The picture above is taken from the dining room table where I work in the early morning. This is what I see right now. As you can tell, it’s still Christmas at my house. The tree’s still up. The lights outside are still on. In our neighborhood, our decorations were the last to go up and they’ll be the last to come down.
The whole season seemed to be somewhat less than spectacular this year. Maybe it’s just me, but Christmas seemed to fly by. Frosty melted early. It’s almost as if everyone wanted to get it over with and get back to the election. Seriously, is there anything else going on right now? Everything is measured in terms of it. Our celebrated democratic political system seems to have gone over the top. Politicians seem more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing them. And the rest of us are just trying to maintain.
In light of this, we need to concentrate on being human. Care deeply about people. Ask them real questions, not just surface ones. Take time. Find out about their feelings. Be slow to anger; quick to love. And there’s so much fear. We need to be careful not to be afraid, too. Fear cancels our message. We need to be full of hope because of the gospel of Jesus Christ — no other reason. Hope stands out now because so few people have any reason to have it.
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened,” wrote Peter in 1 Peter 3:14-15. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” There it is — “the reason for the hope.” Christ as Lord of our hearts is the reason for our hope. Without Christ at the helm of history, there is reason for fear. With Christ at the helm of history and in our hearts, there is reason for hope.
Realize that by walking around and interacting with people with Christ in your heart, you are making a difference in the world.
As for our decorations … traditionally, Christmas decorations can come down as late as Epiphany, except that was over a week ago. So, as we’ve discussed here before, in some countries, Christians don’t take their Christmas decorations down until Candlemas, which is the celebration of the presentation of the newborn Christ in the temple, 33 days after His circumcision — the event where Zachariah gets his voice back and prophesies concerning Jesus. That’s on February 2. We’re definitely down for that. If any of you are from a country where they do that, let me know. Then if anyone asks me why my decorations are still up, I’ll say we are waiting for Candlemas in honor of our members in your country.
Besides, has anyone else noticed, you don’t really enjoy your decorations until after all the guests are gone, and the rush and the festivities are over? That’s when you finally sit down, take a deep breath, and take in everything.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.