It’s three days after Christmas and my tree is still up. This is not how I do the holidays. The tree always comes down and all Christmas decorations are packed up and put away by sundown on December 26th. I like things neat and orderly and ready for the new year. But it’s three days after Christmas and my thoughts are still consumed with that holiest of nights.
I realize that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. I’ve done my research and found that no one really knows the exact date for sure but we can make some educated guesses. I’ve read about the pagan holidays and rituals and how so many of them are used in traditional Christmas celebrations today. And I gotta say, I love how we made a celebration of Jesus out of something that the world intended to be a celebration of something entirely different. For millions of people, for my family and for me Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. A Savior that is concerned about the condition of my heart. But it is three days after Christmas and my big ol’ tree is still decorated with Jesus ornaments and I can’t take it down yet because there’s so much left to say.
I’m thinking about that day (whatever the date may be) and what it may have been like. There are some things that I can easily imagine. I can imagine the pain of childbirth and the terror felt by a new mom that must give birth without the aid of the women in her family. I can imagine the fear and overwhelming responsibility felt by every new parent when they lay eyes on their child for the first time. But because it’s 3 days after Christmas and I can’t bring myself to take down the decorations, I need to go further…deeper.
I can’t fathom or imagine or even pretend to know what was going on in Mary’s head. The angel told her and Joseph who this baby was going to be. And I’m quite sure Mary was at least somewhat familiar with the prophecies. She was, after all, chosen especially for this. So did she know what the fate of her son would be? Did she have even a tiny grasp of what he would one day do? Did she understand that he was born for the purpose of dying? As she caught the scent of heaven from the top of his sweet baby head could she have known that one day thorns would be driven into that same head? When she touched his little hands and feet could she have ever envisioned that those same hands and feet would be nailed brutally to a cross? And as she rubbed and patted his back to soothe him, did she know that the flesh would one day be torn from it so that we could be healed? But here it is, 3 days after Christmas and I haven’t even gotten to the part that keeps stopping me in my tracks.
Three days after Christmas and my decorations are still up not because of Mary or Joseph. They are still up not because of the shepherds in the fields or the angels or the wise men. They are up because I can’t fathom the depths to which God was willing to go for mankind.
As amazing and awesome as it was here on earth on that day, what was it like in heaven? What was it like when the Creator of everything…the creator of the mountains and oceans…the creator of the sun…the creator of all that has ever existed decided to take the form of a man? What was it like when the Holy, Perfect God put on flesh? What did the angels think when the I AM willingly confined himself to the tiny body of a vulnerable newborn baby? How does that happen?
And then there’s this: He knew. God knew what he was doing and he knew the fate of his son. He knew because it was his plan all along. He knew the purpose of it because it was his purpose. He foretold it in the scriptures and allowed sinful man to write the prophecies about it. He knew he would be beaten, mocked and hung. He knew that Peter would deny him. He knew that people would deny his existence and live the way they want. He knew many would reject him. He knew of every sin, every evil, and every hateful thing humans would ever do and he felt the weight of it. He died for it. And that just blows my mind and it’s why three days after Christmas my decorations are still up.
So now, after having written all of this, after taking a moment to consider His sacrifice, I must go deeper still. I must see it for what it really is. His purpose wasn’t to just die, it was to conquer death. He didn’t just die for my sins, he conquered them. Because three days after the cross, HE LIVED! And because He lives, I live.
He didn’t stay in the manger, he didn’t remain in the grave, and he didn’t continue to be confined by flesh. Guess what that means? You guessed it! I don’t have to remain immature, I don’t have to stay dead, and I won’t always be confined by flesh. Nor will my celebration of Him be confined by a yearly tradition of decorations. I will continue to imagine and consider and remember. And long after the last box of ornaments is put away, I will still be in awe of the One that conquered all. I will still have His love and goodness and victory. I will still honor what He did and is doing by responding to His Word. So, it’s three days after Christmas and the decorations are coming down today.