see ourselves as the wise men following the eternal Light into eternal Life. Or we can see ourselves as a St Paul going to new places where the Word becomes flesh and make a new dwelling among them.


Father Lawrence Heiney is minister at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church in Mount Airy.

Father Lawrence Heiney