Or, I should say more accurately, Christmastide. Yes, that’s correct: while the secular world thinks that the Christmas season is the time leading up to the celebrations, the food and the presents, the truth of it is that the Christmastide or the Christmas season actually occurs between Christmas Day and Epiphany. If you worship in one of the churches in our world that more strictly adheres to the liturgical calendar, this is not news to you. But, to someone like myself, who has, yes, worked in a Catholic Church as a singer, but who most of her life has worshipped in the houses of a variety of Protestant denominations, this was indeed news.
My first year as the section leader at Calvary Baptist Church, I was indeed confused as I marched through the season — my eyes were never really open to the progression of the liturgical year before, even when working in the Catholic Church, and so imagine my surprise when I looked in the worship bulletin and saw the designation “First Sunday after Christmas”. My immediate thought was: well, now we can sing all that Christmas music that we couldn’t sing in December. Yes, I know, not the deepest of conclusions, but that was my first thought.
But now, several years into living consciously (more consciously each year) with the journey of the liturgical year, I can tell you that this time is a very special time indeed. If we were a high-liturgical community such as the Catholics or the Episcopalians (I’m guessing about that), we would spend these Sundays marking the Feast of the Holy Family, the Octave of Christmas (also known as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God), Ephiphany, and the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus.
We don’t really observe all of those feast days in the their Catholic tradition and detail, but we do follow the lectionary text. So, I am looking forward to the time we spend over these next weeks of the church year, weeks when we study and ponder the full meaning of Christmas: that there is no doubt at all that the Child came and was made flesh, born to an earthly mother, a member of an earthly family, baptized in an earthly ceremony by a human prophet — human, but carrying a light that for all eternity will guide those who but seek it. And, as Pastor Amy said on Christmas eve, we as human beings are both physiologically and spiritually created to seek the light.
May that light shine for you this day.