Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas Blues

I'm slowly picking up the pieces from the bomb that seems to have exploded in my house over Christmas. Why do Christmas bags always seem to multiply? I need to clean out and make room for my daughter's toys which seem to have doubled over the holidays, but I'm physically feeling the result of doing more than usual over the last several days. When all the anticipation and busyness of preparing, traveling, and celebrating is over it's easy to get a little melancholy after the holidays.

I was thinking today how wrong this is. I mean our Savior was born and now we have joy, hope, and peace because He has come that we may have life. But then I started thinking about the first Christmas and while the specifics of life for Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are not known, I can't help but wonder if the new family experienced some post Christmas blues after all the excitement was over.

Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, (Luke 1:36-45) the shepherds (Luke 2:8-15), Mary (Luke 1:26-35), and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25) were foretold of Jesus' birth by angels or the Holy Spirit (in Elizabeth's case). So they knew this was HUGE, but what did everyone else think? After the shepherds saw Jesus they went out to tell everyone what the angel had told them, and "all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them." (Luke 2:18) Likely it didn't make sense to people. Their Savior born in a manager? Shepherds were the first to visit the King? Scripture doesn't say that people didn't believe, but I'm sure it wasn't what they were expecting.

Even though it was a joyous time, Mary still had to recover physically from childbirth.  Away in a Manager says, "no crying he makes", but Jesus was fully human and therefore he did cry and need to be fed. I wonder if Mary wasn't a little homesick for her mother and family to help with the new baby Jesus. While in the days and years following Jesus' birth more people validated that he was the Messiah, including Simeon (Luke 2:25-35), Anna (Luke 2:36-38) and the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12), there were still many years of "normal" life for Mary and Joseph that included working, caring for Jesus and his siblings, cooking, and cleaning.  I can't help but think reality surely hit home and left them a little bewildered at how exactly their son was going to redeem their people.

We, however, know the rest of the story that Mary and Joseph did not at the time: that Jesus lived a perfect life, died, resurrected, is in heaven now, and will some day come to take His followers to be with him forever. At the same time we also know that all is not right in the world yet. The kingdom of God is already, but not yet. Jesus has already come bringing peace, hope, and forgiveness and this is good news! But we are not yet holy and we live in a world with great trouble.

"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:23-25

The uneasiness we feel in our hearts when Christmas is over and we have had to say goodbye to family and friends or when we feel overwhelmed by the all the Christmas decorations to be put away as we get back to the daily grind reminds us that this world is not our home. Even the fun of celebrations and gifts cannot make us happy. And while we take joy knowing that our Savior was born on Christmas Day the story is not complete. We are still longing for our adoption as God's sons and daughters to be finalized and for all to be made right in the world - for the days of suffering, and loneliness, and worry, and disappointment to finally be over and for Jesus to finish the battle He has already won.

While the "blues" may come, let us like Mary ponder all these things in our heart (Luke 2:19) and press on in hope and patience knowing that in due time we will see the fruition of our faith.

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