The Days after Christmas
Let’s spend a few moments looking at the Christian calendar for this week. We all know about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you’ll pardon the sarcasm, the former is when we flock to church to see our kids and grandkids put on a show for us before we head home either to open presents or to get to bed so we can get up early to open presents. The latter is when we either sleep late or else are up early opening presents, but either way forget that there was a worship service scheduled for the morning. Of course, some people defy these stereotypes and come to the programs and services of the Eve and the Day to celebrate God’s redemption in Christ Jesus and the forgiveness and new life they possess by His grace.
December 25 is actually the first of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Days Two through Four, the “Witness Days,” remind us of a sinful world’s reaction to the Word Made Flesh. The Greek word for witness is martyr and the initial Witness Day commemorates St. Stephen, the first recorded martyr of the Christian Church (Acts 6:1-8:2). The 27th is the Feast of Saint John. He wasn’t put to death but did suffer extended exile for the sake of “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 1:9).” Next, Holy Innocents’ Day commemorates the slaughter of Bethlehem’s children by Herod, as he attempted to destroy the Usurper to his throne (Matthew 2:13-18).
I pray the Lord uses these witnesses (and others of His faithful people) to strengthen your faith, heighten your resolve, and increase your acts of love toward God and neighbor, that you would by grace be, with Jesus, “God’s gift to the world.”
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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Newspaper column #533:2