Did you know that contrary to much popular belief, the Twelve Days of Christmas are not the twelve days before Christmas? They are actually the twelve days from Christmas until Epiphany, January 6th.
And this makes me glad.
How we have all hustled and bustled and cleaned and baked and spent and wrapped to be ready for Christmas Day! Like a meal you prepare all day long, that gets consumed in about ten minutes flat, before we know it, that day we've fretted about, saved up for, sweated every small stuff, is gone in the twinkle of a tabletop Santa's eye.
Like a breath of fresh mountain air, like the sun on your skin on a hot summer day, like a drink of ice cold water to a parched tongue, today we can breathe. Go ahead and exhale.
But don't let Christmas go just yet. If we let it out of our grasp and our thoughts too soon, I think we may have let ourselves succumb to the world's view of Christmas. Chuck and I stopped into the local CVS on Christmas Day. Valentine's Day merchandise was already being put on the shelves. Christmas trees are out on the boulevards, tinsel blowing in the breeze. The wrapping paper hasn't even been picked up from the trash, but we are done. Ready to move on to the next thing.
Isn't that how we are? Always ready to move on to the next thing? We even pray that way, don't we? We ask. We receive. We briefly thank God for answering, then move on to the next thing.
But what if the next thing was to be still? To sit with a hot cup in the light of the Christmas tree and breathe it all in. Breathe Him in. The One who came. The One born in the fullness of time. The One whose birth we've supposedly just celebrated. What if, now that the hectic is over, we could really meditate on what it all means?
What if we could sing those songs and really listen to the words now, and mean them? What if we could open our Bibles, maybe for the first time, and read the age-old story of His coming. Word made flesh. God dwelling with man. God with us. God with me.
Oh, don't you think we need this?
In a minute, or so it seems, we will hang our calendar and a new year will begin. A new year that holds only Heaven knows what. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Trouble will surely come. There will be moments of unbridled joy, mixed with moments of gut-wrenching grief. There will be days ahead, 365 of them, full of life. Good times and bad times. Sun and warm breezes and rain and torrential storms.
We will need to be filled for the journey. We will need minds renewed, hearts restored, spirits revived.
I will need this for the days ahead.
For the days when it will all seem impossible, I will need to be filled with the story of the virgin, giving birth to the Son of God, to remind me that miracles really do happen!
For the days when I stumble and fall and feel worthless, like I just can't get it all right, I will need to be filled with the truth of His journey. Wooden manger turned blood-stained Cross. Forgiveness for me.
When I walk through the valley of the shadow, I will need to be filled with the truth of the Resurrection, that nothing is utterly dead until God says it's utterly dead.
I don't know about you, but I need to hold on to this. I need to not ever let it go. I need to hold on for dear life to the One who was born. To die. For me.
So go grab that hot cup, and hear Him say,
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls."