Twelve or so days of Christmas

Published 4:36 pm Saturday, December 29, 2018

by Nathan Decker

“Christmas is like candy; it slowly melts in your mouth sweetening every taste bud, making you wish it could last forever.”
– Richelle Goodrich

The studies are in, and it is true. People are nicer at Christmas. We smile more, we laugh more. We make a little extra effort to be cheerful. We are more generous than usual and maybe even than we’re capable. For a short while in between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25, the cold isn’t reflected in our hearts and the longer nights don’t necessarily mean darkness is winning.

But then Dec. 26 comes. The Scrooge of Christmas returns grumbles in the long line at customer service desk. The Grinch of After-Christmas-Sales sneers at the carts of those who came earlier snatching trees and lights we had our eyes and hopes set upon for next year. Somewhere, somehow, the soul of Christmas sours, and we all begin to ask, “Why can’t it be Christmas year-round?” “How come we can’t be nice like we are at Christmas all the time?”

The word Holiday comes from Holy-Day. We take a day and set it apart from the rest. We make it something more — Holy. In faith, we do this all the time. We set aside spaces (sanctuaries). We set aside people (ordination). We even set aside food (communion) and water (when water is set apart for baptism it becomes holy water, Batman!) Setting something apart for a special purpose creates a uniqueness that invites transformation in our lives. 

Perhaps this is why we can’t seem to have Christmas year round. But what if we tried setting apart more than just days, spaces, preachers and seasons? What if we truly set apart our hearts, our essence, our lives? Holiness means being holy as in set a part, different, and unique. Christ’s coming at Christmas invites all the world to experience an epiphany that we could receive this light into our lives not just on Dec. 25, but throughout eternity.

Impossible? Well, yes, but a lot of impossible happens at Christmas. Mary tries to give God a biology lesson in reproduction. It doesn’t work without a man. Joseph tells God shotgun weddings aren’t in season. The Innkeeper says there’s no room for Jesus. And the Gentiles were left out in the cold when it came to hearing God’s glorious good news of salvation to the Jews. 

“Nothing is impossible with God.” A virgin gives birth. Joseph follows what God says instead of what makes sense. There is room in the stable. Wise men from the East — GENTILES! — come and worship and experience Emmanuel.

The impossible can happen. Christmas can last longer if we want it, if we seek it, if we continue following yonder star. Set apart your life for God. Give God the gift of all that you are, and find you receive the presence of peace, hope, joy, and love year-round. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
– Matthew 2:1-2

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.