30 December 2023

Daily prayers during
the 12 Days of Christmas:
6, 30 December 2023

The ‘Six Geese a-Laying’ on the Sixth Day of Christmas are said to represent the six days of Creation … a flock of white geese has permanent sanctuary in the cloisters of Barcelona Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Sixth Day of Christmas (30 December 2023) and tomorrow is the First Sunday of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Before today begins, I am taking some time for reading, reflection and prayer.

My reflections each morning during the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ are following this pattern:

1, A reflection on a verse from the popular Christmas song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’;

2, the Gospel reading of the day;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

‘On the Sixth Day of Christmas … six geese-a-laying’ … geese on the banks of the Cam behind King’s College, Cambridge (Photograph: Tenaya Hurst)

The Sixth Day of Christmas today (30 December) brings us half-way through the traditional ‘12 Days of Christmas’ – although, in liturgical terms, Christmas is a 40-day season that continues until Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation (2 February).

The Sixth Day of Christmas is a quiet day in the Church calendar, without commemorations, although the Episcopal Church (TEC) recalls Frances Joseph-Gaudet (1934), the Educator and Prison Reformer, on this day.

The sixth verse of the traditional song, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, is:

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

Six geese-a-laying,
five golden rings,
four colly birds,
three French hens,
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Christian interpretation of this song often sees the six geese a-laying as figurative representations of the six days of Creation (see Genesis 1).

Perhaps today is a good day to begin preparing for the New Year, to begin making resolutions that have a truly spiritual and Christian intent.

Anna (right) and Simeon (centre) with the Christ Child and the Virgin Mary (see Luke 2: 36-40) … a window in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Luke 2: 36-40 (NRSVA):

36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Anna (right) and Simeon (centre) with the Christ Child, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph (see Luke 2: 36-40) … a window in Peterborough Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Saturday 30 December 2023):

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been ‘Love at Advent and Christmas.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (30 December 2023) invites us to pray in these words:

We pray for senior church leaders around the world – bishops, primates and archbishops. We pray too for the head of the Anglican Church, the Most Revd Justin Welby. May they guide us all in 2024 with strength, grace and wisdom.

The Collect:

Almighty God,
you have given us your only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin:
grant that we, who have been born again
and made your children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

God our Father,
whose Word has come among us
in the Holy Child of Bethlehem:
may the light of faith illumine our hearts
and shine in our words and deeds;
through him who is Christ the Lord.

Additional Collect:

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God.

Collect on the Eve of Christmas I:

Almighty God,
who wonderfully created us in your own image
and yet more wonderfully restored us
through your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as he came to share in our humanity,
so we may share the life of his divinity;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

The ‘six geese-a-laying’ represent the six days of creation … a December sunset at Stowe Pool in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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