There’s nothing that makes me sadder than seeing discarded Christmas trees thrown to the curb right after Dec. 25 has come and gone. Yet there they are, stripped of all their tinseled glory, proclaiming the fake news that Christmas is over. It isn’t. If anything, Christmas has just begun.
I’m not talking about being mindful of observing the 12 days of Christmas. While doing so is a great start (and a reason why I wanted to extend this year’s Advent devotional to include Christmastide), I’m talking about the challenge to keep Christmas in our hearts — always. We have just been given the most amazing gift — Jesus, God’s Son, to be by our sides through thick and thin, the ups and downs, the trials and the tribulations. Now it’s up to us to use the gift.
There’s no exchanging Jesus for something better, because there’s nothing better out there. There’s no putting Jesus on a shelf to collect dust, either. So, what will you do with this gift? How will you allow such a gift to change your life? For me, Christmastide is a perfect time to reflect on those questions.
The frenzied build up to the big day, Dec. 25, is over, and there’s stillness in the air that gives my racing mind permission to slow down. With all the “must-do’s” for the secular Christmas celebration — mask-wearing, last-minute trips to the store for eggnog or butter for cookie making — off of my list, my spirit can now breath in God’s Spirit.
Howard Thurman always saw Christmastime as a time for us to remember the graces of life. “It is important to seize upon the atmosphere during this period, to let it tutor our own spirits in kindness,” said Thurman.
When we are quick to discard the trees and pack away Christmas as the secular world tells us we ought to do, we are missing out on this precious, holy season that can indeed tutor our spirits in how to be the light-bearing children of God. But sometimes God whispers to us: “Don’t be so quick to discard something that has grown old or just doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. Don’t rush to move on. Linger a bit. Trust some more. Enjoy the Christmas lights. Let the significance of the gift of Emmanuel really sink in, for it is a gift that changes lives. Just ask Joseph.”
God of light, you who shines brighter than any string on the Christmas tree, help me to embrace this season of Christmastide. May these days be ones in which the gift of your Son truly enters into my heart, creating a new one that beats with more love. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Keep the Christmas candle of love burning bright — make some cookies for a friend, cook a festive meal and deliver it to someone who might have celebrated Dec. 25 alone, or simply call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.