My grandmother spent days every November preparing food in her New Britain kitchen. The results were always wonderful—a table full of dishes of every color, piping hot with a glorious aroma that filled the house and beyond. Our Thanksgiving meals were delicious and filling, yet my grandmother, Adele, would typically lament that what took a week to prepare was consumed in a matter of 25 minutes.
Christmas isn’t over yet. It need not be the same with Christmas. You are reading this after Dec. 25, but we are still in Christmas—it lasts 12 days until Epiphany on Jan. 6. Remember the gold rings and the seven swans-a-swimming? Whether you may have taken down your Christmas tree or not, we are still in the season of Christmas—and I encourage you to keep celebrating. Do not allow a flurry of present opening to finalize the holy festivity. This isn’t about keeping to a church calendar, but rather celebrating the magnitude of the “reason-for-the-season.”
Angels came at night to share news of what God would do with shepherds living in pastures with their flocks, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12, N.I.V.) These words from a holy messenger speak to all the world of God coming to us and for us—and something else, too—God coming in vulnerability.
This is the gift of Christmas—an unconditional, gracious gift. For thousands of years God had shared love with humanity in many and various ways, yet now God comes to earth in the fleshy fragility of an infant that we might know God’s grace all the more. Instead of asking us to climb our way heavenward, complete a task list, or ensure we have been “good,” God instead comes to and has embraced us where we are. How very much is this worth celebrating? And sharing?
In these days of Christmas, keep rejoicing. Focus on presence over presents. Put down the electronics and play a game with family and friends. Combine that with reading a chapter or two from the Gospel of Luke each day. Volunteer to serve those in need in town or down the road. Sing. This is the season for carols—in the car, James Cordon style, around the kitchen table or reveling with friends out on the sidewalk.
Your song need not be “The Twelve Days of Christmas”—it annoys me, too! But do keep sharing the love of God come to us; our world needs it—and so might we.
Rev. Joshua D. Rinas is the pastor at the First Lutheran Church in Southington and a member of the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 628-9001.