Today is Christmas at my daughter’s house, two days after December 25th. We are an airline family; both my husband and youngest daughter work for the airlines. Before he was a commercial pilot, my husband flew in the Navy. From the moment we said I do, we said I don’t need to have things fall on their exact dates. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. were likely to be celebrated before or after the actual event. Family being together trumps the actual day of a special occurrence, and when our children were very little, I wondered if they were confused about the actual dates of their birthdays and Christmas. It never really mattered much in our household. Many people have to work on holidays and know exactly what I am talking about.
From a liturgical perspective, we are in the twelve days of Christmas, so today we are celebrating the third day of Christmas. Of course when you think about it, Christmas should really be celebrated every day of the year.
On the church calendar, Easter is a movable feast, while Christmas is not. (unless Daddy’s a pilot. Or Mommy’s a first responder…) The date for Easter changes every year because it is based on the lunar calendar, and was fixed by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It is set to occur on the Sunday following the first moon after the vernal equinox. Thus Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter are all movable feasts.
December 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth somewhere around 336 AD. This was the day of the pagan festival of the winter solstice, where the birthday of the “unconquered sun” was celebrated. The fixing of December 25th as the Christ-mass thus shifted the day to the birthday of the “unconquered Son.”
Feasting was quite the thing among God’s people. The Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Booths, the Passover Feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Trumpets….God’s people sure do know how to party!
But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!
This prophecy is about another movable feast. When Christ came, he brought with him the feast described in the passage. When Christ returns, this movable feast will be celebrated again. Think of it! The finest foods, vintage wines, seven courses, gourmet desserts, and NO MORE DOOM.
As you sit down to a meal today, make it a feast. Think about all that you’ve been given and think especially about the feast to come. We are living in times when the pall of gloom has darkened our nation, our spirits, and our souls. But a better feast is coming. A brighter day is promised. A gathering of God’s people is being planned even now. Will you come to the table?
Yes! God says so!