Today is the day! The long-awaited Christ has come. We shout “Emmanuel!” because God is with us in the flesh. The spirit of this holiday is expansive enough to include many other traditions like brightly lit trees and gift exchanges which, while not uniquely Christian, reflect our joyous celebration.
Tomorrow, or maybe even as early as this evening, we will begin thinking about the clean-up. Most Christmas trees will be down before the new year begins; a few may make it until Epiphany – the day marking the end of the twelve day season of Christmastide. The annual “War on Christmas” will declare its annual 11-month cease-sire as merchants clear the way for Valentine’s Day and summer fashions. Many people who thought it was crucial for cashiers and baristas to say “Merry Christmas” during the entire season of Advent will stop caring on December 27th without realizing the irony.
The intense activity of Christmas – or at least the effort we invest in its more secular aspects – is not sustainable all year long. We may talk about keeping the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long, but we aren’t all that good at it. After the holidays, donations to food banks and other charities drop dramatically, but the needs they serve do not diminish. Christmas as a special day of celebration is wonderful, but Jesus did not remain an infant forever, and after Christmas the way we celebrate him must also mature.
We can bring light into dark places through acts of kindness and attitudes of love. We can offer gifts of time, talents, and money so we love people in need as children of God more than once a year. Instead of seeking meaningless offense at otherwise well-intended holiday greetings, we can speak loudly against words and actions of actual oppression and injustice. Like the infamous inn, our lives can become so full we turn away the arrival of Christ without realizing what we’ve done. We can create room by living as if Christmas is not the end of a season, but the beginning of a life where Christ dwells within and among us.
Comfort: Christmas is more than a day; it’s a life of hope, love, peace, and joy.
Challenge: Over the next 11 months, plan a monthly Christmas “celebration” to bring the light of Christ into places and lives that need it.
Prayer: [Read Psalm 96 or Psalm 98, aloud or to yourself].
Discussion: Do you have any Christmas traditions that you could revisit throughout the year?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!