Christmas at my house has a shelf life of about two days. Christmas day is full of excitement, as our young children are often out of bed and bubbling over with excitement around 4:30am (new rule: no waking up mom and dad before 6:30am, or there will be no presents!). The present opening tends to take a couple of hours, interspersed with breakfast, snacks, and pictures. Once the present are all opened the kids become singularly focused on their new toys and games. By about noon on December 27th, however, the new “stuff” has lost its excitement and newness, and the children are back to constantly uttering their two favorite phrases “I’m bored” and “there is nothing to do!” Yep, the joy of that Christmas morning seems to last only about 48 hours before it loses all significance.
That begs the following questions: what is shelf-life of the joy of Christmas in our lives? How long is it before the significance of Christmas is replaced by our worldly wants and concerns? There is a story in scripture that does a great job addressing these questions. It happens eight days after Jesus is born. Now, put yourself in the shoes of Mary and Joseph for a moment. All of these amazing things happen in a short period of time: angels appear to them, they have this crazy journey to Bethlehem (including giving birth in a barn), random shepherds show up, more angels appear, and they now have the Son of God as their son. Now THAT’S a Christmas! Yet, eight days later, you have to wonder whether or not the wonder of it all has given way to the stress of raising a baby. And so it is that Mary and Joseph fulfill their religious duty and bring their eight day old to the Temple. There they encounter two different people, Simeon and Anna, who explain to them how significant their son really is. You can read the whole account in Luke 2:25-40, but let me give you the highlights. These are three ways in which Simeon and Anna point out the significant Christmas should have to all of us every single day.
- Jesus gives us salvation: Jesus came on Christmas not simply to teach us, but to save us for all eternity. Without Christmas we would be headed for death and hell, but because God came to us in that stable we may have life everlasting!
- Jesus provides guidance for our decisions: Because God came to earth in the form of Jesus we have received MASSIVE amounts of advice and guidance direct from God. What a significant treasure that is, and one we need to do a better job of listening to.
- Jesus changes our worldview: Jesus didn’t come for just a few believers, but for the entire world. This should challenge us to think beyond ourselves and our churches, and to think about those who need Christ throughout our world.
This year, lets not allow the joy of Christmas to be a 48 hour thing, but rather, something we celebrate and remember all year long.