There is no day throughout the year that I look forward to more than Christmas day. From the time I was very young, Christmas has meant coming together as a family and enjoying the love that we have for each other. Christmas has always been the time were all the burdens of life and negative emotions are abandoned for one day, and happiness and appreciation are allowed to govern with impunity. As a child, it seemed as if a shield existed around the day; no matter what else has happened in the year, Christmas always remained undefiled as that one guaranteed “good day” that I could always count on. Even as a newly minted “adult”, much of that mystic remained intact for me. As a college student, Christmas was the time to retreat from the stress of final exams and from collegiate social dynamics, confident that my family would be there to shelter me from whatever trails that had fatigued me.
As thankful as I am though, for the temporary sanctuary and serenity that Christmas offers, in recent years I find myself focusing more and more on the implications of the celebration. Christmas marks end of the season of Advent where liturgical Christians focus on the anticipation of Christ’s return to earth. To aid in that, we relive the act of waiting for Christ’s initial incarnation. From Mary and Joseph, to the Wise Men of the East, to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, we experience the act of hearing this amazing proclamation, and then waiting to see it ourselves. Now though, Advent is over, that thing we have been waiting to see is before us, in all its beauty and glory. Now what? What is the implication of Christmas? What does it means that God chose to became part of mankind?
My personal answer is this: it is time to get moving. God’s plan for salvation is in motion. The Messiah who was promised has come. Things are happening around us and it’s time to be more than bystanders. While God is the author and guarantor of our salvation, his favorite tool for bringing about that ultimate perfect ending is us, the people of the Church. How readily are we making ourselves available to God? How receptive are we to serving the Kingdom of Heaven, especially when in means we have to stop serving the kingdoms of men?
I hope everyone this season has taken joy and comfort from all the holidays have to offer. I pray that you reveled in God’s promise to redeem the world, and celebrated the beginning of that fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Hopefully you found comfort in the love and charity of your friends and family members, and took joy from the opportunity to be united with them, even if only briefly. If the holiday served as a sanctuary for you, then I hope you are now revitalized for the work of God’s Kingdom. If the Holiday was a fount of joy, then I hope you take that joy and harness it spreading love to all people in this new season. Remember, as you come out of this period of joy and celebration, that God’s plan for salvation is in motion, and our time to participate in that plan is now.
Matthew, St. Stephen’s Church & School.