It’s the day after Christmas. All of the suspense, all of the waiting, all of the wishing is finished. Long hours of practicing for Christmas cantatas are over. Christmas cards, the Christmas tree, and Christmas lights are all put into boxes for the following year. We resume our lives as if a miracle has not just occurred.
Let’s flash back to that second day after Jesus’s birth. It is our Christian historical understanding that all of the excitement did not just end with one day. Many scholars believe that the wise men arrived around the time Jesus was about 2 years old. By that time He would have been a toddler, getting into everything, having a few more teeth and imaginably a nice crop of hair. He would likely already have been walking. Perhaps playing with a few of his favourite wooden toys handcrafted by His adoptive father while His parents visited with the wise men over a cup of tea. We also know that the first few years of Jesus’s life were quite tumultuous. His young parents, still newly married and with a young child had to flee because of the ruling Monarch, Herod, who became jealous of the new king and wanted to kill all of the baby boys under two years of age.
But yet, let’s put away what we know of the next two years of Jesus’s life for a minute and let’s look at the Christmas story as if it is our first time hearing about it. How do you think Mary and Joseph would have felt on the second day of Jesus’s birth? Were they relieved that their guests were gone and they could have some quiet time as a family to adjust to their new demands as parents? Did they wish the shepherds and angels would have stayed? Were they fearful – not sure of what raising this God Man would be like?
We’ve put away our Christmas cards and opened all of our gifts, but this is not the end of the story. We are only just beginning to journey with Jesus through His short life on this earth. We are only just beginning to see the glory unravelled before our eyes. Just a few days from now when Jesus is 8 years old He will be dedicated to God at the Temple just like all of the other little boys of His time. He will be given to God and His service. Anna and Simeon, two elderly people who have spent their lifetime waiting for Him will rejoice and declare that they are now able to die in peace because they have seen the greatest gift of this world.
Christ came as a baby so that we can find our fullest potential in God. Now as He grows, let’s also grow. Let’s grow in love, in faith, and in patience. Let’s not stop with His birth, but let’s live it out every day in our hearts and in our lives.
Today is also a special day in the church. It is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stephen was a man who did not stop at the birth of Christ, no, that was not enough for him. He lived it out constantly, even when it cost him his own life. Many years later, Wenceslas also followed in Christ’s footsteps – not stopping with the birth, but living out the passion daily. Although the facts and legends about Wenceslas are often blurred, he was a real man and like Stephen, he was a martyr.
This Christmas season I have been researching the historiography of many old-fashion Christmas songs. One of the ones I was most struck by was Good King Wenceslas which tells the story of a Monarch who left his high and lofty position in order to help a peasant. That’s exactly what Christ did! He left His throne of glory and descended to this earth. A God among the mortals – who has ever heard of such a thing? It’s pure nonsense. He did it for us. He did it because of His magnificent love.
There is one line in the song that I always love to repeat, “Therefore every man be sure wealth or rank possessing, ye who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.” What a great way to keep living out the Christmas season in our hearts regardless of the time of year. As the season is wrapping up, let’s remember to bless the poor, to come down from our high and lofty positions and spend time with the less fortunate and those whom society deems as useless. Only then do we keep Christ in our hearts. Only then does the fire of the Christmas bush always keep burning.
Never heard the song before? Check out this rendition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKVU8BoKLMQ