As a child, the day after Christmas was always the saddest day of the year for me. It seemed that a year filled with anticipation had ended almost as soon as it started. It wouldn’t be long before all the decorations would be put away and I would be back at school . . . counting down the days until next Christmas!
Today, I am a whole lot older and a little bit wiser. I’ve learned that Christmas is more than a single day to look forward to each year. Instead of living each day looking forward to that day, I live in the spirit of that day looking forward to each day. I live in the light of the truth Mary knew months before that first Christmas day:
Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55)
The Magnificat—or the Song of Mary, as it has also been called—should be the confession of all our lives. Mary sang the praises of her God because she knew who He was and what He had done for her. The eyes of her heart were fixed on her God and not on her circumstances.
You will remember Mary was not yet married to Joseph and was yet going to be with child. To be unwed and pregnant was not a good combination in that day. Mary would face shame and bitter accusation from all those she knew. Even Joseph wanted to remove her from his life. Total rejection was on the horizon for Mary, yet her response was to sing praises to her God.
So what does all this have to do with the day after Christmas? Everything! Mary kept her focus on the Giver of all her gifts, and that allowed her to rise above the challenges of daily living. When we do as she did—when we fix the eyes of our hearts on Jesus—we too can rise above the challenges of daily living and no longer be affected by the circumstances of life.
It really comes down to focus: what are we focused on? As a child, I was focused on Christmas day, not the Christ of Christmas. The event had me focused on the gifts I would be getting; the Emmanuel now has me focused on the Giver of every gift I have been given.
Regardless of where this finds you today, the key to joyful living is not only to keep Christ in Christmas, but in every day of the year. When He sits upon the throne of our lives, we begin living for something bigger than ourselves. Life becomes about the Savior rather than the self. Make no mistake, I still joyfully celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25, but now I experience the joy and power of His life, death, and resurrection every day of the year.
Now what? The “what” is one word: Jesus!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!