Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 The Message)
This is one of my favorite photos from Christmas 2012. The wrapping paper announces the abundance of thought, love and expense that went into creating this special moment.
Yesterday, we were talking to my sister and her family in New Jersey, and she posed this question: “What I want to know is how we can do all the shopping and all the wrapping and then in 30 minutes it’s over?”
And we all laughed. And I tried to come up with some wisdom about the magic being in the wrapping and unwrapping of the presents.
And today the trimmings of Christmas still adorn our home, but the anticipation is gone. The gifts are tucked away for now. But Christmas is not over; it’s just beginning.
According to the liturgical calendar, Advent was ushered out with our festive feasting on Christmas day. And now we are in the season of Christmas, a time to reflect on the joy of His salvation.
In the past, I often fell into a funk on the second day of Christmas. But now I look forward to finding ways to keep the celebration alive. To devote time to thinking about the Christ Child and what the new year may bring.
I can give in to the despair of the winter doldrums or I can look for the potential and promise of new birth. I can receive the joy and happiness that God offers each day, if only I would attend to and anticipate it, like I do on Christmas morning.
In The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister wrote a chapter about joy, subtitled “The Essence of It All.” The essence of the Christmas season is the joy found in relationship with God. I can contemplate who the newborn baby is and what His birth means in history and now.
Joan Chittister equates happiness with this “journey to the joy” that marks the entire liturgical year.
“Happiness does not require choice some of the time. Happiness requires choice all of the time. It requires learning to choose between what is real and what is fleeting, what is worthless and what is worthwhile. But that does not make the effort either impossible or unacceptable. It simply requires discrimination.”
When the winter blues come knocking on my door, and they will, I have choices. I can choose to invite them in and have a good old-fashioned pity party. Or I can send them on their way, and instead invite the Spirit of Christmas to infuse my life with the abundance of hope, peace, love and joy that He offers everyday! The presents may be long forgotten, but His Presence abides. And don’t dismiss the presents, they can be tangible reminders of His grace, as well as the relationships that exist between the giver and the receiver.
Merry Second Day of Christmas!