The first three days of Christmastide- after Christmas day- are spent in honoring the Comites Christi or Companions of Christ. Yesterday was devoted to the first Christian martyr- St. Stephen. His story is found in the book of Acts. You might remember this feast being mentioned in the Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas. We spent it together at home and dedicated the evening meal to this murdered deacon.
Today is the day of the beloved disciple-St. John. Sandi and the girls are going to an English tea room for lunch. They have a small gift exchange among themselves. Tommy and I will have a “boy’s afternoon out.” It’s traditional to bless wine on this day. That’s the plan for this evening- here is the blessing we will use.
The Blessing of Wine on St. John's Day
Lord Jesus Christ, Thou didst call Thyself the vine and Thy holy Apostles the branches; and out of all those who love Thee, Thou didst desire to make a good vineyard. Bless this wine and pour into it the might of Thy benediction. Grant that every one who drinks of it may, through the intercession of Thy beloved disciple the holy Apostle and Evangelist John, find courage and strength to pursue the Way, be renewed in the Truth of the Word made flesh, and at the last enter into Life everlasting, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
A glass of wine is then passed around the table. As it is passed, the giver says:
"Drink to the love of St. John."
And the recipient answers:
"For where love is, there is God."
In addition to the Merlot, I’ve started fermenting six gallons of pepper wine this Christmas season. It's only four days into the primary fermentation stage- an appropriate time to ask for God’s blessing on it, me thinks.
Tomorrow those children who were murdered by King Herod will be remembered. On Holy Innocents Day we hope to thank God for each of our children, blessing them:
"O God our Father, whose Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, once embraced the little children who were brought to him, saying, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and their angels always see the face of my Father;" Look now, we beseech thee, on the innocence of these children: Bless them and protect them this night and throughout their lives; (the parent makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of each child) in thy grace and goodness let them advance continually, longing for thee, knowing thee, and loving thee, that they may at the last come to their destined home and behold thee face to face; through Jesus Christ, the Holy Child of Bethlehem, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
Then, taking the head of each child in both hands, a parent says to each one: May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless you and keep you both now and for evermore. Amen.
Here is a wonderful resource for those who wish to keep the fullness of the Christmas Feast.