Returned: 1. To go or come back, as to an earlier condition or place. 2. Something exchanged for that received.
“When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” (Luke 2:39-40)
Christmas is over. Carols were sung. “Carols by Candlelight” was watched on Christmas Eve. Jesus’ birth was celebrated. Presents were opened. Too much turkey and ham and Christmas pudding and chocolate was consumed. Family was visited. Now rubbish bins are stuffed to overflowing with wrapping paper and ribbons. The only reminder that Christmas was ever here.
Christmas is over. Just like that. One minute there is frenzied activity as people flood the shops in search of that elusive ‘perfect’ present and stock up on food as though the supermarkets won’t be open for another week. Then it’s all over. Boxing Day comes. For some that means repeating Christmas Day all over again with the “in-laws” or braving the crowds at 5am to be the first to get through the doors of Myer for the famous Boxing Day sales. For others it means cricket with the start of the Boxing Day Test match. For others it means heading to the beach with friends. Or just sleeping. Or returning to work. Or running off those extra kilograms!
Christmas is over. And before I know it, the “12 days of Christmas” will be over and it will be time for me to box up the nativity set, the Christmas tree, the tinsel, the baubles, the lights, the wreath and all the other Christmas trimmings and store them in the cupboard until next year.
Christmas might be over, but when does Christmas really end?
Does it end when the Christmas music stops playing in the shops? Does it end when I stop thinking about those less fortunate than me? Does it end when I go back to work? When I return to my usual activities and routines? Or does it end when I no longer kneel in wonder at the presence of God in my life? When I forget to be awestruck at the name of Jesus? Does it end when my Christmas ‘spirit’ is boxed up alongside the tinsel? Gone as quickly as it came.
This year I was so conscious of intentionally making Jesus the ‘Reason for the season’ and keeping Christ in my Christmas that as I box up Christmas for 2013 and reflect on what this Christmas has meant to me, I don’t want to return Christmas like an unwanted gift. I don’t want to put Jesus back into the box like He is merely one little piece of my nativity set.
Christmas isn’t just a day. Christmas is an experience that can last a lifetime, if I allow it. The Bible says that after Jesus was born, everything went back to normal. And yet after Jesus was born, nothing would ever be the same again. The shepherds and wise men left, returning from where they came, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20) and Mary and Joseph carried their newborn baby back with them and got on with life. A life that would never return to the way it was.
The best thing about Christmas for me is this: Jesus cannot be returned. There is no refund policy on this gift God has given me. Unlike returning presents because they don’t fit, they don’t suit, they aren’t what I ‘want’ or I just don’t like them, need them or think I will ever use them, Jesus cannot be sent back. I can’t swap Jesus for another bigger, better, more expensive present. And no matter whether I choose to walk away from Jesus or refuse to acknowledge Him or accept Him, God will never take back what He has given me. He has given me a gift this Christmas and my life will never return to normal as I treasure this gift in my heart every day.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” (Scrooge)
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