I hope your trees are lit friends: Christmas lasts for twelve whole days, from the 25th till Epiphany arrives! One tradition has it that underground Roman Catholics developed the 12 Days of Christmas song during the English Reformation as a way of covertly catechizing their children in their faith. In addition to the gifts of whimsical birds, jewels, and performers, each numbered day represented a significant theological gift given to the Church by their True Love. While I partially doubt the veracity of those origin claims, I do enjoy making much of the song’s alternate symbolism with my family in the afterglow of the Nativity. Any excuse to extend Christmas and make theology fun and consistent!
And so today is the fifth day of Christmas, celebrated with the resounding refrain of “Five golden rings!” The rings are supposed to represent the five books of Moses, also referred to as the Pentateuch, Torah, or Law. One of my seminary professors used to say the other 61 books of the Bible were just commentary on Genesis through Deuteronomy. Though I’m sure that’s overstated, this portion of text certainly does provide the immovable context for everything else we receive in God’s Word.
Foundational beginnings and a renewed interest in the Habits of Grace certainly seem to accompany a New Year. This Sunday we’ll be evoking the Epiphany (in advance of the feast day on January 6), pondering the connections between stars and wise men and Gentiles and Scripture. I hope this will set us up well for the whole season of Epiphany, which precedes Lent and considers the nature of light in the darkness. To that end, (after the Baptism of Our Lord on January 7), we’ll be spending five golden weeks in Psalm 119, considering the illuminating power of a robust devotional life. We hope it will be an encouragement to keep up your resolutions with regard to the Soul Room.
Until then, Merry Christmas, everybody!