On the last day of Christmas

I've been thinking about writing this for a while.  It even crept into my Christmas Eve sermon.  I had thought I would leave it alone and let Christmas go by, but I happened to read this article: The Thud After Christmas.  So, blame that author for what you are reading now.

You've read the yard signs, bumper stickers and shoe-painted business windows.  You know, then, that Jesus is the reason for the season.  That's like the first question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire; if you miss that one, you're just not paying attention.  Since that's such an easy question, let me ask you another one.  What "season" are we blaming Jesus for?

Is Jesus the reason for the season
  • of lights?  
  • what about the trees?  
  • surely, we aren't indicting baby Jesus for bringing us Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.  
  • is Jesus the reason for the shopping season or the subsequent season of credit card bills?  
  • does Jesus really have anything to do with snow falling on December 25th?  

It's an appropriate question to ask. There's a lot about this season that may or may not have anything to do with Jesus. Of course, some of us will say, this is the season of Christmas; the treats are bonus. Well, if Christmas is the season Jesus is the reason for, why have many of us moved on already? I'm writing these words two days after Christmas. Since Christmas I have seen after-holiday sales, people taking Christmas decorations down and the spirit of Christmas turn toward the anticipation of the New Year.

Understand, Christmas didn't begin after the NFL triple-header on Thanksgiving. Christmas began when you worshiped with your family and friends at church on Christmas Eve. By the way, we recycled all the left-over bulletins from that service, if you know what I mean.

If Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, then we've got a couple of weeks before that is all over. Don't look at me weird, then, if I still wish you a "Merry Christmas!" Christmas ends on January 6. I waited as long as I could to put up a Christmas tree and to sing Christmas songs. So, I'm all Christmas until early January. I'm singing Emmanuel for as long as I can. And not O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Everyone knows what one!), but United Methodist Hymnal #204 Emmanuel--that's my most meaningful Christmas song.

Now, am I trying to convert you to a more liturgical lifestyle? That wouldn't be all that bad; trust me. But, no, that's not my intent. I do want to remind you that we live in the same world. You and I see the same news. We know about what happened in Connecticut a few weeks ago. We know about the police officer and firemen who were shot to death. Even if you hadn't heard about the cases I'm referring to, you could easily find others. Cancer is a common word. Families are fighting against each other. People are hurting.

Saying that we're ready for Christmas because we got the cards all mailed doesn't help those people. Rushing to get our gifts ready and houses decorated doesn't do much good either. We all are in need of hope and joy. We don't find that under a tree or on a red-suited, fat guy's lap. We find that in God. It's taken me years to truly begin to understand that. The quick rush of Merry Christmas doesn't begin to address any of that for us.

The cultural Christmas season is nice, but it has its inconsistencies. I stood in line in front of a woman who was cussing out another woman for, supposedly, cutting in line. Merry Christmas.

The church’s Christmas season is a time we give ourselves to evaluate our lives to discover where it is we need God's grace. Don't be the over-saved guy, please; I know we do that all the time. But if Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, we should realize that New Year’s Day just happens to be during that time.

Where is your hope thin? In what ways have doubt, insecurity and fear overwhelmed you? What are your disappointments? your failures? your lack of faith? What has kept you from being more faithful to God? If Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, it seems like questions like these would help us see where God's light needs to shine in our darkness.

I want Christ’s light to shine for you. If it does, then you know what a merry Christmas is, and we still have time to celebrate it.

1 Responses :

Anonymous said...

John: You've made some interesting points, but, although I enjoyed them, you're almost entirely correct! But don't you think Christmas should be celebrated in some way 365 days instead of just 12? So why can't we keep something out to enjoy 365 days. I'm still working on that, although I'm not sure of what kind of thing. But right now I'm keeping an open mind. Any real suggestions, friend. Tell that lovely family of yours I have missed them much and hi from me.