The Ninth Day of Christmas

Last year at Easter Matt and I learnt that a season of celebration is always going to be interrupted by sorrow and trauma. The season of Advent might be over, but the principles of Advent are still true: Christmas has come but we are still waiting for Jesus to come back! By the ninth day into Christmas celebrating you might have learnt this lesson too. Your celebrations might have been interrupted by sickness, maybe family struggles, maybe all kinds of difficult things. It’s impossible for a season of celebration to be untouched by the sin and corruption that still exists in ourselves and in the world. Today’s collection of resources kind of captures the sadness intermingled with Christmas joy.

Read Isaiah’s prophecy about the end of death and tears. Read T.S. Eliot’s whimsical rememberings of childhood Christmases and Jamie Harrison Dunk’s poem about the dark history of southern hemisphere Christmases. Make bittersweet lavender and citrus cordial. Listen to The Oh Hello’s suite of mashed-up Christmas carols circling from O Come O Come Emmanuel, through the darkness of the massacre of infants in the Coventry Carol through to the explosive rejoicing of Joy to the World and back to the beginning again. Dance with all your might to the joyful strains of the banjo.

     

The Eighth Day of Christmas

The Circumcision of Jesus | New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! Did you stay up for the fireworks and then party through to the wee hours of the morning? Or did you head to bed early to watch the sun rise? It is surprising that what might be the world’s most widely celebrated public holiday also coincides with one of the most obscure feasts on the Christian calendar: the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. Partly this is because of a quirk; until 1752 in the English-speaking world New Year’s Day was widely observed on March 25, coinciding with the feast of the Annunciation. Yet today is the eighth day after the birth of Mary’s child, the day on which Jesus was named and circumcised according to Luke.

Christ’s circumcision has been seen by theologians such as Calvin and Barth as a proleptic sign foreshadowing his death. At the very least it was part of Jesus Christ, the true Israel, the true adam, participating in our humanity for the sake of our salvation. As Paul writes: ”For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.’

In moving the New Year from Annunciation to Circumcision, Christmas became a festival spanning two calendars. The result was that years now end as they start: a celebration of the one named Jesus, who saves his people from their sins (Matthew 1.21). As you celebrate today, remember that it is this one who’s name is written over the year ahead.

     Music Norah Jones