Baxter is not much of a Christmas person. Aside from wanting to eat the tree, he usually ignores all the lights and decorations I use to mark the season. So taking down the tree, unplugging the lights, and packing away the ornaments and crèche figures seem to have no affect on Baxter’s disposition or routine. He goes about his day in the same way with or without these appointments. They make little difference to his outlook or life style.
For most of us though, taking down and packing away the signs of Christmas is a chore we would rather avoid. Preparing for the holiday is fun. We recall traditions that hold warm memories. We anticipate seeing friends and relatives whom we miss. We look forward to delicious foods and festive activities that we may indulge in only once a year. But then it is all over, and we pack it all away until next year with a sense of sadness and remorse. Too bad we can’t carry on Christmas throughout the year.
But we can. Although we place the signs of the season out of sight for eleven months, we don’t have to store away the reality behind these markers. God is with us. He comes to save us. His Word has become flesh, and so we can see God’s grace whenever human nature discloses a nobility and graciousness that reaches beyond the self-protective selfishness of its sin. These revelations of divine love decorate our lives and our world throughout the year, but we don’t acknowledge, use and cooperate with them. Their signs are not obvious in the news. The excitement they carry is often dulled by the drudgery of the daily routine. But they are there, decorating the human heart with openness, generosity, care and forgiveness. These lights are not added to our surroundings to brighten our world. They come from within us to enlighten us with insight into our problems and energy to work together to solve them. These are the light of Christ we carry always as baptized Christians.
So put away the trappings of the Christmas season until next year, but keep the meaning of this time alive by using its grace that we have been given each day. Baxter may not notice the difference, but we humans will. A world lit from within by God’s grace working through us creates a different place where we can all live better lives.