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Dad said, “The season is over on the twelfth day of Christmas, and I have a song to prove it!” The teenage daughter argued, “The season is over the day we finally take down the decorations and the tree.” Mom entered the fray by saying, “Christmas is over when the last bill is paid, when the last cookie is eaten, and when we’re done with all the leftover turkey.” Their son chimed in, “Take it from an expert--when you get tired of your toys, or when they’re all broken, Christmas is over…when the fun is gone, Christmas is gone.” But then Grandma piped in: “Whoever said the Christmas season was supposed to end?” And with that, everyone sang “Joy to the World”!
We’ve reached Christmas Day, and for many, this is it—the end. Some people wait till Epiphany (the coming of the Wise Men), but after the 25th most of us begin shutting down the holiday spirit. But does it have to end?
What about you? As you clean up the torn wrappings from this morning, and you pack away all the gifts; as you travel back home or prepare to head back to work, what difference has Christmas made in your life? Have you thought about it? Did the fact that a Savior was born make a difference in your life this season? Are you living a life that reflects that truth? Or are you still wondering what all the fuss was about?
I realize that for some, there’s a sense of relief when it’s all over—the rushing around, parties, shopping, decorating. And if that’s all Christmas is, I can understand why people are glad to have it over. If the holiday isn’t a holy day, it will be a hollow day.
Some people aren’t content with a simple Christmas; they think they’ve let everyone down if they haven’t gone all-out with elaborate decorations and expensive gifts and fancy meals, and so on. Yet none of those things were present in Bethlehem. Yesterday NPR broadcast a concert celebrating the simple wonder of Christmas…from the Biltmore estate! Mary and Joseph were in a more humble place.
One thing I could do without is wrapping presents, something I’m not good at. I know the Magi who visited the baby Jesus did not bring wrapped gifts. There are two very clear biblical reasons why I know this: 1) They were wise. 2) They were men.
We celebrate the coming of hope into our world at Christmas. For us, this is greater, and far more significant than Frosty and Rudolph. I don’t mean to sound like our Puritan forefathers who threw out the holiday altogether, but “peace on earth, good will to men” isn’t on Santa’s sleigh.
John Piper describes the Incarnation as “the end of history”. We don’t think of the birth of Christ as the end, but this pivotal event marks the end of our sorrow. God cared enough about our predicament to do something about it. The author of Hebrews calls Christmas “the culmination of the ages” (26). Christ’s birth was a turning point that set the stage for His sacrifice and second coming. The word “culmination” could be rendered “fulfillment.
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