As we close out this season we are (just as Mary and Joseph were when the wise men left) forced back into the real world. The twinkling lights get put away. The trees and wrapping are put out on the curb. The garland has dried out and the red and green are fading from the city. Carols are gone from stores and elevators and, maybe, from our spirits. We get back into the daily grind. Back to regular work and school schedules. And, if we aren’t careful, our sense of awe at God’s love for us might fade right along with the lights over Court Street.
We are, with the close of the Christmas season, being ushered back to reality. We’ve taken twelve days and then some to reflect on what it means that God came among us in the flesh. We’ve thought about why God came, incarnate in Jesus, to be born into the lowliest of circumstances. It’s like God choosing to be born to immigrant parents in Queens who can’t qualify for a Habitat house and struggle to keep the heat on in the winter. Why would God choose that? Hopefully, in these twelve days we’ve come to the conclusion that it is because those circumstances show us that there is no place God’s love can’t dwell. There is no person it cannot envelope. There is no space God’s love won’t go.
The wise men brought gifts symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth. The gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality. Jesus’ three pronged identity as royal, divine, and mortal threatened the existing power, and ultimately, the reigning way of life. Pray that Jesus continues to threaten our way of life beyond these twelve days of Christmas. Pray that this Christmas has shaken up our tendency toward existential dread, toward mundane attitudes, toward blindness of what God is doing. Pray that the wonder and awe of this season will not die with the lights and that we will continue into 2017 with a keen sense of God-with-us.
Jesus talks about having come so that we might have life and have it abundantly. As we move out of the Christmas season and into Epiphany, may we live as though life is a feast every day. May we recognize the table of goodness spread before us. May we see twinkling light in the eyes of our children, beauty in the morning sky, and the glow of our friends’ smiles. Above all, may we have life abundant because we love and are loved, so, so loved, by God.