I spent part of Saturday morning putting away our Christmas decorations. Friday was Epiphany, the last day of the Christmas season, so it was time.
Putting the decorations back in their boxes and the boxes back in the basement or garage, I hear “Heirlooms” an old Amy Grant song, every year.
The song is about being in the attic among boxes of keepsakes. Ours are Rubbermaid containers filled with memories: toys from when the kids were small, items from our wedding day, report cards, photos, drawings, all kinds of stuff. Grant sings, “My precious family is more than an heirloom to me.”
Then she looks at other boxes in her attic, the ones I put away yesterday. The nativity, “wise men and shepherds down on their knees,” reminds her of her own faith. As I put away the nativity yesterday, I could hear Grant sing, “My precious Jesus is more than an heirloom to me.”
It ain’t over ’til it’s over
Our celebration of Christmas is over. The tree is gone. The stockings are put away. The nativity figurines are wrapped up and placed back in their boxes—as best as I could get them to fit—until next year.
The miracle of Christmas, however, isn’t over. God is still with us in the person of Jesus.
We must continue to live into Christmas, even after we’ve put the boxes away.
Theologian, author, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman penned a poem called “The Work of Christmas” that says it well.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
As a year filled with division, fear, and uncertainty begins, may we resolve to be about the work of Christmas. May we, the faithful, be those who move above the fray, and live love. May we join Jesus in his work among us.
The celebration is over. Now the work of Christmas begins.
If you want to read more on this, see my 2013 sermon “Let’s Get the Joy and Get to Work.”