When It’s Over, It’s Over?
I was driving home this evening from the south side of Indianapolis and I was amazed that although Christmas was only two days ago, I am already seeing evidence of it passing into the background for another year. People are outside taking down their holiday lights from the front of their homes; and the ribbons and bows so symbolic of the season are quickly disappearing.
I heard on the news that it is estimated that retailers did a record setting $495 billion in holiday sales, up from the estimates of $465 billion only several days ago. I think we have the commercial part of Christmas down cold. It’s the spiritual element that concerns me. And to cap it all off, yesterday, the day after Christmas, has now been dubbed Mega Monday and sales for the one day totalled more than $29 billion – that’s more than people bought on what has become known as Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving. So, even though it is only Tuesday, already sales are now plummeting and people are beginning to settle into the rhythm of the new year. How quickly we forget – Christmas is over and we are already heading back to the daily grind.
By the way, Janet and I are part of the rush to get things back to “normal” this year. Some of the decorations are already put away and I am working with my clients on final payrolls, and bonuses, for the end of the year. No, we haven’t forgotten about Christmas, but we are getting ready to leave for a few days, and several of our friends have already left on their post-Christmas vacations. It used to be that Christmas lasted a little longer, and I don’t know that Janet and I have ever started to take down decorations the day after Christmas. But from talking to some of you, we are not alone. It’s becoming more commonplace to put stuff away and get on with the other areas of our lives.
It kind of feels like Monday after church on Sunday. Know what I mean? On Sunday, you are so in the moment, and close to God, and never want that moment to end. Suddenly, it’s Monday morning and everything you learned in church stayed there, until you go back next week. Like what happened in church stayed in church. Now that’s not the way it is supposed to be. But then again, Christmas is something that we should remember all year long as well. It’s not like we have Christmas one day and then quickly put everything away and forget about the Savior of the world until next year. God is supposed to live in our hearts all day – every day.
So as we prepare for the new year, what can we do to preserve the spirit of Christmas – the celebration of the birth of Jesus? For starters, we can plan a daily devotion – quiet time with God each day to renew and strengthen our relationship with Him. Or we can decide to read the Bible more diligently – or attend a Bible study, or pray more. Or, for that matter, volunteer more, and increase our financial giving to those things that further the kingdom of God on this earth. All of these practices will help us to be drawn closer to our heavenly Father.
There are also what we call spiritual disciplines. Those are some of the pathways that people use to experience God in earnest. For example, the practice of solitude, or prayer, or silence, or corporate worship, or music, or even the observation of nature. All of these things draw us closer to the Creator, even though each of us may be moved by different elements of these spiritual pathways. Whatever you decide to do, please do it with diligence and perseverance.
The verse tonight is from the Old Testament. After all, Hanukkah, as well as Christmas, came several days ago. In the spirit of unity, the verse tonight is from Deut. 6:4-6, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” In other words, according to Moses, the author of Deuteronomy, we are to remember God throughout all the days of our lives. And while this verse was written to the Jewish nation, quite honestly, it is great advice for all of us.
My hope this evening is that you will be encouraged by the fact that God wants us to remember Him each day. And my prayer is that you will be committed to a deeper relationship with God in 2012. And even though that is still several days away, it’s not too early to plan how you intend to do that in the new year. Grace and peace…..