Today, Christmas Eve, we turn a long-awaited corner from the “How long, O Lord?” of Advent to the “Alleluia!” of Christmas. We move from the desperate longing that God’s kingdom would come and God’s will would be done on earth as in heaven, into the wonder that the king whom we’ve been awaiting indeed has come, and his will is being done–here, on this earth, in both spectacular and hidden ways. It was so on that night in the little village of Bethlehem, it continues today, and will be all the way until he finally and fully joins earth and heaven together as one. We transition today from watchful expectancy into the awed realization that Christ the King has come, is here, and “all day long [he is] working for good in the world.” We move from Advent’s waiting in longing into Christmas’ adoration of the one to whom all of our longings point us.
And that is such good news, and the adoration such an undeserved welcome and invitation, that I need more than one day of Christmas to let it sink in and give myself over to it. So, instead of one day, how about twelve?
The same Christian tradition that insists on the importance of waiting during Advent insists on giving Christmas its due and not letting our celebration of the incarnation of the Son of God end with the close of the "shopping season." So instead of ending Christmas tomorrow, for the next twelve days, we’ll seek to let Christmas have its full intended and lasting effect on us. This will have nothing to do with a partridge in a pear tree, and everything to do with God taking on flesh, becoming a feeble human child, and how that impacts the lives you and I live in these bodies and in this world, where God chose to live as one of us and now continues his loving reign.
Each day’s reflection will have a short reading and will close with a traditional prayer. So, today, as we turn this corner, let’s enter whole-heartedly into these twelve days of adoration of our King.
You may want to begin right now by pausing in quiet for a moment–in the midst of whatever it is that’s happening around you–as a way of expressing your desire to be one who gives your adoration to Christ our king during these days of Christmas. Then after a few moments of quiet, you might want to mark your own move from waiting to adoration by lifting your heart to God with the words of this traditional prayer:
Alleluia! To us a child is born: O come, let us adore him. Alleluia!
Because you gave Jesus Christ, your only Son, to be born for us; who, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, was made perfect Man of the flesh of the Virgin Mary his mother; so that we might be delivered from the bondage of sin, and receive power to become your children:
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
(From The Book of Common Prayer)