And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NRSV)
Merry Christmas! I keep saying it, and I will say it again… it’s still Christmas! At least for a few more days. Why are always in such hurry to get through it? Maybe this year we would have good reason to want Christmas to be over and to get on with the New Year, but the more I have thought about it, I am not so sure. I don’t know about you, but I feel kind of cheated…like we really didn’t get to celebrate much at all. I say, we protest… and declare Christmas for the whole next year!
A large part of the Advent journey is about slowing down, preparing our hearts, opening our minds to the surprise, hope, joy, peace, and love of the Christmas season. When Christmas Day finally arrives, soon after, we can hardly wait to put away the decorations and move into the New Year as if everything we had been preparing for reached its dramatic conclusion with the babe in a manger and our singing of Silent Night and Joy to the World. Far from a climatic conclusion, however, Christmas is just the beginning.
Our yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus is about more than presents, and holiday cheer. It is about Incarnation – Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Christmas is something that was born in the heart of God - who motivated by pure love – sent God’s own son Jesus to become like one of us – to bring salvation and to make us whole. This is a gift that goes beyond a single day or even a season. It is a gift we are invited to experience each and every day. As Adam Hamilton suggests, “Advent and Christmas are only the beginning of the story, not the end. Their messages are meant to shape us all year long.”
What a wonderful thought – Christmas all year long! For some the thought of Christmas all year is exhausting, but maybe that is because we forget the reason for season. We think of Christmas as an annual reenactment of long-ago events in far-away places. And sadly, for many of us, Christmas ends too soon; but this does not have to be case. Christmas remains alive when we allow ourselves to move beyond the manger and permit its true significance to be born in our hearts each and every day. To put it another way, Christmas is a present, not a past. Christmas should not be merely an historical date to remember, but a gift to be lived. Christmas is many things, simple things, every day kind of things.
When you decide to love those around you, that day is Christmas.
When you take the first step to be at peace with a loved one, that day is Christmas.
When you meet someone who asks for help and you assist them with all your heart, that day is Christmas
When you take time to talk to someone who is lonely and sad, that day is Christmas.
When you understand that resentment can be transformed by forgiveness, that day is Christmas.
When you let go of something to give to someone who needs it more than you, that day is Christmas.
When you realize that love, service and authentic concern are the best gifts, that day is Christmas
When you decide to live with joy and hope rather than surrender to fear and sadness, that day is Christmas.
So I say again… Merry Christmas, today, tomorrow, and every other day of the year!
With you on the journey,