The days between Christmas and New Years can feel heavy. The gifts are unwrapped, only cookie crumbs remain in the pretty tins, and returning to school or work is only a few days away.
In many ways, the passing of Christmas is comparable to reading the last sentence in an enthralling book. In the early chapters, the stage is being set. Then the main character is introduced, the plot begins to unfold, and new events and dialogue can be found on each page. But as the book nears its end, the excitement winds down. There’s usually resolution within the story … yet the reader isn’t necessarily ready to let go.
I felt this way when I read the last line in the Hunger Games trilogy. I wanted to read more about Katniss, Peeta and the world that they lived in, so even though I was satisfied with the tale Suzanne Collins spun, I felt sad when the story ended.
I wanted more.
If we read the glorious story of the first Christmas and stop after we get to the part where “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:21), it’s only natural that we’re going to feel a little let down.
If you stop there, the story – although beautiful – ends and you, the reader … are left wanting more … no … needing more.
The fastest, most surefire way to fight and win against the after-Christmas blues is to remember that the story doesn’t end with the chorus of angels and a visit from wise men.
If we keep reading, we learn more about baby Jesus. We learn about preteen Jesus giving his parents a scare after he had been presented at the temple. We learn about his baptism, his followers, his character, his commands of love and the ultimate sacrifice.
And when we get to the part of the book in the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke where the stone is rolled away and the tomb that was sealed is empty … we know that the story continues still today for those who follow Jesus.
The story of Christmas doesn’t end in a manger or on a cross or anywhere in ancient Israel. The story of Christmas continues today. It rushes forth with passion when we sing songs of praise. It covers our fears, our failings, our inadequacies. It gives us the power to speak truth and act with kindness and love.
When we recognize our role in the ongoing story of Christ’s love, the days after Christmas can be even more enriching than December 25.
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“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25