Tag Archives: Christmas

Now What?


Carols sung
Cookies frosted
Cinnamon rolls rolled
Dozens on dozens
Now what?

Tree trimmed
Halls decked
Presents hid
Stockings hung
Now what?

Baby born
Shepherds came
Now what?

Christmas morn
Joy unbridled
Laughter laughed
Mem’ries made
Now what?

Gifts unwrapped
Wrappings discarded
Dinner eaten
Hearts and stomachs satisfied
Now what?

Wise men-gifted
Flee to Egypt
Set up shop
Now what?

Games played
Puzzles puzzled
Movies watched
Cookies and desserts devoured
Now what?

Immigrants and refugees
Fear and strange new worlds
Tents and lines
Our ancestors once lived here
Now what?

Christmas isn’t just a day
Not just swapping gifts
Not just cookies,
Ham and bread
Now what?

Life goes on
The baby grows unnoticed
Will he in my life still today
Live on invisibly?
Now what?

Angels, prophets
Stars and kings
Shepherds, cousin
Now what?

Messengers from God
Tellers of the story
Angels then
Neighbors now
Now what?

(c) 2016, Randall J. Ehle. All rights reserved.

Mary Did They Know?


mother-and-kids-afghanThe song has become popular recently, especially with the beautiful arrangement by Pentatonix. But as I saw in a recent Twitter post, “Yes, Mary did know. Now quit asking!”

We often miss the human side of the original Christmas story, though. And though Mary did know that “this sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am,” many others throughout his life missed it. Here, then, are some new words for the old song asking questions from a different point of view….

Mary, did they know you were young and scared and filled with childlike wonder?
Mary, did they know you were just a girl when life around you thundered?
Did they know that the man you wed was not your baby’s dad?
The tears that stain your cheeks now aren’t tears from being sad.

Mary, did they know when the shepherds came to gaze upon your child
Mary, did they know that before he’s weaned, the boy would be reviled?
Did they know that the Roman king would seek to have him killed?
This innocent in your arms the prophecies fulfilled.

The shepherds came, the wise men kneeled, the angels sing his praise.
The rulers fear, the common cheer, this babe who will be raised.

Mary, did they know that a virgin girl had carried God in her womb?
Mary, did they know that before you died you’d weep outside of his tomb?
Did they know that your life would be a tragedy of peace?
The child there in the manger would make suff’ring cease.

Mary, did they know?

(c) 2016, Randall J. Ehle. All rights reserved.

The Twelve Days of Christmas


XRF_12daysIt’s one of my least favorite Christmas carols. It’s obnoxiously repetitive, ranking right up there with that long-bus-ride favorite, “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” It’s nonsensical, with its references to dancing ladies, leaping lords, and half a dozen varieties of bird. It seems that the song, like so many TV commercials, must have been inspired by late nights and an excess of wassail and eggnog.

And yet, for all its faults, perhaps “The Twelve Days of Christmas” can serve for us as sort of an Advent-in-reverse, extending the significance of the holiday beyond the family gatherings and the feverish unwrapping of gifts.

Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas—the actual days, not the song, which was written around 1780—has taken place for hundreds of years…at least as far back as the Council of Tours in AD 567. Included by different Christian traditions during these days are celebrations of the birth of Jesus (Dec 25), His circumcision (Jan 1), and Epiphany or Three Kings Day (Jan 6). 

In recent decades, some have suggested that the song was an encoded catechism, a training tool for Catholic children. That idea, it seems, was concocted in the imagination of a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh McKellar, seeking religious significance in what was in fact little more than a two-hundred-year-old party game. Still, perhaps there is something of value in his thinking.

For the imaginative hymnologist, each gift in the song represented an aspect of Christian faith. In order from one to twelve: Jesus Christ; the Bible’s two testaments, Old and New; faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13); four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the first five books of the Old Testament; six days of creation; seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy); eight beatitudes (Matthew 5); nine fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); ten commandments; the eleven faithful apostles; and twelve points of faith in the Apostles’ Creed.

Perhaps in the days following Christmas, we could use McKellar’s list as a guide for reflection and gratitude.