The few days right after Christmas are always a little weird for me. I usually have spent weeks thinking about and getting ready for the big day. Christmas comes and we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ with gifts, feasts, singing and rejoicing. Then we wake up the next day and all the packages are gone, the meals have been eaten, the naps have been taken, and I find myself wishing we could do it all again. But we can’t and life moves on.
It makes me wonder about Mary and Joseph and what they were thinking the next day. What did Mary do when she had finished pondering? What did she do after the shepherds left and things quieted down and they found themselves alone with this new baby far from their home? Did they wish to re-live the day of Jesus birth? I’m sure Mary had mixed feelings.
Why is it that we want to dwell on Christmas –- to prolong it? Is it just that we don’t want to go back to work? Is it that we are trying to comprehend the idea of God becoming man? Is it that maybe we like this baby Jesus more than the Jesus of the cross?
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve heard lot of talk about Jesus over the last week. I find it a little strange that people who don’t ever seem to think about Jesus have no problem talking about him and singing songs about him during Christmas. This morning I was thinking about why this is, and a scene from a movie came to mind. In an amazing moment of revelation, Talladega Nights opened my eyes to why people who don’t follow Christ celebrate Christmas. I realized a lot of us are like Ricky Bobby. We love baby Jesus, cuddled up in a manger, surrounded by shepherds and angels. I mean after all who doesn’t love baby Jesus, except for that Herod guy and maybe the ACLU? Baby Jesus doesn’t ask much of us, he just lies there and allows us to worship him for a little while and walk away much like the shepherds.
But there is a problem with this. After the birth, after all the people left that little baby changed. Life moved on and he grew up. Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Mary’s little boy grew up and he became a man. And the grown up Jesus doesn’t allow us to come and worship for a few minutes and walk away. He asks much more of us than the Baby Jesus. He says things like “come, follow me”, “if you love me, obey what I’ve said”, “leave your father and mother”, “if you lose your life, you will gain it”, and “take up your cross and follow me”. Worshipping this Jesus is way more involved than staring at a manger or singing some songs, it is about walking with him and becoming more like him.
So we are left with a decision. We can continue to worship the Baby Jesus and as the holidays wind down we can walk away from Him and go back to the life we were living. Or, we can recognize that he is no longer the baby in the manger. That he bids us to come and walk with him, to take a journey that will not allow us to go back to where we were before. I am on that journey and want to encourage you that though there are bumpy spots along the road, the journey is worth it. If you are also wandering along, perhaps we can walk this part together. If you aren’t on that journey yet, I ask you to join us and take the first step. There’s always room on the trail.
I’ve found that it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Where are you on the journey?