As a child, one of my least favorite days of the year was December 26. Hands down, it felt like the most depressing day to a seven year old who loves the thrill of receiving more gifts. December 26 meant that presents were done. I remember feeling almost depressed that I didn’t have any more gifts to open. I would hope to open my eyes that morning and it magically be December 25th again so I can relive the moment of having my gifts revealed. Now that I’m an adult, December 26 isn’t all that exciting either because I have to take down all of my Christmas decorations. I just don’t enjoy un-decorating and putting it all away. It’s kind of depressing, and it’s a chore. Okay, enough whining. J
Throughout the process of writing the entries for “Expecting the Messiah,” I kept coming back to the idea of December 26. What will we feel like on December 26? Exhausted now that we can finally relax from the chaotic season? Ready to sleep for three days straight? Stressed because we know the credit card bill is looming? Heavy-hearted because we miss the loved ones who aren’t here with us to celebrate anymore? Depressed that we have to undecorated and put all the Christmas stuff away until next year? Excited to see the children enjoy their new gifts? Happy that the kids are going back to school soon? Bloated from all of the holiday treats? Expectant about making and keeping New Year’s resolutions? Still busy catching after-Christmas sales? What will make up your December 26?
The main reason December 26 kept returning to my mind was the notion of forgetting Christmas. Now, of course we don’t forget Christmas, but we do pack up all of our wreaths and ornaments. We say goodbye to family and friends and return to work and school. The radio no longer plays “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” 20 times a day. Christmas, in the commercial sense of the word, is over.
But the joy of Christmas, the meaning of Christmas, should not cease to be celebrated. Think of it from Joseph and Mary’s point of view. The celebration was just getting started! Jesus had just entered into our world, and He was here to stay for a while! He had come to change hearts and lives. Christmas did not come and go in a rush. Christmas initiated a massive celebration that the Son of God had come to dwell with man.
Christmas is in two days, and then December 26 will come. Don’t stop celebrating the baby in the manger. Don’t stop offering Him your gift of worship, just as the wise men fell on their knees before the babe. Don’t cease to seek Him diligently like the wise men and shepherds. Don’t hesitate to tell everyone you know about the changing power of Jesus Christ, just as the shepherds proclaimed to anyone who had ears. Don’t forget God’s promises, but rather remember them over and over again like Simeon and Anna. Don't forget that God uses humble, wiling vessels like Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. Don't forget that the Lord can work through our doubts, insecurities, and disbelief like Zechariah. Don't forget that He can work miracles through unlikely servants like Mary and Elizabeth. Don’t forget about Christmas and how significant it is to those who believe in the Son of God – Jesus Christ. Don’t be depressed on December 26. Rather be encouraged to continue on in the Christmas spirit as you fall more in love with your Savior every day!
Continue to celebrate Jesus even though the Christmas lights are in the attic. He is worthy of our praise and focused attention every day of the year, not just on the anniversary of His birth, death, and resurrection. As you begin to ponder your New Year's Resolutions, think of all we've discussed this Christmas season, what we've learned about God and humanity and what we've learned from different characters in the Christmas story. Continue to study. Continue to grow. Continue to pursue Jesus Christ!