In church liturgy Christmas begins on December 25 and wraps up with Epiphany on January 6 when we celebrate the arrival of the wise men. In between there’s St. Stephen’s Day, St. John’s Day, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, New Year’s, and Twelfth Night. Who knew there was so much to celebrate?
And while we aren’t necessarily feasting or exchanging gifts on these in between days, I do think it’s important to take time to honor Christmas. At the end of A Christmas Carol Dickens wrote that Scrooge, “knew how to keep Christmas well.” I don’t think he simply meant that Scrooge celebrated the 25th or gave poor Bob Cratchit a day off. Dickens went on to write that Scrooge became “as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”
Not just at Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ shouldn’t be the end. It should be the beginning of launching a year in which we take Christ’s teachings as well as his commands to heart. The Twelve days of Christmas is an excellent time to take stock and make–not a New Year’s resolution–but a Holy resolution to follow that narrow road Jesus mentions in Matthew 7. Not the broad, easy road mind you. Rather the narrow footpath that looks so very precipitous.
And which is the greatest commandment? Well, someone asked Jesus that very question. He said, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So there you have it. My word, my resolution, my epiphany for 2014. LOVE. God first, everyone else second. Seems like a good place to start.