The Morning After

This morning, I awoke with an inexplicable sadness.  Maybe you did, too.

It’s not like the sadness I’ve dealt with a lot lately, but more like a letdown somehow.  It was that feeling of, “Now what?” that comes after a long-anticipated event.  I walked into the family room and saw a pile of unwrapped presents and shredded Christmas paper and empty stockings, and felt a little lost.

It’s over.  Christmas 2011 is finished, and now we move on.

I always have a sort of love-hate relationship with the day after Christmas.  The chaos and preparation and stress are over……but that also means that the excitement and anticipation are over, too.  We have another year to wait until we can feel that again.

Or do we?

I think the beauty of Christmas is that it is one day set aside to celebrate something that goes on all year long.  Once that day – the 25th of December – has passed, nothing has really changed.  The reality of Christmas remains.

God – the Author of Life and the Creator of the Universe – ventured to step into a miserably flawed world to save horribly messed up people.  God – GOD – clothed Himself in human flesh, placed Himself within the womb of a sinful human woman, and entered the world in a filthy, smelly, lowly barn in the middle of nowhere.

God did that because He loved me – He loved YOU – so much that temporary humility and pain were a small price to pay for the chance to spend eternity with us.

We celebrate that on Christmas because as humans, we need a day to mark big events.  We like birthdays and anniversaries.  We like to have days set apart to celebrate things because we’re not really good at continued remembrance of important things.  We’re not really good at honoring our spouses 100% every day, so we celebrate our wedding anniversaries one day a year so that we can stop and remember that it’s all about.  We’re not very good at making our loved ones feel special every day, so we honor the day they were born as a special day to show them what they mean to us.

Once those days are gone, we are no less married.  The cause of the anniversary is still true.

Once a birthday has gone, the person we celebrate is no less a part of our lives.  We still love them, and they are still worth celebrating.

And so, friends, is Jesus.

His birthday – or the day we set aside to celebrate His birthday – was yesterday.  Today, though, nothing changes.  If we placed all of our preparation and excitement of the day of Christmas on the physical events – the gifts, the dinner, the family gatherings, the traditions – then yes…today feels anticlimactic.  Today feels like a let-down.

However, He is still here.

That baby who came to bring joy and peace and hope did not disappear on the second day, nor does all He came to bring.  He is still here.  Joy is still here.  Love is still here, and hope still shines in the darkest places.  Peace does not flee once Christmas has been crossed off the calendar.  The Christmas lights will soon be going back into attics around the world…but the Light is still shining.

We can celebrate Christmas – the real Christmas – today.  And tomorrow.  And the day after that.  We can celebrate Christmas on June 27th.  October 3rd.  February 9th and August 24th.  Christmas is not a day.  Christmas is a Spirit, and if we let it, it can be every single day.

There need be no let down.  There need be no disappointing feeling of, “Now what?”  Instead, we should be left with an even greater anticipation.  He came as a baby, and that is cause for all of the rejoicing and celebration we just had.

He is here with us now, as He promised to be.

And one day………one glorious day………He will come back. 

The anticipation of Christmas and the joy we feel around that day should be nothing compared to what we feel now.  He is coming back, and if His first arrival into our world ushered in peace and joy and beauty and all of the things we love most about the holidays, how much more grand will be His second coming?

Imagine that.

Let yourself think about it, and wish yourself a Merry Christmas.

It’s not over.  It has only just begun.

Merry Christmas, friends.  And Joy to the World.

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