The months before Christmas fill us with anticipation and excitment. The twinkling lights, paper, bows, rolls of scotch tape, gifts, cookies, candy, fudge, friends all increase the level of expectation. As we move through the season, we travel to places that have light shows, attend musical programs, watch Christmas movies, and immerse ourselves in the Christmas spirit.
As we sing the songs of “Joy to the World,” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” “We Three Kings,” and “Away in a Manger,” we remember that this celebration represents God’s condescension from Heaven in the form of frail humanity to a sin-cursed earth, where downtrodden sinners dwell.
While some substitute Christmas with a secularized celebration, they sing songs that are fun and poignant but really give no hope or truth about the meaning of Christmas itself. How different are those songs. “Santa Baby,” “All I Want for Christmas,” “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” “The Man with the Bag,” “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” et al give the sense of the immediate rather than hope for the future.
A funny thing happens the day after Christmas. Suddenly, the tree looks trashy; we jam wrapping and bows along with boxes into trashbags and carry them to the curb; the Christmas lights on houses begin drooping and losing their sparkle, the blowup Santas, reindeer, and manger scenes lie lifeless on lawns, waiting for someone to pick them up and store them in garages or barns.
I’m amazed at the quick dissipation of the spirit of Christmas. In the months previoius, the joyful spirit of the season descends upon us, often creating an insulating cloud of goodwill and the hope for peace on earth. Yet, the day after, the spirit has left us, and we go back to all things as they were.
I’m amazed that on the day after Christmas when we read about the angels bringing good news to the shepherds– A Savior has come. Peace on earth, good will to men–we hear about shootings in neighborhoods, meth labs blowing up in nearby buildings, riots in Iran, the Congressmen and the news media taking potshots at the President and each other, and the horror that Carson Wentz’s goose hunting tweets have created. That’s the aftermath that is Christmas.
But think about “Joy to the World.” At some point, the King of Peace will come, and heaven and nature will sing. No more will sin and sorrow reign. Think about that. We won’t wake up to shootings, drug overdoses, drunk drivers, thieves, crooks, terrorists. All will be peace.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for that. Have a great start to the New Year. Put your best foot forward, trying to have goodwill toward men (and for the feminists, all humankind). Try for peaceful living. Don’t let the aftermath roll you over.