‘Tis the season… The season to think about getting and giving gifts, avoiding the Holiday Blues, the New Year coming up … and other things. (That’s what et alia means: “and others,” or as expanded, “and other things.” See et alia – Wiktionary.)
Which means that aside from Christmas coming up, it’s “that time of year again.” Time to recall the real meaning of the holidays, along with highlights of 2015. (Now drawing to an end.)
Part of that involves remembering things we did at this time last year. (As 2014 was drawing to a close.) But first, a look at today’s Daily Office Readings. Highlights from those readings include Psalm 119:71, Psalm 49:15, and Matthew 24:51.
Psalm 119:71 reads (in the GWT): “It was good that I had to suffer, in order to learn your laws.” On that note, we don’t like to think suffering is good for us. (Or that we have to suffer to grow spiritually.) But being both human and stubborn, that’s often the case.
Put another way: Getting good stuff from God should be at least as hard as shooting the head off a match from 90 yards away. (See On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel.”)
Psalm 49:15 reads (in the BCP): “But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.” This follows and goes along with verses 6 and 7: “We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life; For the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it.”
Which is another way of saying, you can’t go it alone. And that’s especially true when you die. (When you definitely need some help, and a big part of what religion is all about.)
All of which is part of Jesus telling of the “Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times,” followed by “The Day and Hour Unknown.” Jesus illustrated that by contrasting two servants waiting for their master. One was faithful and wise, but the other got drunk and beat his fellow servants. One point? Being a hypocrite is as bad as being that nasty servant:
The hypocrites are the faithless and deceitful, who, while pretending to do their lord’s work, are mere eye servants, and really neglect and injure it. The remissful steward shares their punishment in the other world.
About the same time I did On Amanuenses. (Featuring the image at right.) This was based on 2d Thessalonians 3:17, a DOR from December 13, 2014: “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.”
I then added a note from the Pulpit Commentary:
The apostle [Paul] usually dictated his Epistles to an amanuensis, but wrote the concluding words with his own hand. Thus Tertius was his amanuensis when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22). [See also (Galatians 6:11), (Philemon 1:19), (1 Corinthians 16:21), and Colossians 4:18)…] Such authentication was especially necessary in the case of the Thessalonians, as it would seem that a forged epistle had been circulated…
Then came a discussion of pseudepigrapha – relating to a possible “forged epistle” – and amanuenses in general. The post also noted those who focus on the “minutiae of ritual,” as opposed to the real followers of Jesus. (Those who justifiably seek a higher ethical code of behavior.) The conclusion? “Who knows? In a sense we may all be God’s ‘amanuenses.'”
And finally, I did a post On the 12 Days of Christmas. (Which for reasons explained below, didn’t get posted until January 4.) That was an ode to “both a festive Christian season and title of a host of songs and spin-offs (including one on a Mustang GT):”
The Twelve Days of Christmas is the festive Christian season, beginning on Christmas Day (25 December), that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God. This period is also known as Christmastide… The Feast of the Epiphany is on 6 January [and] celebrates the visit of the Wise Men (Magi) and their bringing of gifts to the child Jesus. In some traditions, the feast of Epiphany and Twelfth Day overlap.
See Twelve days of Christmas. I noted that all these holidays at this time of year were part of an “old-time winter festival” that started on Halloween and ended on January 6.
January 6th in turn is known as Plough Monday,” and also “12th Night.” And Twelfth Night was one of many mid-winter occasions for drinking and carousing around. As one example, Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night “expanded on the musical interludes and riotous disorder expected of the occasion.” (That is, the “occasion of the ‘drunken revelry’ of 12th Night.”)
All of which is illustrated by the King drinks painting below.
“Twelfth Night (The King Drinks)…”
The upper image is courtesy of Epistle to the Romans – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption: “A 17th-century depiction of Paul Writing His Epistles. [Romans] 16:22 indicates that Tertius acted as his amanuensis.” See also Romans 16:22.
Re: The reason 12 Days of Christmas didn’t get posted until January 4:
The Scribe left town at 5:00 on the afternoon of Sunday December 21, thinking that he had already published this post on the “12 Days of Christmas.” But somewhere along the line he dropped the ball – metaphorically or otherwise – and here it is, Sunday, January 4th.