Scraps of paper still litter the living room rug. Bits of tape still adhere to the couch, and the carcasses of cardboard boxes are piled up next to the tree and out on the porch. Leftover ham has found its way into the last 3 days of meals, and cheesecake keeps finding its way to my mouth. The lower 1/3 of our Christmas tree is bare of ornaments as the toddler in the house has stripped it clean and reallocated the decorations to different areas of the home. These are the remnants of a festive and fun Christmas.
We haven’t done much since Christmas day, other than taking our children to see “Frozen.” (Yes, folks, it is just as good the second time around!) It has been a time of relaxation and (relative) quiet as the children play with their new toys and games. The excitement of the Christmas season is over, and the days are returning to the ordinary. No longer does the UPS man stop at our house on a daily basis. No longer do we find Christmas cards in the mail (well, maybe a few, from those stragglers who got theirs out late!). The real world has re-entered our lives as the children begin to fight over those new toys. As the dishes in the sink pile up. As the bits of paper and tape and glitter from the wrappings seem to keep reappearing, no matter how many times I vacuum. As exhaustion creeps in after weeks of running ragged. As the radiator in the car has sprung a leak and we now need to squirrel together the funds to replace it. Yes, this is the real world. A world filled with poverty, with problems, with grief and despair, anger and rejection. THIS is the broken and dark world that the Christ child entered into so many years ago.
We have moved on from the excitement of Christmas. But shouldn’t the excitement be for the days AFTER Christmas?? Excitement with the realization that the Light of the world has broken through the darkness. From a dark womb, into a dark night, Emmanuel, God with us, has arrived into this world, bringing the light of Heaven with Him. A savior. This is where our true excitement should be. Not the wrappings and trappings of this world, but the realization of the next. The realization that we have been set free. Free from the “wages of sin, which is death.” Free to receive the “gift of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) This is what our focus should be on, where our excitement should lie.
I am a failure in this. I get so caught up in the day-to-day, in the ordinary, that I miss out on the extraordinary, the heavenly. Caught up in the fragments of daily living, I miss seeing the picture of wholeness and fullness that the Father has in store for us. Submerged in the mire of this world, I lose sight of my freedom, my redemption.
My sight is restored, however, through His grace and mercy. There are moments, glimpses of heaven. I see it in my children’s faces, as we pack shoeboxes to send across the world, or as we say our nightly prayers. Listening to their earnest prayers for others cause me to pause, and reflect on our blessings. Going for a hike in the woods, and seeing the splendor of creation. Having deep discussions of faith, mercy, and hope with others, even when our points of view differ, but still able to listen to one another with love. Watching a bubble shimmer with all the radiance of heaven’s colors. Pausing to just drink in the moment, the air, the life, I have been blessed with. These are the moments when I see the extraordinary, even within the ordinary.
As we are about to usher in a new year, THIS is the season for excitement, renewal, refreshment. As we recover from all of our holiday madness, it is perhaps time to pause to reflect on the extraordinary wonder of the light which has overcome the darkness. To become excited about the greatest gift we have ever been given. The Light of the world, shining in the darkest of places, extraordinary even in the ordinary. This is what we cling to, what gives us hope, what shows the fulfillment of the promises made in Scripture.