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25 December 2014
  The Witness Days

The days following Christmas are sometimes called the "Witness Days." The Greek word for "witness" is "martyr" and these days remind us that this sinful world hates the Gospel message of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Ask the Pastor has a longer article on The Witness Days. It deals specifically with "dragging all this 'blood and violence' into the beauty of Christmas." It explains that "Jesus was born flesh and blood, and if we ignore the violence that was done both to Him and to others because of Him, then we are not fully prepared to face this world. His blood shed for us on Calvary became the lifeblood of the world."

Traditionally, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Days of Christmas (26 – 28 December) remember Saint Stephen, Saint John the Apostle, and The Holy Innocents. Some traditions commemorate other witnesses on subsequent days. James Kiefer uses an Episcopal liturgical calendar to establish the basis for The Witness Days. The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod listings vary from those included by Kiefer. For example, on 29 December, Kiefer remembers Thomas à Becket while the LCMS calendar calls for the Commemoration of David.

Kiefer closes his article on the Witness Days with this excellent observation: "On January 1st, we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Since we are more squeamish than our ancestors, modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but the other emphasis is the older. Every Jewish boy was circumcised (and formally named) on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, we celebrate the occasion when Our Lord first shed His blood for us. It is a fit close for a week of martyrs, and reminds us that to suffer for Christ is to suffer with Him."

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