still christmas

For the second year now I’ve hung the Christian Seasons Calendar on my office wall. In case you don’t know, the calendar follows the church liturgical calendar, not the typical 12-month dating system. For example, here’s the current page:

While at times confusing in the weekly life of church ministry (I’ve gotten more than a few confused looks as people try to locate a date), I’ve found the calendar to be a helpful reminder in prioritizing what directs my life - not my schedule!

And in the a time when many are looking back at 2011 and looking forward to 2012, my calendar tells me it’s still Christmas (until the 5th anyway). The story goes on.

Upon entering a new year - re-entering the life of routine that January often brings - it’s amazing how quickly the Christmas story fades away. The wonder and mystery of “God with us” gives way to meetings, work, preschool, swimming lessons, exercise (I hope!), NFL playoffs, rain (or snow), and on and on and on...

Each January I find myself looking back at Christmas and thinking, “whoa, that was a blur.” It’s a good blur, don’t get me wrong. I love the celebration with family and church. But my memory of the week is a sort of hazy jumble of one event after another. Christmas, I tend to think, is over. It was last week. Now it's a new year.

But my calendar says Christmas isn't over.

Thank goodness!

What was marked by our celebration last week is not limited to last week. Again, the story goes on. And it should. Perhaps like Simeon and Anna in the weeks following Jesus’ birth, the reality of Christmas doesn’t meet us at the moment marking Jesus’ birth. If we're honest, this is probably true for many. We are still waiting for “God with us.” We still need Christmas.

In fact, once January settles in, we likely need Christmas more than ever. Behind the January routine lies deep longing and expectation that the feelings of Christmas could extend beyond last week. We want wonder and mystery, peace and goodwill, all the time. We need a Simeon-like encounter where we can see God’s salvation in our midst (Lk. 2:30) even in the most unexpected moments of the grey winter months. Here, early in 2012, we need to remember: Christmas isn’t over.

This January, then, may we join Anna and give thanks to God (Lk. 2:38)! It's still Christmas after all.

Merry Christmas!


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