What is Christmas?

We have prepared. We have longed for the pieces of our brokenness to be restored. And in the midst of our waiting, hope has come. That is what happens when the sun goes down on December 24th and the fullness of love is found in the manger.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:1-3, NRSV).

Why do I love Christmas so much? Because there it is a beautiful picture of the love that we are offered by our Creator. A fragile helpless baby, being presented as the conduit of grace. In the Christian tradition, the Christmas season (note…it is a SEASON, not a day) is a period beginning on December 25th and continuing through January 6th. If you have ever wondered why we sing about the 12 days of Christmas, this would be the explanation. To fully celebrate the miraculous transformation that the world experiences in the coming of Jesus, one day to unwrap gifts and eat ham just won’t suffice!

“Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world he made, in the form of a baby. The Logos through whom the worlds were made took up his dwelling among us in a tabernacle of flesh. One of the prayers for Christmas Day in the Catholic liturgy encapsulates what Christmas means for all believers: “O God, who marvelously created and yet more marvelously restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divinity of him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” In Christ, our human nature was united to God, and when Christ enters our hearts, he brings us into that union.”

-Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait “The Real 12 Days of Christmas” Christianity Today –Aug 2008

If we have truly spent the four weeks of Advent preparing, we are ready for a good long party. We need the time to feel the party. We need the rhythm of celebration to be full. We need to take a holy and carved out moment to soak in the mystery of the gift, and the significance of the hope, that is being offered. Christmas is a season of feasting. It is a season that is designed to give us a foundation of hope that will help us to endure the darkness that inevitably will come.

On a modern note, many are ready for the decorations to be gone on December 26th because they have been glittering in our face since November. I get it. I would, however, encourage you to take the intentional posture of celebration in the midst of the seasonal unwind. As you repack your nativity and re-roll your outdoor lights, I wonder if the call to gratitude and presence can be manifested? Rather than rushing to rid your home of all signs of indoor snow and singing plush reindeer, the deliberate attention to pursue joy can abound.

It is a rare day in our fast paced world that we allow ourselves the gift of slowly celebrating. Perhaps, that’s what the season of Christmas is all about. Otherwise, we move right from candlelight to gifts to attic restocking and in the process, we fail to see how this miraculous season changed the world. It happened long ago, in a culture so different from mine, and yet a miracle was present in a moment that reoriented the life of a 17 year old teenager in Texas in 1992.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come.

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