December 26 – the day after Christmas – the focus of many people will begin to change drastically. The gift swapping, parties, cooking, family get-togethers are now behind us. Some people have a sigh of relief. It is over. Others will begin the task of fighting the crowds to exchange gifts received for the proper size, design, color, etc.
One aspect of December 26 is beginning to take down the Christmas decorations. We will store them neatly somewhere in the attic so that they will be ready to be put up again next year. The act of taking down the Christmas tree is for many people an acknowledgement that Christmas is behind us.
But Christmas isn’t a day – it is an attitude of life. It is a gift that God gave us that keeps on giving every day of the year. The gift of His Son was not a one day celebration. Christmas is about Presence – not presents. December 26 does not mark the fact that Christmas is over – it is really just beginning.
I have a good friend, Reverend Doug Newton. His son is Allen Newton, Pastor of Saint James United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Doug wrote a poem about 30 years ago. I have read it every year. It has challenged me. Let me share that poem with you.
I had a jolting thought today,
As I put the Christmas things away.
For suddenly it dawned on me,
That Christmas isn’t a lovely tree,
With food, and gifts and games galore.
It has to be something much, much more.
Christmas is a daily life,
Lived in the midst of a world of strife,
Meeting life’s events each day,
In a gracious, generous, Christ-like way.
For peace on earth, good will to men,
Can only come in God’s great plan,
When we humbly trust Him day by day,
And let Him in us have His way.
He then to us Himself imparts,
And Christ is born in human hearts.
Christmas is once a year men say,
But I believe that Christmas can come each day.
We may physically put up the decorations, but I pray that the gifts of peace, love, joy and hope that Jesus brings will not be put up, but will be put out in our lives every day. The best way to live a New Year is to live it in the context of responding to the Gift that God has given us at Christmas.
Don’t pack up Christmas and put it away! December 26 is the beginning of a 365 day focus!