Daily Reflection
December 29th, 2007

Nancy Shirley

School of Nursing
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The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:3-11
Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6
Luke 2:22-35

As I write this reflection in the middle of Advent, I am struck by many layers of meanings that these readings have with the season of Christmas. December 29 is the fifth day in the Octave of Christmas and I immediately thought of the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas and the gifts on the fifth day: five golden rings. In the symbology of the song, these five rings have been identified as representing the five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch. These are the books that chronicle the fall of man from grace.

This fall from grace seems definitely connected to the first reading from Psalms referring to the darkness. It is interesting to consider that emphasized part of this song may be referring to the time when we were not following the Word in the way we should. This is a song that is celebrating the joyful time between Christmas and the Epiphany. Once again our reading is clear in its directive – just as those in the early part of the Bible had clear directives that were at times heeded and at other times not. Perhaps we prolong our singing of the Five Golden Rings to help us remember the mistakes and to lead us back to the Partridge in a Pear Tree (Jesus). In this season of giving and sharing, it is a clear mandate to love one another and to manifest this love through our actions and words. The ring of the Salvation Army bell amid other seasonal sounds beckons us and offers one of the many opportunities to “remain in the light” as we demonstrate our love for our brothers and sisters.

The refrain of the responsorial psalm emphasizes our joy and rejoicing. As I read the various stanzas, I thought how can we not rejoice with all this given to us? – the beauty that surrounds us (when we take the time to look) in every season. I thought about a PowerPoint that I received a while ago – it was called “God spilled the paint.” It was a series of the most beautiful pictures and colors found in nature – nothing man-made here – just gifts from God – pure and intense. There is a lovely song sung by Heidi Joy [a local artist here in Omaha (and a relative!) known for her spiritual/gospel songs] called “How Can I Keep from Singing.” I think that is the essence of this response and perhaps what our lives should be in general. When we look beyond our self-centered world to the greater world around us and allow ourselves to take in the beauty – how can we keep from singing? Even in the midst of tragedies and heart ache, the love we receive from God is so awesome. How can we keep from singing?

The gospel continues this thought of hope and positive focus. Imagine walking with the Holy Spirit with the promise that you will not die until you have seen Christ. Then think of everyday . . . do we not as Christians have that opportunity before us always? We do walk with the Holy Spirit following our Confirmation. We do have numerous ways that Christ appears to us – through the various challenges and joys, the presence of Jesus is there if we have an open heart. We have the good fortune to have the Light revealed to us when we are open to receiving it as was Simeon.

I’ll close with a quote I found – I can’t remember the source – but I typed it out some time ago because it seemed profound in its simplicity:

“Lord, with no sense of direction, I’m forever losing my way. Please tie a string from your heart to mine so that even in the darkness, I’ll feel the tug of your heart and find my way home.”
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