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Daily Devotion for December 27, 2011
Third Day of Christmas
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This is a popular Christmas carol in the Philippines and the video gives us an idea of how Christ's birth is celebrated there. (Translation below.)
The blowing wind is cold
But every feeling is so joyful.
The beating of our heart in our chest
Is a gift from heaven.
The sound of Christmas is everywhere
And everyone is full of cheer.
Sadness does not exist;
The joy is perfect.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
A Christmas Prayer
Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth, may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving.
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Count Your Blessings
Count your joys instead of woes; count your friends instead of foes.
Count your smiles instead of tears; count your courage, not your fears.
Count full years instead lean; Count kind deeds instead of mean.
Count your health instead of wealth; Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus is Named
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The Celebration of Christmas
The celebration of Christmas in the United States has been removed from the control of Christians and their churches, and taken over by retail commerce, without regard to religious practice. The Christian celebration of Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts for 12 days, a period known as "Christmastide". Traditionally, Twelfth Night was often as important as Christmas Day, and the ten days in-between were a continual period of feasting and worship. Shakespeare set an important play on Twelfth Night; much of the period was given over to merriment.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church (which has not had the degree of commercial influence we have had in the West), Twelfth Night is a more important holiday than Christmas. The old Christian practice of a twelve-day continuous celebration is still followed.
Colonial America followed the English practice, adding the tradition of the Christmas wreath. Christmas trees were put up on Christmas day — often, the tree would be set up by parents and seeing it would be part of the children's fun when they woke up on Christmas Day. The tree and other decorations would last for the twelve days of Christmas; they would be taken down on January 6 (a part of the tradition that is still often followed) or in some cases on Candlemas, which falls on Feb. 2 and celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Most traditions, however, celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6 and use it to mark the end of Christmastide.
With the onset of more Americanized and secular traditions over the past two centuries (such as the American "Santa Claus", a secular bastardization of various Saint Nicholas traditions), the rise in popularity of Christmas Eve itself as a holiday, and the rise in importance of New Year's Eve parties, the traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely cast aside in the U.S. This is also heightened by the commercial practice to have after-Christmas sales begin on December 26. Indeed, contemporary marketing and media tend to espouse the (erroneous) belief that the Twelve Days end on Christmas and thus begin December 14!
The interest of businesses in selling objects, rather than celebrating and worshiping the birth of Christ, creates ever-earlier onsets of selling pressure. In 2011, for the first time, we saw merchants go so far as to open their stores on Thanksgiving Day itself; it seems their inability to restrain themselves has now impinged on the important holiday and they have begun to ruin Thanksgiving Day, traditionally a time for families to gather in the home.
Daily Prayer tries to follow, at least partially, the traditional feast of Christmastide; we will continue to tell the story of Christ's early years until Epiphany. If you are sick of Christmas music, don't blame us — blame WalMart!