Planning for Christmas
For weeks we have been planning for Christmas. Looking for bargains, some even gave up their Thanksgiving evening to fight the crowds on “Black Friday.” Family recipes were pulled out of the drawer, decorations out of the basement or attic. Children were excited as they made out their Christmas wish list. Churches were busy planning special observations on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
The day comes and goes. Busy adults breathe a sign of relief and begin the task of taking down the tree and its ornaments, putting all the decorations back in the basement or attic until next year. Children enjoy their new toys although some are probably already bored and ready for the next new toy on the market.
School opens again and workers return to their jobs many complaining of how tired they are and how hectic the Christmas season has been. Grandparents are thankful for the memories they made with their families over the holiday but glad to get back to their quiet routine.
Life goes on as always……has anything changed?
Response of Shepherds and those who heard their story
Reading the Christmas story this year I was struck by the scripture in Luke where he tells of the shepherds’ visit to the stable where baby Jesus laid. The shepherds excitedly told Joseph and Mary about the visit of the angels and their message that the Messiah had been born that night in Bethlehem. Apparently they also told the people in the village. Luke tells us that all who heard their story were astonished.
I can imagine that was quite an experience for the shepherds and the people in the village. They probably talked about that night for years to come, telling their children of the visit from the angels. No doubt there was many a discussion as to what happened to that child when his family suddenly left Bethlehem for Egypt.
But was there any change?
I wonder – did they search the scriptures to see what they had to say about the Messiah? Did they seek to know more of God? Or, was it just an exciting experience to talk about around the campfires at night as they continued to watch their sheep? When Jesus appeared on the scene almost 30 years later, did they question if he was the little babe born in Bethlehem?
We celebrate Christmas
So today we make a big production of Christmas. You can always count on people saying “Keep Christ in Christmas” and complaining of those who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But what about keeping Christ in our lives all year long. What does saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” really do if we go back to our normal life after Christmas content that we “kept Christ in Christmas’? Did our reflection on the Christmas story make any difference in our day-to-day lives?
Luke tells us that Mary “kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” This was not just an exciting night to be celebrated now and then. This was a daily part of Mary’s life. Can you imagine the sense of responsibility and great concern she felt that she and her husband were to raise the Son of God? Did she totally understand what that meant? And the words of Simon who told her a sword would pierce her own heart had to make her pause and wonder what the future would hold – for her – for Joseph – and especially for her son.
Mary pondered – thought – on all these things. I wonder how much we ponder and think about the Christmas story and what it really means after the holiday is over. The Christmas story is old and well-known to us, but after the observation of Christmas is over, has it made any difference in our lives?