When I went to stores during December, it did not bother me if the clerks did not say “Merry Christmas.” But it does bother me when someone does not say “Merry Christmas” as a greeting in church around Jan. 6, when we celebrate the wise men coming to worship Jesus. This is the 12th day. (Twelve Drummers Drumming – now what did Jeff Foxworthy get on 12th day?)
Christmas is much more than a birthday. Truth be told we have no idea what day he was born. What we do profess on this day is that the Son of God was incarnated in the womb of Mary. God has come to us as one of us but he did not sin. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling beside us. He came to be our light and life. He came to destroy sin and death. This is our celebration. We rejoice that God has gifted us in such a wondrous way.
The wise men had read the skies. The stars announced the gift that God gave to the Israelites. They came from afar to acquire the Wisdom of God. The gift is for all humanity. For we who are descended from the gentiles and pagans, the 12th day is the day that God came to us. There are 12 nights between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6.
I am sure we all got something that came with instructions. Most people do not read the instructions first. Trial and error is the method we like. Then when all else fails we read the instruction. The wise men came to ponder the Word of God. They came so they would be able to have the fullness of life. They silently knelt before the Christ child and listened intently. They unencumbered themselves of what humans give great value to.
St. John the Evangelist also had pondered the Christ. He was inspired to write a great poem which begins his account of the ministry of Jesus. If you have not read the first chapter of the Gospel of John, do so now. John then went on to write three epistles. The first Letter is the instruction manual for Christians. The core of Christian wisdom follows (I John 4: 7-11; 19-21):
My dear friends let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love. This is the revelation of God’s love for us, that God has sent His only Son into the world that we might have life through him. Love consists in this: it is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins. My dear friends if God loved us so much, we to should love one another…
…Let us love then because he first loved us. If anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love his brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen. Indeed this is the commandment we have received from him, that whoever loves God, must also love his brother. (NJB) The word of the Lord.
May you live by the wisdom of God in this new year.