The Christmas story of the Bible remains one of the world’s most cherished stories for more than one-third of the world’s population. Those of us who celebrate the birth of Jesus reflect upon its meaning, using the day as a reminder of God’s plan and purpose to bring the world back into relationship with him by sending is Son. It is far too easy for many of us to revel in the birth of the child and forget that God expects more from us.
What do we do after we read that beautiful story for the last time this year? After we snuff out the Advent candles? After we sing the last carol? After we dismantle the Nativity scenes? What change does it bring to our lives? What do we do after we celebrate the birth of the Christ child?
The Christmas story does not end with the birth of Jesus. Once the baby is born, the story and its impact should serve as a catalyst for God’s power in our lives. What should we do when Christmas is over? We need look no farther than the scripture recorded in Luke 2.
Consider the Parents. The baby promised by the angel was born under those most unusual circumstances , but afterwards, the new family settled into a routine in Bethlehem, awed daily by the presence of the baby Mary and Joseph held in her arms. Six weeks after baby is born the parents take Jesus five miles to Jerusalem at the required time of purification, commending their first born son to the service of God.
In this we learn our first lesson of Christmas. Joseph and Mary ensured that Jesus started out on the right foot by dedicating him to God from the beginning, the start of a process of “training him up in the way he should go.” So, after we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is a time of recommitting ourselves to God’s service, repaying him for the greatest gift we will ever receive by dedicating ourselves to his will and way. Rededicating ourselves to the worship of our Father.
Consider Simeon. This “devout and righteous” man of God had been told by the Holy Spirit that the Messiah would come during his lifetime. As he entered the Temple and stumbled upon the purification ceremony for this little baby boy, he knew in his heart that he was looking at the one God had sent to bring salvation to the world. His response was simple (Luke 2:28)…
“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.”
As Simeon holds on the God’s Son, we experience our second lesson of the season. The days after Christmas ought to be a time when we embrace God’s Son and declare our praise to God for the salvation he offers, not just on that day, but every day. Give him the proper place of prominence in our lives. Hold on to him during the good and difficult times as the sources of our strength.
Consider Anna. This elderly widow worshiped at the Temple day and night, devoting her life to God. Her love for God evident to those who entered the Temple court. Heard her prayers. Listened to her proclaim truth she had been taught. On the day of purification, she was drawn to the young couple holding a little boy. As she heard their story and listened to Simeon’s pronouncement, she believed with all her heart that the child before her was the Messiah. Luke 2:36-36 tells us what she did…
“She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Anna’s lesson is a reminder that we are to be so thankful for the presence of Jesus that we bear witness to those around us of his saving grace, giving testimony to the difference he has made in our lives. Serving him with faithfulness no matter where we live. No matter what we do. To be God’s voice. God’s hands. God’s heart in a troubled world.
Consider Jesus. Born to human parents, but also divine. God’s Son. It’s a hard concept to grasp. So much of it we accept by faith. Jesus may have been born with God’s DNA, but understand the full measure of what it meant to be Savior did not come instinctively. He learned. When he turned 12-years-old, Jesus journeyed to the Temple with his parents. Look at Luke 2:41-52, where we find Jesus…
“spending his time sitting among the teachers, studying scripture and asking questions…” Learning more about “his Father’s business.” Eventually, he returned with his parents to Nazareth where…“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”
Understanding our relationship to God and his will for our lives is not implanted naturally into our DNA just because we are born to Christian parents or attend church regularly. Our understanding of what God requires of us comes from following Jesus’ lead. We learn. We grow. We “spend time sitting among the teachers, studying scripture and asking questions.” In the end, our desire is to grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.
Christmas ends. When that last Nativity gets put in its box and stacked in the closet, we can forget its meaning and live our lives ignoring the demands of discipleship, or we can…
Consider the Parents. Commit ourselves and our lives to God. Every hour. Each day.
Consider Simeon. Embrace the Son, not just for the holidays, but each and every day. Praise God for sending his Son as our Savior.
Consider Anna. Give thanks for God’s goodness and bearing witness to all we encounter about everything he has given to us.
Consider Jesus. Live as he lived, growing in our understanding of God’s will for our lives and putting into practice all God reveals to us each day.
There is life after Christmas. As we approach the New Year and its resolutions, let’s recognize that Christmas never ends. Rather, it stands as a time of recommitment and rededication as we pursue life worth living.
May you and your family enjoy all of God’s grace and wisdom in the year to come.