When I was a kid, I would say the holidays are not over til the 3rd of January because that was the day after my birthday. And in years gone by they really were not over til the 7th of January, the day after my sister-in-law’s birthday, with the 6th being the Epiphany. But here in the States there is an abrupt halt on December 26th. Christmas is done. (some are saying “yes, finally, it is over.”)
But I’ve been thinking about The Incarnation. God the Son took on human flesh, became a man. Only 1 day of celebration?! But we have to get back to work, we’ve got to hit the after Christmas sales. God has come down and became like one of us. We’ve got to figure out what we are going to do for the rest of the, “Winter Holidays” vacation with the kids, the office parties are over, we are done. The Son left His Home with the Father, humbled himself, was born of a woman.
It is nuts, right? God lowered himself to become like us. It was the only way. It was the plan all along. God would rescue us through His Son. Rescue us from sin and death, but that is not all. There is more. We would be given New Life. A spiritual life that knows no end. It starts here in our life, for some of us when we are young, for others in the middle of life, for some near the end. Jesus called it Abundant Life. It is in the Gospel of John the 10th chapter where Jesus is sharing this with the Jews. In the ESV Study Bible notes this is what it states about this living abundantly: “Jesus calls his followers, not to a dour, lifeless, miserable existence that squashes human potential, but to a rich, full, joyful life, one overflowing with meaningful activities under the personal favor and blessing of God and in continual fellowship with his people.”
Which of us wants to live without meaning, purpose, and joy? Okay, maybe some people don’t care, they are just going to put their heads down and live another day. Most people want to get something out of this life. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes, says, “everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind,” but in the end he states, “Fear God and keep his commandments.” This is not to burden us with a load of care, but to free us to love because we are loved. These “commandments” are more or less, pleasant boundaries laid out by the Father. Like we lay out for our children,”don’t touch the hot stove it will burn,” “be kind, don’t hit your sister (later it may lead to lethal force,)” and “share with your brother, because it is more blessed to give then receive.” Then we take it a bit further when we start giving our children responsibilities. Teaching them to make their beds, and give them household chores not for cash but for being a member of the household, learning to care for themselves and others.
So, the Creator, became one of the created. Crazy?! Yes, on its face it sounds crazy. Without spiritual eyes to see, it is crazy. But if I stop and think about it. If I was God and the people just were not getting it through other means, The Prophets, then would it not make sense to appear as one of them? Timothy doubted after the resurrection but then he came face to face with Jesus whom he walked, lived, and ate with, who died and then was physically alive again. Jesus is ALIVE. We remember that he was born of a woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit (which is a mystery!), and born, but often the celebration ends there.
So, I wonder what would it be like to be into the 6th day of celebrating Emmanuel, God with us, King of the Universe, enters the world in the usual way, in order to Rescue us from ourselves?
I started reading a little bit about these 12 days of Christmas. The ones that for me have been basically lost in a Christmas Carol. One place I read it talks about how this song carried a catechism for young Catholics who could not practice their faith openly in England from 1558 to 1829. On the sixth day, the six geese a laying, represented the six days of Creation. In another place the sixth day is not acquainted with a feast but leads up to the Feast of Fools to be celebrated on January 1st. Personally, I think most of the fools come out the night before, but I digress. 😉
There is so much to celebrate. Jesus broke through the silence, 400 years of silence according to Judeo-Christian history. It was through the helpless cry of a new-born baby that he broke the silence. Not what most of those waiting for Messiah expected.
Jesus stayed behind in the temple and not quite a man was found with the Teachers.
Jesus worked with his hands.
Jesus ate and drank with sinners.
Jesus stayed the course.
Jesus delighted in children. (I imagine with much Laughter)
Jesus was baptized and baptized others.
Jesus was true to His Father.
Jesus proclaimed His Kingdom.
Jesus embodied JOY!