December 26th. The day after Christmas. The presents unwrapped. The turkey eaten. The day we spend a month preparing for is over.
It was a quiet Christmas here at the Willcock house. I wasn’t sure I’d like it quiet. (Quiet being a relative term with two boys in the house, nerf guns and assorted superhero gear!) Mark’s parents were away and my parents have our family Christmas on a later day. It ended up being perfect. I haven’t been feeling particularly Christmassy this season. The boys have been sick and have been battling a particularly nasty skin infection that keeps occurring. The infections are boil-like and painful. Another round occurred late last week.
I’ve also been remembering my brother’s dog, Reno from my childhood. I was eight and we looked after him one fall while my brother worked up north. Reno was still a pup. A Doberman but my brother had not gotten his ears clipped. He was a beautiful dog. He was a great dog. I LOVED that dog. I spent hours outside with him. He loved to jump up on you and lick your face. Even as a pup, he was big! I taught him to sit as I approached. I would come home from school and he’d be waiting for me. He’d sit. You could see he really wanted to jump but he’d sit and let me come and pet him. That Christmas my brother came home. He took Reno out for a run on Christmas night and the dog was hit by a truck. We were all devastated.
I haven’t really been interested in dogs since. Until the last couple of years. Boys need a dog. So we’ve been THINKING about getting a dog. Maybe that’s why I’m remembering Reno.
I realize that many people are suffering through a death of a loved one or sickness. Or any number of awful things. A memory of a dog may not be a big deal. But I loved him and then he was gone. It still hurt. People still hurt on the holidays. Christmas makes the pain more palatable. Hollywood likes to make the Christmas season all magical and perfect. Up against our expectations for a festive season, our pain and suffering becomes more pronounced. It seems politically incorrect to not be feeling the Christmas spirit. But how many people feel let down on December 26th? I think more than would like to admit it. But you know what? It’s.ok.
Christmas is more than one day. Christmas lasts all year. Because the babe born in the manger grew up to be a man who lived out a radical ministry. He changed people and their lives. It’s more than the Christmas story. When Jesus was just thirty-three, he died on a cross to change our doomed existence. It’s the Easter story too. But in between there was a life lived that loved people that were excluded from society. He was best friends with fishermen. They weren’t considered a stellar part of society either. He healed the physically, emotionally and mentally ill. He associated with harlots and tax collectors. He blew up the rules of the Pharisees and religious leaders to show us truth and love. He came to earth for all of us. Those who felt they didn’t need him and for those who felt they were desperate for him. He came because he loved us and he wanted to heal us and save us from ourselves.
The spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners, to announce the year when the LORD will show his favor, the day when our God will seek vengeance, to console all who mourn, to strengthen those who mourn in Zion, by giving them a turban, instead of ashes, oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning, a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement. They will be called oaks of righteousness, trees planted by the LORD to reveal his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 The NET Bible
The year of the Lord’s favour. As we head into the last week of December and into 2014 my prayer is to walk out these verses. Life brings both good and bad. As we walk the paths of life, whether in mourning, discouragement or with broken hearts, OR in good times, we don’t walk alone. Jesus is beside us and he enables us to walk strengthened, joyful and full of praise, in ALL circumstances. He came to earth as a babe to live life as a human. There isn’t one emotion, temptation or situation that he doesn’t understand. That is the greatest part of this gift. The baby born didn’t just disappear into oblivion but lived a life that changed the world and then he died to give us eternal life.
I’m so thankful that Christmas is way more than just a day on the calendar. Christmas is a lifetime lived out.