CHRIST IS BORN, GLORIFY HIM! CHRIST HAS COME FROM HEAVEN, RECEIVE HIM! CHRIST IS ON EARTH, BE YE EXALTED!
Undoubtedly, this is the most festive and joyous holiday on the calendar. Some of us started decorating and shopping as early as the day after Halloween. And what a variety of things we have to celebrate the season? Trees with ornaments, colorfully wrapped boxes, Santa Claus with his reindeer and elves, and Nativity scenes. The place of such Christian symbolism does get challenged in the public square. However, in private homes, many people are not opposed to the young mother with baby Jesus.
As soon as Christmas is over, everything goes back into the boxes until next year. No one cares to see Santa while sunbathing in July. Reindeer aren’t as cute as bunnies when it comes to Easter celebrations. Even among those of us who attend services, there is a temptation to see Jesus as just another decoration that we put in a box. He is the sweet little baby with his momma & daddy, and wise men, shepherds, and angels that we keep in the box.
Jesus does not remain an infant lying in a manger. He became an inquisitive child, itinerant preacher following the path of a prophet, someone who was extremely serious about walking the correct spiritual path, a man willing to die for what he believed in. Embracing the baby without considering the growing prophet, priest, and king can only lead to an empty let down when the holidays are over.
Embracing the continuum of Christ does not mean that we can have whatever we want when we want it. If that were the case, he would have never become fully human. He could have remained fully God and never had to go through what we endure. Instead, Jesus took on flesh and dealt with persecution, temptation, insults, betrayal, misunderstandings, anguish, and death. Every day will never be Christmas. We will have to move on just as He did.
The good news is that He moves on with us if we put Him on. We are baptized not simply for the sake of ritual. We receive God revealed to us by the Word of the Father and the grace of the Holy Spirit. When we sin, there is repentance as well as strength to resist temptations. As we fast during Great Lent, He reveals his compassion and instructs us to prepare for the world to come. Sin and death are conquered in His death, burial, and resurrection. Later we receive his promise and power in the Ascension and Pentecost.
If this were not enough, the Virgin Mary is more than a decoration that we put back in the box. But, she is the Mother of God who constantly prays for us. The saints are with us every day to intercede for us as are the guardian angels. The scriptures and prayers direct us in life and light. Christmas very festive and joyous. But the undercurrent of these feelings must be that baby Jesus grows up. May we take Him into our souls and do likewise.