Collect: O Lord, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Saints and Feasts:
Tuesday, December 25: Christmas Day
Gregory of Nazianzus: “Christ is born: let us glorify him. Christ comes down from heaven: let us go out to meet him. Christ descends to earth: let us be raised on high. Let all the world sing to the Lord: let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, for his sake who was first in heaven and then on earth. Christ is here in the flesh: let us exult with fear and joy with fear, because of our sins; with joy, because of the hope that he brings us.”
Wednesday, December 26: Saint Stephen
Saint Stephen is the first martyr to die for the sake of Christ. He was a Hellenistic Jew appointed one of the seven deacons to take care for the widows in the church in Jerusalem. After speaking to the Sanhedrin and showing the trajectory of Old Testament history as leading to Jesus, he was stoned. In Acts 6, Luke parallels his death with the death of Christ. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe wrote in a sermon,
“Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier. Yesterday our king, clothed in the robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.”
Thursday, December 27: Saint John
On this day, we celebrate Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. Saint John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” as he described himself in his Gospel, was one of the first disciples called by Jesus. He was part of the inner circle who witnessed Christ’s transfiguration and his agony in Gethsemane. Standing at the foot of the cross with Mary, Jesus told John, “Behold, here is your mother.” After the resurrection, John became one of the pillars of the early church. He was the bishop of Ephesus and died of old age around 97 AD. When he was very old St. Jerome recorded that Saint John, whenever he was asked to speak at a gathering of Christians, would repeat “My little children, love one another.” And asked why that was all he would say, he’d reply “Because it is the word of the Lord, and if you keep it that is all you need to do.”
Friday, December 28: The Holy Innocents
On this day, we remember the young children killed by Herod after the birth of Christ. When he heard reports of one born to be king of the Jews, in jealousy for his throne, he ordered that all babies in and around Bethlehem be killed. Matthew’s account parallels the birth of Moses who survived the slaughter of infants to live and deliver his people. Voraigne said that these feast days, coming in this group after Christmas, represent the three ways of martyrdom: one willed and endured (St. Stephen), one willed but not endured (St. John), and one not willed but endured (the Holy Innocents.)
Saturday, December 29: Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury, martyred in 1170 within the cathedral. Born in 1118 to a family of merchants, Thomas received a good education and then served Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury. After proving himself, he became the chancellor to King Henry II. They worked well together and even became friends. So, the king put Thomas forward to succeed Theobald as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Once Thomas inhabited that office, he insisted upon every privilege for the church, and caused dissent with the king and the nobles. The conflict worsened and Thomas fled to France in 1164. From France, Thomas continued trying to mend the controversy, with the pope’s encouragement, until he finally returned in 1170. However, hearing Henry’s angry words about Thomas at court, four noblemen hastened to Canterbury where they murdered Thomas within the cathedral. In the 1930s, T.S. Eliot wrote a verse-drama of this event called Murder in the Cathedral. Among the most famous lines in this play (well worth your reading on this day), are Thomas’s reflections: “The last temptation is the greatest treason. /to do the right deed for the wrong reason.” And, “A christian martyrdom is never an accident, for Saints are not made by accident.”
Songs for the Week:
December 23: Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending
December 24: The Darkest Midnight in December
(To be continued…)
- Here are some great ideas from Auntie Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter on Celebrating All Twelve Days of Christmas
- Along with that, here is a free printable from Bley: Twelve Days of Christmas Cards
- And looking ahead (I know, we just got to get past Christmas first; but just keep this at the very back of your mind), here is our Epiphany Chalking of the Door Liturgy and here is a Three King Crown printable.
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Christ shall visit his people, prepare your hearts and the way of the Lord.