Monday, January 4, 2016

Continuing Christmas in the New Year

Christmas isn’t over yet.

Most people think of the Christmas season as stretching from the end of November until December 25, possibly followed by some time celebrating New Year’s Eve. Then on January 1 (or maybe 2), we all go back to our ordinary lives, staggering from the quantity of food we’ve consumed and resolving to lose weight of save money or do something else we know we should do but haven’t actually done.

But traditionally, Christmas didn’t even start until December 25. The weeks leading up to Christmas are actually Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for Christmas, like Lent is for Easter. Then came Christmas day, followed by 12 days of celebration stretching to January 6, which is Epiphany, the day that celebrates the arrival of the Magi. Hence, the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

What this means is that even as we go back to work or school, Christmas is still going on. Although my inner Hobbit would love to use that as an excuse to continue stuffing my face with cheese, returning to work and/or taking steps to improve our lives is actually a perfectly appropriate way to celebrate the last few days of Christmas. Christmas is about the Incarnation, the moment when God became human and began to experience all the pleasures and frustrations of a normal human life. No area of life is outside His concern, whether it be health or finances or anything else. And therefore, whatever area of life we choose to focus on has a touch of holiness, and whatever actions we take can be done for God’s glory.

Lately, I’ve realized that I have a dangerous tendency to focus on my mind while neglecting my body. I’m trying to fight that by remembering that my body is a good (although not perfect) creation of God; it is part of what Christ came to redeem, and I will have it in some form for all eternity. My body has a part to play in my ultimate purpose of serving and glorifying God. I expect this will be a far more powerful motivator to live a healthy lifestyle than disgust or shame over how I look. In other words, the concern for all of life demonstrated in the Incarnation means that my health matters and is worth attending to. And whether you’re making a resolution or just continuing life as you have been, your daily concerns matter for the same reason.

I write this post mostly for myself, but I hope it will also help you to see the glory in whatever you are doing this week, whether you’re starting a new resolution or just going back to normal life. Everything has value because of the Incarnation. Christmas isn’t over yet.

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