“Savor Christmas” by Elizabeth Stone.
January 5, 2020.
Today (January 5th) is the twelfth day of Christmas; it is the last day of our nativity feast for the coming of King Jesus, and most of us, myself included, felt rushed through the holidays. Our rhythm of celebration seems to be dictated by the malls and stores, who even as early as 4 p.m. Christmas day, race to sell off all the holiday items at increasing discounts, taking down their decorations and pushing us all into the next season they want to sell us.
My mother was unmoved by the Christmas rush. A good Anglican, Christmas decorations never came down until January 6th, or Epiphany, the Episcopal celebration of the arrival of the wise men. Epiphany is an “ah-ha” moment, a time when divinity is revealed, or when we grasp the reality of a person or event suddenly and it has life-changing consequences. We have discovered the divine identity of Jesus the Christ Child; how does that change us? How does our life proceed? Once the Christmas decorations are all put away, what new directions do we take?
Psalm 6 is one of David’s songs of lament, when his life was not going well. We seem to forget – in the mad holiday rush – that lots of people are in sorrow, suffering from illness, want, or sorrow. Maybe they, like David, are feeling angry, weak, sick, sinful, and shamed, far from mercy and far from the glory that God’s children are supposed to enjoy, especially at Christmas. At the end of his prayer, David says: “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.” What greater gift can there be than to be heard by God? What greater evidence of grace is there than the coming of Jesus Christ to save us, the ultimate answer to every prayer? If this has been a tough holiday season for you, let me assure you that you haven’t missed it. You have been heard.
Savor Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol says: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Charles Dickens had it right; the gift of Christmas is not to be pigeon-holed at the end of December and then packed up for eleven months. The love of God that came to us at Christmas is an all the time gift.
Tomorrow I will start taking down my decorations, because, after all, I am a true daughter of my mother. But I will leave out a candle, something to remind me of Christ, the light of the world that came and dwelt among us, the guarantee that no matter what, our prayers are always heard.