Putting Christmas away
You’ve probably spent at least part of the past weekend taking down your Christmas tree and maybe the other decorations you’ve spent the past month enjoying. In a way, you may be glad that Christmas is over.
I met a man who is from Tennessee
Don’t feel bad. I totally understand. I drive a delivery truck for the worlds biggest small package delivery company that has a close association with a specific color…brown. My December is spent answering the question “What do you want for Christmas?” by saying “I just want it to be over”.
That’s not a feeling that lasts, at least on my account.
Actually, I love Christmas. I’m all about the family stuff, the decorations, the food. I really enjoy it. The difference for me is the fact that Christmas boils down to one day. That’s it.
Pining for Christmas
There’s a feeling that comes after Christmas though, that’s often unexpected. After all of the wishing it would hurry up and leave, I’m left wishing Christmas would last a little longer.
Maybe you’ve experienced that? It may be that you would actually like to hang on to Christmas a little longer. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. A week or two after Christmas, we seem to miss the holiday like a long lost relative, a friendly ghost we wish would hang around.
What is it that we miss about Christmas?
It’s not the shopping. It’s probably not the commercialism. It’s something else.
What we miss about Christmas is what I call the aesthetics of Christmas.
There is an apologetic of the celebration of the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth that is more than the story. There is something about Christmas that even we evangelicals must admit is a little hard to put our theological fingers on. The Biblical narrative is the focus, and it should be, but there is something about the celebration that leaves us wanting, longing, hoping for more.
You don’t know what you got
An 80’s band, Cinderella (Apology for the hairband reference), had a song You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone.
The reminder of December’s festivities as it gives way to January is stark. The lights come down. The parties cease. The trees go away. The food goes bad. All of a sudden we realize we miss it.
We miss the beauty. We miss the fellowship. We miss the carols. Sometimes it’s only then that we realize just how precious Christmas really is. For some of us it’s only then that we realize how much the celebration is the story. The narrative demands the response and we want the response to continue indefinitely.
Looking back looking in
Look back. Think of how the beauty of Christmas made you feel. Think of what it made you feel.
Joy, love, and hope can’t be found in the things we miss about Christmas. They can’t be regained permanently by keeping the tree up longer or watching another Christmas movie. We can only wait until next Christmas.
There’s an apologetic in the emptiness just as there is in the wait. Christmas is a celebration of an event that has already occurred. The Christ has come as promised, but we can no longer see him, hear him, or touch him although we’ve experienced him really. We have seen his beauty. He has touched us greatly. But we want him fully because he has left us. It’s a longing within us that we can’t quite quench…for now.
We wait though. He’s coming back. In all of his glory, he will return. One day he will take away the longing and our faith will be our sight.
It will be a beautiful celebration that will be complete satisfaction. It will be a Christmas that never ends when we see Jesus again.
Real Christmas satisfaction
God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.-Jonathan Edwards
What a story!
Sometimes apologetics is technical, scientific, or philosophical. Sometimes it’s just communication of commonly experienced truth.
There is an aesthetic apologetic of Christmas. Don’t let it slip away unused.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3, ESV)
 Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.