Christmas time is (still here)

Yes, it's a new year (and maybe even a new decade, depending on who you talk to but that's a whole other post), but it STILL is Christmas time.  Because it IS still Christmas.  (Yes, I am serious.)

While we put up trees and start decorating in anticipation of Christmas PRIOR to December 24th (when you or I decide it is time to do so is totally up to our own sense of holiday), we are NOT in the Christmas season; we are in Advent. (Which is why I usually post something during the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas.  If you missed this year’s posts, here is your chance to read about HopePeaceJoy and Love. )  Technically (religiously?), Christmas does not start until December 25th (although, I'd kind of go with Christmas Eve as the holiday marker) and continues on until Epiphany (January 6th).  You know when the Wise Men show up at the manager.

This was made clearer to me on the Sunday after (the first day of) Christmas when I visited a chapel and noticed that the manager scene was not quite what I expected or what might be "traditional."  There was the manager proper with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, but the shepherd(s) were off to the side and the Wise Men (and their camel) were further back.  I liked it.  I was told that the Wise Men started further back in the room and were slowly making their way to the manger, where they would eventually be on Epiphany. 

 It makes complete sense!  Chronologically, the baby is born and the shepherds receive the news from the multitude of angels:  (From Luke) "So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made [f]widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."  The shepherds, even though they moved quickly (or came with haste), couldn't have gotten there instantaneously.  Did they get there the night that the baby was born?  Was it the next day?  The day after that?  How fast could these shepherds move?

Then, we get to the Wise Men:  (From Matthew)  "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 

"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

"So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”

"Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

"When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way."

How did these men hear about the child?  It wasn't posted on Facebook!  How did they reach him?  They didn't jump into their private jet and land outside the manager.  All of these things took time.  Perhaps it even took longer than the 12 days the Christian calendar gives us.

So what is my point? (Do I HAVE a point?)  While the birth of Jesus may take place in one day (and that day probably was not December 25th, but let's not get into that), the whole Christmas story does NOT take place in one magical day.  If we are to celebrate the miracle that is "Christmas" we should carry that spirit into New Year.  We should wish our friends a Merry Christmas not just on December 25th.  We need to hold onto that "Christmas feeling" and share it as the Shepherds and Wise Men did.  Not share it for one day...but for the days to come.


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