Stop for a minute.
Yes, Christmas Day is now over, but don’t hurry to box up the ornaments and purge the regalia from your home!
Recently on December 26 a national morning show featured an “expert” happily talking about packing away decorations and properly disposing of your Christmas tree. “It’s time to move on” was the message.
But I want to suggest a different message.
Before you move on from Christmas, take time to savor the hope and joy of the message, to savor the meaning of that miraculous moment in time when Christ came to live on earth.
The word savor is often associated with a fine meal and it means letting food linger on your palate so you can fully enjoy the flavors. Meditate might be an appropriate synonym for savor in the spiritual realm. Another synonym is ponder.
In liturgical churches such as Anglican, Episcopalian, Catholic and some more traditional Protestant churches, Christmas is celebrated for 12 days from December 25 through January 6. Sadly, by then most of us are weary of the perpetual commercial messages promoting shallow cheer because we’ve been inundated with seasonal merchandise and music since before Thanksgiving.
The real message and truth of this annual season is worthy to be savored. Now that the false Christmas content has ceased, it’s an opportunity for true disciples of Jesus to savor His arrival in our darkened world.
Letting the moments of remembering Christ’s birth linger allows the stupendous meaning of this pivotal event to settle more deeply in our souls.
So I hope you will join me in slowing down this week. Allow the true message to linger longer. Keep the Christmas music playing. Allow the lights and the sparkle to remind you for a few more days that the Light of the World has come and most importantly will come again!
Here are a few ways to savor the wonder that Jesus set aside His heavenly world and chose to become a tiny cell, to live inside Mary’s womb, to be born into our sin-ridden broken world all so He could bear the weight of our sins on the cross to set us free.
1. Fast from shopping and sales and as many commercial and consumerist activities as possible. Wait to do all your returns for at least a few days. The lines will be shorter if you do.
2. Evaluate your décor and find things you can leave up for a while longer. I keep out all my bottle brush trees into January because they are more wintry than they are Christmasy.
3. Keep twinkle lights up or find new places to use them for the month of January. Christmas lights can remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. There is no reason to take them down yet, especially the clear or white ones because again they remind us of who Jesus is in our dark world.
4. Play the great Christmas hymns of our faith for this entire week. Probably you haven’t heard enough of them since they are no longer played in stores or other public places as they once were. The lyrics and melody of many are biblically accurate and cement truth in our hearts with their tunes.
5. Intentionally guide your family in a daily meditation or prayer—at a meal, bedtime or at an appointed time of your choice around the fireplace. When we choose to lead our family it gives the Spirit an opportunity to plant seeds of faith in hearts. Planning this time for a week will give space for each of you to savor the Savior. Below is a five-day series with quotes and thoughts that are all focused on Jesus as the Light of the World.
Read out loud:
The Christmas story didn’t begin with the Christ child in the manger. And it doesn’t end there either. The disciple Peter declared in his first sermon in Acts 2:23 that all of Jesus’ life and death was according to the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.”
Therefore, light isn’t diminished when we put away all the Christmas lights and candles. Christmas Day is the celebration of Jesus’ birth which began His work of redeeming us from our sin so that we might know eternal life with God. Even now as He is in heaven at the right hand of God, He continues to work driving out the darkness in our hearts and making all things new as He changes lives by the power of His Spirit.
As the people of God we share His work bringing His light into this dark world. Talk about these thoughts and pray as a family for His continued work in all of your hearts.
Read this verse out loud:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1
Pray this prayer: “Almighty God, You have poured upon us the new light of Your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” (From the Book of Common Prayer)
Read these words from Jesus out loud:
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send Your Holy Spirit upon us” as we seek to savor Your arrival as the Light of the World in our lives. “We who are anxious over many things look forward to Your coming” again one day. “We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of Your presence.” Thank You that You are with us. Now. Here. Always. Amen.*
Today take a little more time and look up these verses that tell us more about Jesus as the Light. As you find them read them out loud to one another.
What do these passages tell us about who Jesus is?
- John 1:4 (the light of men)
- John 9:5 (the Light of the World)
- Hebrews 1:3 (the light/radiance of the face of God’s glory)
- Revelation 22:16 (the Bright Morning Star)
- Revelation 21:22-27 (the lamp light of the city)
What do the following passages tell us about who Christians are?
- John 12:36 (children of light)
- 1 Peter 2:9 (called into God’s light)
- Daniel 12:3 (shining lights)
- Romans 13:12 (to put on the armor of light)
- John 12:36 (to believe in the true Light)
Pray this prayer: “Glorious light and life of my soul! Continue Your sweet influence morning by morning, at dawn, and during the evening star of Your grace. Continue until, after many wintry days of my blindness, ignorance, and senseless state, You may renew me in the precious discoveries of Your love.” (A Puritan Prayer)
Read this short quote out loud and talk about what this might mean in your life:
“The real Christmas gift is learning to hum hope, learning to dance the divine.” Joan Chittister
Pray that God will teach you to hum hope and dance every day with the divine God who is with you and never leaves you. This is how we savor the Savior in these days and all year long!
May you and yours savor the Savior a little longer this season!
*In this prayer, the sections in quotes are by Henri Nouwen.