In the words of Fernita Cook, “It wasn’t Broadway, but it was great!” And so, this year’s Christmas program at Ebenezer Presbyterian is put to rest, but not before “wowing” everyone in attendance. Before you hand me the Oscar for best script, let me give a special nod to our youngest actors, Cody and Casey Short; CeCe, Bubby (Jimmy), and Morgan Miller; and Brody Romine. You brought the story to life. And to the narrators, Danielle and Donny Glunt, thanks for your help. Three cheers for all of you!
After the play we had a special visitor in attendance, the one and only St. Nicholas himself. I had the pleasure of interviewing him regarding his origins and how he became the beloved Santa Claus we know today. I’m not sure he could have imagined, so many years ago, that helping the poor children in his care would have grown into such a wonderful history/tradition. Thanks, A.M., for helping with that (you know who you are)! Oh, and did you ever notice that whenever the “jolly old soul” comes to visit, cousin Andy is missing? Hmmmmm. Kind of like that Clark Kent character!
Also, I had the pleasure of “staying over” in Greenfield this past weekend so we could be there for rehearsal on Saturday and worship on Sunday. It was nice to wake up, get ready, and get to Sunday school without the 45-minute drive! Thank you, Fernita, for sharing the hospitality of Christmas with us!
By the time you read this, it will be Christmas Eve or later. And although this article is largely about Christmas, it is really about the day after, December 26th.
Back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we celebrated Christmas all the way to January 6, which was known by some as “Little Christmas.” You see, for many years, our friends and relatives in the Orthodox Christian churches celebrated the birth of Christ not on December 25, but in January. Therefore, our decorations at home stayed up at least until January 6, and sometimes later. If you are in Springfield the first week of 2010 and ride past my house, don’t be surprised to see my Christmas lights still blazing!
Many of you will read this article and, when you are done, might use it to wrap and pack your lovely ornaments until next year. The day after Christmas: When the decorations come down and life returns to normal. Yet, the point isn’t when you put your ornaments away, but rather, who you will celebrate once the nativity crèche is put away: each cow and sheep, each king and shepherd, and the blessed family. Once you close the box, who will be your God on the 26th?
After the lights are wound up and stored again. And after you put away all the bows and wrapping paper and the holiday dishes, the question remains: Who will you celebrate and worship and sing about on the 26th?
You see, it is my contention that we are all a little “romantic” about Christmas. The memories of our childhood, watching our children and grandchildren as they make new memories, these help carry us through the stress and hubbub leading up to Christmas. We sing carols, old and new, and tell the Christmas story. We might even get a little spiritual and attend church with our families. But the day passes, as quickly as it came, and the romance fades, and we find ourselves facing the stark winter months on an emotional low. Who will be your God even in the dark of winter?
When you rush out on Saturday morning to hit all the after-Christmas sales, will you still be singing about the babe in the manger and the One who came to save Israel and the nations? As you jostle in the lines and wearily carry home your prizes, will the peace of that “silent night” still be in your heart and mind? Who will be the God of the 26th and all the days following?
No matter what we sing this time of year, Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas Day, December 25. But He was born. And the magi didn’t come to the manger to see baby Jesus. It may have been a year or so later when they arrived, but they did come to see Him! And it wasn’t just about the shepherds and the angels, but the One who had come, not just from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but from heaven to earth. This One came from God, not just to be born in ignoble circumstances, but to grow in wisdom, to serve God, and to one day give His life for each of us, that we might be forgiven for our sins and restored to relationship with God.
Christmas isn’t just about the decorations and the “feelings” of the holidays. Christmas is about the coming of God into our lives, not just for a day or two, or for a month between November 26 and December 25, but for every day and every minute of our tiny, seemingly inconsequential lives. It is the coming of Christ that gives our lives meaning, not just the baby, but the resurrected Savior who welcomes us just as Joseph and Mary welcomed the smelly, poor, excited shepherds to the manger that night.
So as you take down your decorations, whether this week or in January like me, why not leave out one ornament to remind you of the beauty that is yours, not just during the “holiday” season, but every day? Each time you look at that ornament, remember the peace and joy and hope and love you experienced at Christmas, and then remind yourself that Christ didn’t come on just one day, but He came and walked this earth. And when Jesus returned to heaven in glory, God sent the Holy Spirit to walk with us, not just for one special day, but throughout our lives.
My prayer is that you and your family and friends will have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and blessed new year. May you find joy in each new day, reliving the glory and joy and love of Christmas on the 26th of December and on through 2010. By the way, one way to show who your God is on the 26th is to be in church on Sunday the 27th. Hope to see you there!
Mary Kay Glunt
Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian