“From his fullness, we have received grace upon grace.” –John 1:16

schaeferHave you noticed any neighbors already putting their trees out on the curb? Do you feel tempted to put away all the Christmas decorations and create space for something new? The Church in its wisdom teaches that Christmastide is 12 days long, not just a single day. We are invited not to rush through it to prepare for the “next big thing” but instead to savor Christmas for 12 full days.

When a baby is born, it takes some time for the family to adjust and make space for new rhythms, cries and joys that a baby brings. So, too, do we need time to welcome the humble baby Jesus into our hearts and homes as we celebrate the Nativity. We can’t just “go back to normal” on December 26, any more than a family tries to resume its old patterns without taking into account the miracle of new and vulnerable life.

So how can we celebrate these 12 days? One suggestion is to consciously open ourselves to receiving gifts from the Holy Spirit over these 12 days. Curtis Almquist with the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) suggests that we meditate on the following gifts: love, revelation, forgiveness, joy, hope, redemption, being named, humility, companionship, gratitude, peace and blessing. For each of the 12 days of Christmas, St. Peter’s will post a brief reflection on each of these “gifts” on our Facebook page and encourage you to join the conversation by posting how you’ve seen these gifts unfold in your life over the past year. We’ll also update our Parish House bulletin boards with images and comments you share.

As we become aware of these gifts in our lives, we come to experience genuine gratitude for the “grace upon grace” that God bestows. And we trust that our hearts will be transformed little-by-little into the “full stature of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13).

–The Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector