Every year you know it is coming. Every year it takes us by surprise. Not the snow, although it was a bit early this year and the cold as well. It is the Christmas season. We know Christmas is a season. We sing the Twelve Days of Christmas, which for the record, are December 25 until January 5. January 6 is Epiphany, or "Old Christmas Day" in some traditions. Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus Christ for all, for the Jewish first and for the whole world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all peoples. The wise men are the symbol of this story. Epiphany is a season too. Stay tuned for more on Epiphany in the next chapter of Good Gracious.
We know the commercial Christmas season starts just after Halloween, and many stores are already stocking their Christmas supplies in the Summer. But many individuals, I am told, are putting up their Christmas tree in the first week or weeks of November. My niece was the first to tell me with pride that she did so every year. Now she is married and so I wonder if that tradition has changed. As you probably know, Americans usually wait until after their Thanksgiving in late November before they switch to Christmas, but that is not necessarily the case here.
If commercial Christmas starts the Christmas season in early November, it is indeed a long season for most (at least two months). It is no wonder many also are getting rid of their Christmas decorations and tree at or around Boxing Day. But don’t let the commercial length of the season steal the last part of the Season (December 25 until January 5). I know we hear the Christmas carols and other music in the mall very early, and I do love hearing some of the Gospel music, such as, "Fall on your knees…" It would be great to do that in the Mall just to see the reaction. And simply say, "Listen to the music!" But don’t injure yourself.
The music of the season captures so much of God wanting to come into our conscious lives. I know there is a mixture of Santa and stuff. But make sure Jesus takes the centre of your season. Maybe it has to be after December 25 in your personal life. Determine to make it so this year (and then technically into 2019). That would be an ideal beginning to the New Year.
Most of us have down time after December 25th. Let’s use that time to re-process God moving into our neighborhood through Jesus. And have a great season of reunion and catching up with your family, friends and others in need.
Know again God’s faithfulness as 2018 closes and 2019 begins. Let’s look forward to what God will do among us.
And did you notice I left out Advent? When I started writing, I remembered that it should be included, but then at the end we were talking about Christmas, right? Advent is the missing season in the cultural toolkit. Of course, there are the chocolate calendars, or rather, calendars with chocolates in them, for each of the days of Advent. But why? And the Advent wreaths are beautiful, with the four candles of the Sundays before Christmas, and the Christ Candle. Even my Pentecostal friends are using them in their worship services. They follow almost no part of the liturgical year except Christmas and Easter, and they have adopted the Advent wreath. Why? Because in this celebration of the Second Coming in Advent, just before the celebration of the First Coming of Christ, we find our hearts drawn to the core of the season. Hope and peace and joy and love seem so much closer to what the Season is supposed to be, rather than stuff (stressful gift exchanges), decorating in itself (unless you love to do it), so much that can have so little to do with Jesus. Advent hinges on Jesus: the reason for hope, the reason for peace, the reason for joy, the reason for love. So don’t miss Advent in the Christmas rush. I almost did, when writing this.
Blessings, for Advent, Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany,