Christmas Day is past and New Year’s Day is almost upon us. Our secular and sacred senses of time collide at this time of year. After all, Christmas isn’t over until January 6th’s Day of Epiphany, the day that commemorates the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child. The secular calendar compels us to put all the hoopla of Christmas behind us and move on to a new year! A lot of people are ready for the scene in New York City to shift from the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center to the ball-drop at Times Square. Putting aside our liturgical sensibilities, most think it’s way past time to make resolutions, start shedding those excess holiday pounds, and get on with paying the bills.
But, wait a minute; hold on, Christmas isn’t over yet. Epiphany season reminds us that the mystery of Christ’s coming brings sustained revelations of God’s majesty. We are dared to savor the experience, not rush past it. God has more to reveal to those who still seek the truth. There are Twelve Days of Christmas and we’re only at number 5! To be honest in our faith, we believe Christmas can and has to be kept all year. The power of God-in-the-Flesh through Christ is a daily necessity in our rebellious world.
Henry Van Dyke sums up my point much better than I in his piece, “Keeping Christmas.” He gives us fodder for New Year’s resolutions and for a great 2015. Here are his words:
“There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing…
• to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you;
• to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world;
• to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;
• to see that men and women are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;
• to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life;
• to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness.
Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing…
• to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
• to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old;
• to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
• to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
• to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you;
• to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;
• to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—
Are you willing to do these things, even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing…
• to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—
• stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—
• and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.”
Let us keep Christmas and may doing so inspire us throughout 2015. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!