December 25th is now past.
The Christmas shopping season is over, undoubtedly to the chagrin of many retail outlets who are still not satisfied with a commercial spree that began right around Halloween.
And now it’s over.
It reminds me of a wedding, actually. We (by which I mean, my wife) spent 4.5 months of intense planning for our wedding day. We tend to be a bit overboard when it comes to planning, and our wedding was no different. We had things timed out and written up so that the ceremony and the reception and the honeymoon would all be relatively stress-free while also being memorable and celebratory.
And it was a great day. We watch the video every year on our anniversary and we still laugh and smile at the same scenes.
But then the wedding day ends. The honeymoon cruise pulls back into port. And then…?
And then there’s the marriage: a lifetime of living out the vows that were exchanged on that day, of validating the expense and celebration of that one day by living every day afterwards with intentionality in loving and serving one another. The wedding is over, but the marriage goes on.
Christmas Day 2011 is over. Was all of our preparation merely for one sit-down feast and a few minutes shredding some prettily colored wrapping paper? Will our celebration, our recognition of the Truth, come to an end (once again) because we flipped to the next day on the calendar?
I think of the impact on our lives that the preparation for Christmas has. The intentionality of wandering the malls–and Amazon web pages–looking for that perfect gift. My ridiculous attempts to try and wrap a gift so that it looks desirable. Extra phone calls to family members. Sending out more cards and postcards than the entire rest of the year combined. The goings on of the Christmas season impact my routine pretty significantly in the lead up to Christmas Day.
And Christmas Day itself is fairly unique. There are foods eaten and other rituals engaged in which never appear elsewhere in the year.
But then it seems to end. The celebration of the Savior born in a manger, the reflection on His coming, on God’s love, on the amazing willingness of Mary and Joseph to be a part of God’s plan…all of these things seem to fade so quickly. At least until the next October when the shopping season gets ramped up again.
I fear that some people live for their wedding day, but not for their marriage. They invest heavily in the outworking of a 24-hour period, and don’t concern themselves too much with the days, weeks, and years to follow.
How often do we fall into a similar mindset when it comes to celebrating Christmas? We spend weeks investing in the preparation for December 25th, and then ignore the purpose for celebrating during the rest of the year. We’ve contented ourselves with acknowledging “the reason for the season” for just a season, when in reality we should be living out that reason in every season.
One day is not enough to fully celebrate, let alone contemplate, the truth of God’s love and salvation as revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
The wedding was wonderful, and it’s now over. But the marriage should never end.
Christmas Day was wonderful, and it’s now over. But our commitment to celebrating Christ should never end.